Monday, 26 March 2012
Friday, 23 March 2012
Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Spent a fine Saturday with the kids and my sister at Miss Willmott's Garden for tthe Essex Wildlife Trust's open day at Warley Place on Saturday. The garden has been resurrected by dedicated Monday volunteers and there's even a couple of novels been written about the romantic setting by one member. Hundreds of daffodils are out and the old ruined garden is looking great with some new rockeries and the ha-ha unearthed. Miss Willmott once employed a hundred gardeners in the early 1900s and was the first woman to be on the board of the British Horticultural Society. Tough not sure if she would have approved of the Harry Potter messages my girls left in the spotting book in the birdhide by the carp ponds. All of this plus a fine omelette and chips at the Thatchers Arms next door, where there's a signed pair of A P McCoy's jodphurs on the wall and a decent pint of Flying Scotsman to be had.
Friday, 16 March 2012
Go to Chelmsford Museum and you'll find the town is famous for the second smallest cathedral in England, Marconi radio and ball bearings (indeed there's display of a load of old balls) and of course the 1977 Chelmsford Punk Festival. There’s a picture of eight rather middle-class looking Chelmsford punks and a description of a wonderfully Spinal Tap-esque festival, where it rained all day, the crowds didn’t turn up, the scaffolders started to dismantle the stage before the concert was over and the Damned refused to play. An inadvertent vision of anarchy in the commuter belt.
Apart from Rod Stewart's missus Penny Lancaster and ex-West Ham goalkeeper Mervyn Day, Chelmsford's most famous son is the dress-wearing artist Grayson Perry. Chelmsford museum displays his vase Chelmsford Sissies, depicting a fictional transvestite festival in Chelmsford with bearded men from the English Civil War clad in dresses. On top of Grayson's vase is an upturned car crashing into a Chelmsford sign and on the side is a picture of a Barrett-style home and a parked motor. As Phill Jupitus tells me of Mr Perry: “He’s a man in a dress with a bear, but you hear him talking and it’s like you’ve bumped into a bloke in the pub! The most fascinating people in Essex are what Ian Dury described as ‘arts and crafts’.”
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
The Only Way is Essex is going American. Probably quite apt as we already have Bas Vegas and a Hollywood-style sign on the A13 at Basildon. The makers of the programme, Lime Productions are in discussions about making a version of the series set in either Florida or Texas. Is there anywhere in the world that could be like Essex? And what exactly is the American for "are you mugging me off?" and "getting the 'ump". Would they have an ironic equivalent to "Shu' up!" or indeed something akin to Arg's "burger nips"? Could there be "well proper" or "reem" or "jel" Texans? Ex-Towie icon Amy Childs might have to ask: "The person that’s obviously done the dictionary who is it? I’m being serious. Is he from Essex or is he from wherever, like Texas?" Not being horrible, but the makers of US Towie might end up looking like what Mark and Arg might refer to as "right doughnuts".