Tune into the joys of Essex
A couple of years ago I was mingling at a wedding reception up in Yorkshire and I got chatting to a retired high court judge over a glass of bubbles.
We made the usual small talk about inconsequential stuff and the ex-judge asked where I was from. When I mentioned proudly that I was from Essex, my words were greeted with a rip-roaring belly laugh. I might as well have said that I was an alien from Mars. I was totally shocked and was made to feel very small. Luckily an embarrassed and apologetic relative shuffled me off quickly to the nearest tray of canapés.
The short incident left me thinking what the sentence would have been during his career for the ‘Essex boy or girl’ in the dock with such prejudice and snobbery – a slightly worrying thought. Imagine the harsh prison sentences for petty crimes by Essex offenders – ‘life’ for shoplifting!
After the wedding weekend, all thoughts of the conversation were erased when I went for a hack across the rolling Essex countryside in the sunshine my friend Collette. We were able to admire the beauty of the landscape that Constable chose to paint while I let off steam about my wedding encounter.
A few years on it looks like BBC Four are giving Essex some long-awaited positive press with a new documentary called The Joys of Essex. The programme explores the county’s rich culture, beautiful architecture and social history – rather than the usual spray tans and cosmetic surgery for which we have become renowned.
I hope it shows some of the glorious rural landscapes that I’ve had the pleasure of exploring on hacks with my horses and friends. And let’s hope Mr. Judgemental is watching!