As an Essex girl (and before you go there; no- not the loud, materialistic wotsit look alike), I find it very easy to identify my fellow Essexers, especially at university. Uni is a diverse environment where you will meet people from different backgrounds, religions, and countries… let alone counties! It wasn’t until university that I realised just how negative the reputation of Essex is, especially if you are a girl from Essex (cue the snarky comments…) So I thought it was about time to put a check list together of what it is really like to live in Essex. So to all you haters out there, don’t judge us until you understand all of the following points.
1. Is it true what they say about Essex girls?
On the whole, no… no it isn’t. The negative reputation that comes with the title ‘Essex Girl’ implies that we are sexually promiscuous, materialistic party animals with no class; but like most stereotypes, this description only fits a handful of people. If you don’t see a problem with the implications that come with this title, then great – but don’t assume everyone fits. Once a guy catches on that you live in Essex, there is no doubt this question will be the next line out of his mouth. Perfecting the eye roll, fake laugh, or exhausted sigh is the only way to tackle these morons.
2. You know the difference between going out and going out out.
In the UK, and especially in Essex, we have different levels of going out. As someone who has lived in Essex, you will be well aware of this spectrum. There is popping out, to run errands and maybe pick up some groceries. A step up would be going out for a quick one with a friend, usually mid to late afternoon. And finally we have going out out, where the levels of alcohol only keep rising, the party dresses and killer heels have come out, and you end up in what can only be described as a hell hole of a club, no doubt with some stories to tell the next morning (and an awful hangover to go with it).
3. Bas Vegas will forever hold treasured and unspoken memories.
Following on from my previous point, Bas Vegas was the place to go out out – may it forever R.I.P. Liquid and Envy were located in Basildon Festival Park aka Bas Vegas, and there was no doubt that a night here would leave you with some hilarious and/or shameful memories. Yes, it is upsetting that Liquid and Envy are no longer with us, but let’s be honest, there is plenty of night life in Essex to take its place.
4. Lakeside Shopping Centre is your second home.
There is even a joke to back up my point. Q: What is an Essex girl’s favourite wine? A: Wanna go Lakeside!! I have spent many of my weekends here. Lakeside Shopping Centre is the place to go for any well needed retail therapy. There is also a great range of restaurants, VUE cinema and water activities to keep you entertained.
5. Fake Tan is a must.
I am a pale human so sometimes I need a little help looking sun kissed, especially in the winter months. However, I must stress the words ‘sun kissed’. I am not into looking like a cheesy wotsit, thank you very much. I must admit that many women and men in Essex are guilty of slapping on the fake tan and turning a worrying shade of mahogany. But let’s be honest, everyone has had a fake tan faux pas. Whether your legs have resembled streaky bacon, you smell like biscuit, or simply over did it. Don’t sweat it, exfoliating and lemon baths are your best friend at this point.
6. Gavin and Stacey is life.
When Gavin and Stacey hit our screen in 2007, it was love at first sight. Set in Billiracy, Essex and Barry Island, Wales, the show reveals the difference of living in each location. Characters Smithy, Gavin, Pam and Mick brilliantly show everyday life in Essex.
7. The word ‘like’ occurs repeatedly in sentences.
I’ve been talking about Essex for like a while now, but like what really annoys me, is like how so many people say ‘like’ like so many times per sentences. Like oh my god stop. Yes, it’s super annoying but I have to admit I am guilty of this. Perhaps not to this exaggerated level, but still, it can happen to the best of us.
8. The love/hate relationship you have with The Only Way is Essex.
9. The Secret Nuclear Bunker is not such a secret anymore.
This one baffles me everytime. In Brentwood there is a nuclear bunker where you can go and have an activity day, usually used for children’s birthdays. However, what will never make sense and has become a comical joke throughout Essex is the sign that points the way to this secret nuclear bunker. I’m not sure how much much of a secret the location is when there is a sign pointing the way… just saying.
10. Jane Norman carrier bags made carting your PE kit to school almost worth it.
Jane Norman was an amazing shop and I’m still not over the brand going bust. But whilst the items bought were great, the bonus of the carrier bag they were put in put the icing on the cake (and this was before the 5p charge, win!) These bags were perfect for carrying your PE kit to school. I’m serious when I say most girls had one. If only there had been some warning, we could have stocked up.
11. A night out to the Sugar Hut isn’t all it’s hyped up to be.
The Sugar Hut in Brentwood High Street, became well known thanks to TOWIE (The Only Way is Essex) and the place to go out out. Honestly I’ve been once and the type of people in there just aren’t my cup of tea, the drinks are over-priced, and you feel like a sardine packed into a tin. However, I have friends who love a night out in Sugar Hut so I suppose it all depends on your taste. I’d recommend trying it out.
12. White bang bang shoes just aren’t that practical.
Just to clarify, bang bang shoes are extremely high heel typically worn for going out out. However there is this rumour that Essex girls own white ones but honestly think of how impractical that would be in a club where drinks are being spilled, people are stepping on your toes, and there is god knows what on the floor. I don’t own a pair and I don’t know many people that do.
13. You know that Mark Wright, Olly Murs, and Stacey Solomon are the county’s cherished celebrities.
Mark Wright launched to fame after staring in TOWIE and proceeded to star in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and marry Michelle Keegan. All in all, he is doing pretty alright for himself. Olly Murs and Stacey Solomon found stardom after appearing on the X factor. The reason we love these three, is that they are down to earth and have never forgot where they came from…good old Essex.
14. Saying ‘Shut Up’ will never be the same again.
These two words have become associated with Essexers due to the way it is said on TOWIE. The annoying nasal twang and exaggerated length is very annoying but honestly I’ve caught myself sounding similiar once or twice. Perhaps it is a unavoidable reality we must accept.
15. Driving past Basildon’s take on the Hollywoood sign causes shame.
The phrase only in Essex springs to mind. This sign recreates a little bit of Hollywood on the drive to Basildon, however no one is fooled.
16. Adventure Island will forever be known as Peter Pan’s Playground.
When heading to Southend and someone suggests going to Adventure Island, I have to correct them. It is similar when sequels of movies change the actor or actress for a character, it just isn’t the same. So yes, in my eyes Adventure Island will forever be known as Peter Pan’s Playground.
17. Attempting to hold your breath through the Dartford Tunnel is a serious business.
Long drives can be boring, so what better way to keep yourself entertained than to see how long you can hold your breath for through the Dartford Tunnel. Many have tried and failed, it’s just something that we do, there isn’t really an explanation for it.
18. T’s and H’s become harder to pronounce the longer you stay in Essex.
Southerners have a particular accent but it is most noticeable at university when you have popped home for a week and come back with a stronger accent than before. I will forever be baffled by the midlands way of saying lunch (loonch) but it is a great conversation starter.
19. The constant conflict between telling people you’re from Essex or London.
The struggle is real. Do you tell people you are from London to avoid the stereotypes that come with telling them you’re from Essex? But what if they find out and then you’re made out to be a liar? At the end of the day, you should be proud of where you live.
20. Knowing that the weather is the best in the country.
Ah the lovely south weather. When you look at the weather report each morning and see Scotland and Wales covered in rain, but the highest temperatures are always in the south and south east, you count your lucky stars that you live in Essex.
I hope this list has educated you non-Essexers and caused nostalgia and a few laughs to my fellow Essex lads and ladies. If you haven’t been to Essex before, come on down. We’ll show you a good time. We know how to show you a good time.