Blake Morrison on the literature of the east coast. - "Writers from Crabbe to Sebald have been drawn to the fragile beauty of the east coast of Britain – and have immortalised it in words"
The Only Way Is Essex was the first of a new wave of scripted reality shows in the UK, inspired by their popular US equivalents. Yet what started as a riff on the old joke of the bimbonic 'Essex Girl' has somehow had an impact on linguistics (including a dictionary entry) and what we think of as beautiful. [more inside]
Catherine Bennett is a Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model. Taking time out from her work as a palaeontologist, Bennett has released two songs to date: debut single Apathy and a follow-up, Animal Kingdom. [more inside]
The Violence is a new album by Darren Hayman about the Essex Witch Trials conducted by Matthew Hopkins, where over 300 women were put to death between 1644 and 1646. [more inside]
The Battle Of Maldon is an Old English poem (here in the original Old English, here in a modern translation) retelling the events of a battle that took place in England in 991, in which a small army of Saxons attempted to halt an invading Viking force only to suffer a crushing defeat. This battle, and the disastrous rout suffered by the Saxons, led to the introduction of the Danegeld, the payment of silver in tribute to the Vikings to buy off their invading forces. [more inside]
Oil City Confidential is a new film from director Julien Temple, previously responsible for The Filth and the Fury, about the Sex Pistols, and Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, focusing on Strummer and The Clash. This time round, in a kind of prequel to both those films, he tackles the life and turbulent times of Dr. Feelgood. Finding fame on the same Pub rock circuit (as remembered by writer and Kursaal Flyers drummer Will Birch) that also supported Ian Dury's Kilburn and the High Roads (not to mention Eddie and the Hot Rods and Joe Strummer's pre-Clash band The 101ers), Dr. Feelgood played stripped-down, taut and aggressive R&B. Hailing from the wildlands of Essex's Canvey Island – the "Oil City" of the film's title – Dr Feelgood were punk before punk really hit, a whirlwind of raucous energy, with a fierce work ethic. In Wilko Johnson, they had a guitarist with a scorching, slash and burn technique, while their singer, Lee Brilleaux (1989 interview), who died of cancer in 1994, aged just 41, oozed cheap-suited menace, and, into the bargain, helped found Stiff Records. [more inside]
They call this “Sanctuary Wood” – for me it fulfils a dream. I’m sorry I trespass but if I had my dream somewhere like this would be my home and sanctuary. An urban-explorer and his girlfriend come across an abandoned caravan in the woods of Essex, then find they are not the only visitors... [more inside]
Earls Colne, Essex: Records of an English Village 1375-1854 ; and Domesday Witham, an Essex town. Pieces of Essex history.
The Old Telephone Company, Essex, England
Essex is the New Jersey of England, but is trying to change the public perception of my beautiful home county. Not all Essex girls are slappers and it's not all industrial wasteland. But why tell the rest of England about our beautiful secrets?