Did you catch Jonathan Meades and The Joy of Essex on BBC4 last night, dahhhlings? No worries if you didn’t – that nice iPlayer should be your friend to see you through until the first coffee break of the morning.
Do they mean us?
They most certainly do, etc…
The premise of the programme appeared to be an attempt to remove the stigma often associated with the County. No more Diamond Geezers and Bacardi Breezers, as our friend Johnno is fond of saying.
So far, so good.
But did you manage to get past the first five minutes and the rather laissez faire editorial control over the language?
Tell It Like It Is, etc.
We were tempted to turn over as soon as the psychogeographic [Ooooh] Essex folklore mythology got the Meades multi-lingual treatment.
But we’re pleased that we stuck with it. Book, cover etc – there were some LOVELY images of Essex being displayed on BBC4.
As the hour-long programme developed (in a very loose sense…) you soon discovered that this was actually a love letter to the County as penned by Meades. Not so much roses are red, but a love letter written after perhaps a late night and a half shandy for some amorous encouragement.
Colchester Castle looked STUNNING in some of the opening shots. Likewise lower Wivenhoe and the historic houses.
Shame that Meades seemed to miss out on all of this Essex beauty hiding behind his shades.
The Joy of Essex may have started as a social history exercise put together with a slight tongue in cheek approach, but it switched around the halfway point into the psychogeographic twaddle.
“Frinton Market fought Modernism and Frinton Market won…”
We heard how the story of Essex is the story of failed utopias.
Betcha you Meades has never spent a Saturday afternoon at Rollerworld in his youth.
It was pure style over substance – engaging as though this is, there is the paradox that this is the very ideal that the programme was trying to overcome.
The twittersphere [aha!] was divided. The Chronic found some Comrades watching with a similar Tell It Like It Is approach.
@colchchronic I just had the EXACT thought. I wondered if I was having a stroke and had ceased to understand English.
— Faye Savage (@fayesavage) January 29, 2013
— Alison Fogg (@alisonfogg) January 29, 2013
@colchchronic loving the pictures… Not so sure about the words…!!
— Sue Beecroft (@QueenBuzz) January 29, 2013
@colchchronic ha ha! Beautiful pics but I only understood 2 words: sea and Essex.
— Anna Appleyard (@Bezanna) January 29, 2013
At least this wasn’t Party Paramedics part II, and at least the Sunny Colch theory wasn’t displaced either. The future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades, etc.
Whenever anyone from outside of Essex asks The Chronic what the County is *really* like, we tend to point them over here.
“I’m thrilled by the night sky, I see all the stars above
No place has everything but this place has everything I love.
I love the way that strangers talk to you on the bus
From Brightlingsea to Mersea this is Colchester sending love.”
THIS is Essex.