Essex/London Divide

It’s my birthday today, I’m 30. Woah. My son (2.5 years) is at my mum and dad’s so we’re kicking heels in a very pleasant way and making the most of this quietness before the baby comes. I just had a fry up and later there’s a curry. Hurrah.

I didn’t get a lie in though. I was up at 7am and writing another Hornchurch poem. This is the penultimate one. This is a conversation piece, nothing too flash, but I think it’ll work quite well in performance. The rhythm of the first piece is really fun, it builds nicely.

The London/Essex Dilemma

YOUNG MAN:

If anybody asks me, I’m from London
never Essex, rarely Hornchurch, London
East end, it’s the beating heart of London
got the tube, in my book mate, that’s London
drink my pints and sow my oats in London
sweat and earn and sleep and piss in London
Shakespeare wrote his sonnets here in London
half the world was governed here in London
Richardsons and Krays sliced throats in London
buzz of fourteen million in London
cloak of anonymity, that’s London
sweat of seven thousands boozers – London
heat of bodies packed in tight, that’s London
greatest city in the world is London.

So really mate, why choose to be from “Essex?”

OLDER MAN:

Well firstly friend, I see you like your hist’ry
but really Krays and Shakespeare, come on mate
that’s tourist stuff and as for boasts of empire
what’s next, a little ode to Wills & Kate?

See, pride in where you come from starts with hist’ry
so you should know, I hate to break your heart,
traditionally old Hornchurch is in Essex
and London was a fair slog from these parts.

You’re bowing down to roads and tubes and planning
you’re letting them dictate your past to you
but Essex is the county of rebellion
two fingers to smoke, that’s what we do.

John Ball, Wat Tyler, working men revolting
Essex, it’s the county of the free
that monkey they call Mayor in the blonde wig
you have him mate, he’s not to do with me

It’s not all green, green grass and Little England
it’s room to breath away from the machine.
It’s not all loads-a-money/TOWIE/Blingland
that’s London seeping up the a13.

So keep your smog and sad serrated sky
I’m Essex and I’m Essex till I die.

1 Comment

  • Geography Police February 11, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Interesting poem. Having the tube don’t make a place London. Epping has the tube but is firmly in Essex. Hornchurch has been in London, & not in Essex, for 50 years now. Though the evidence for this is strong, overwhelming in fact, some people say that Hornchurch is in Essex postally. This is incorrect, check your driving licences & V5 forms Hornchurch folk, you won’t find the word Essex lingering after Hornchurch, just the postcode. Letter still got to you though didn’t it? If you cease to write Essex on your address you’ll become less & less attached to a place that moved away half a century ago.

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