TMTE than TOWIE…

               Here in the UK where get our share of reality TV the creative whizzes behind the shows display no signs at all that they are running out of ideas. One such programme is a day-to-day look at life in the county of Essex, a county that has gained itself quite a reputation during the last fifteen years or so, for its characterful populace and their antics.

                I must confess I am not a follower of ‘The Only Way is Essex’ and that all of my knowledge of said show has been gleaned from reading reviews or catching glimpses of the ‘slebs’ in glossy magazines whilst waiting for appointments [as explained in previous posts], but I’m guessing that fans of the programme could be forgiven for thinking that all there is to Essex is London overspill towns, spray tans, vajazzles and estuary vowels [for the uninitiated-Essex edges itself around the mouth of the Thames as it joins the North Sea and the inhabitants speak in a distinctive, unmistakeable accent]. It is easy to gain a preconceived idea of a place.

                I consider myself, as far as the UK is concerned, to be a South Wester-that is to say I was born in the South West I’ve spent most of my life living there, however I did spend some significant periods of my childhood living in both East Anglia [North Norfolk] and Kent, and although I know and recall both of these areas well I knew nothing of Essex until this week, when we journeyed Eastwards to rectify this gaping void of ignorance.

                Of course I was well aware that besides the sprawling conurbations of Basildon and Romford there were whole tracts of beautiful countryside, swathes of marshes teeming with wildlife, charming coastal towns and quaint villages and I have not been disappointed. We made first for Mersea Island in the south-an island only in that a wide, muddy causeway separates it from the ‘mainland’, given over largely to holiday parks, but also home to manicured villages with black, clapperboard houses with voluptuous gardens, village duck-ponds and wonderful pubs. We visited the Oyster Bar, indulging in an enormous sharing platter of crab, prawns, mussels, cockles, smoked salmon, smoked haddock and of course, oysters-accompanied by a Guiness [Husband] and a chilled white wine [me].

                Colchester, towards the East boasts the reputation of being the earliest recorded town in the country, although here my expectations were a little dashed. It is a handsome town, with some fine buildings but not spectacular. It has a modest, well-tended castle but I suspect all vestiges of antiquity were thrashed out of it long ago to make way for the ubiquitous likes of H&M, Marks and Spencer, Greggs and Tesco Express.             

                On again then to the East coast beyond Colchester, where were truly in the depths of the countryside, but near to the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe [across the water to the North in Suffolk]. It is an exemplary scene of rural England. So much for preconceptions-and all about three hours away!

 

 

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Agony in the Waiting Room

                I arrived a little too early for my annual dental check up, not out of enthusiasm for the ordeal to come, but an over estimation of the time I’d take to get there. This is not a disaster, as the waiting room offers a range of magazines for every taste and from almost as many eras. The table is awash with a range of periodicals -from ‘The Oldie’ and ‘Saga’ to ‘Good Housekeeping’ and ‘Woman’s Weekly’. Take ‘Hello’ magazine, for instance. It makes no difference to me whether the edition is February 2014 or July 2003. I’m still none the wiser who most of the featured celebrities are, or in which field they have achieved their notoriety. Of course I do recognise the more prominent members of the British royal family and I am aware of such tabloid royals as the Beckhams, but most of the names and the faces are a complete mystery. So it is with a sense of the surreal that I read the caption-‘Chianti Cosmetique’s bump makes a debut at the Innuendo fragrance awards party’ or ‘Krayde and Melliflua Lamprey’s engagement party at Legoland Windsor’ or ‘Lady Hermione Drake-Smatterborn settles into her new home following her split from husband Basil’.

                I wonder what it is that creates this appetite for pictures and news about ‘slebs’ and/or royalty, when their lives, actually, are not of any interest at all. Like us, they have encounters, they form relationships [albeit brief in many cases], they buy homes, they marry, they divorce, they have babies, they ‘find happiness’ again, they party, they holiday, cavort, pose in expensive outfits in exotic locations and presumably on the proceeds of the sales of the magazines.

                A cursory delve into who some of the unknowns might be generally reveals that they are known for being married to someone famous, or that they are born into a famous/rich/royal family. In other words they are not known for anything they may have achieved, but by the tenuous thread that is as an appendage dangling off the end of a ‘famous’ person. This is irritating. Not only have they benefitted from marrying/being born to a [vaguely] known person but they are then able to rake in more dosh by appearing in the magazine in this lightweight capacity, not having actually done anything themselves.

                It was a mistake to arrive early for my appointment. I then had a wait of 35 minutes while the dentist dealt with someone else’s complications. Grim! I was left to occupy myself with photos of the Ponsonby-Smythes’ garden party of summer 2010 and Victoria Beckham’s shopping trip to New York. And after all this torture, what a relief to be invited in to sit in the chair and have my teeth prodded, my gums scraped and my tongue mummified. This time next year, when I return for my annual prod I will either ensure a more accurate arrival time or take along my Kindle!