Monday, 20 December 2010

2010’s only way is Essex

Written to: Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas

Following a string of Essex reality television winners and that TV show, it seems that the UK has grown to love my home county. While there are already quite a few well-known Essex lads and ladies around (including Alan Sugar, Ray Winston, David Beckham, Helen Mirren and Denise van Outen), the number is growing thanks to reality television series. Olly Murs, Diversity and Chantelle Houghton have all been taken to the nation’s hearts and celebrated reasonable success. Then in the last month, Stacey Solomon was crowned queen of the I’m A Celebrity jungle, Colchester’s own Matt Cardle was chosen as the nation’s X Factor winner and just Saturday Southend’s Kara Tointon lifted the Strictly Come Dancing glitterball. Having lived in Essex all my (albeit short) life and been damn proud of it, here are my top five reasons for why I think Brits love Essex so much.

1. Confidence

At times it borderlines cockiness or plain arrogance but it’s rare that Essex spawned celebrities are the hiding wallflowers in the corner. So there may be the odd outlandish claim and they’ve made a few mistakes but generally these people have had the guts to show the world what they’ve got and by the looks of things; they have the talent. Out of all of this year’s contestants it seems Matt Cardle is the one who has kept his feet on the ground and not thrown a hissy-fit over a wardrobe change or song choice. However, the tabloid’s stories suggest he is a bit of a ladies’ man. You can take the boy out of Essex…

2. Honesty
Whether it be Lord Sugar’s cutting remarks or Russell Brand’s naughty jokes, the population of Essex is not afraid to tell it like it is. It’s not always cutting either, I think we just generally don’t think about what we’re saying before it’s too late, or a situation becomes so frustrating that we have to speak up. Take Stacey Solomon in the Aussie jungle. She was the only contestant with the guts to ask Gillian McKeith why the hell she was still in the competition. She also openly admitted that her music career seemed to be going nowhere and all she wanted out of I’m A Celeb was a few magazine deals.

3. The Essex Accent
Giggle all you want but a lot can be said about an Essex accent. Having lived with it myself (although mine actually isn’t that bad), you come to realise an Essex accent can help cover all manner of motives. By dropping a ‘h’ or ‘t’ or calling everyone sweetheart you automatically become endearing and it is seen as more ‘authentic’. It is as if Essex people can be forgiven if they say something a bit daft, particularly when you have the twang to go with it. But despite this revolving around a stereotype; it can work in our favour. Take David Beckham as an example. Ol’ Golden Balls has always been mocked for his little voice but his power in the football industry and money should not be overlooked. Underestimation allows for subtlety.

4. Sense of Humour
Essexians (yes I made that up) like to ‘ave a larf and as a result, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Lee Evans, James Corden and Russell Brand, probably our most famous comedians, have made a living out of a degree of silliness, but they are also not afraid to poke fun at themselves. In a way this ties up the three points already made in that these comedians’ confidence, honesty and accents/persona are integral to their performance. I’d also like to put forward that a montage of Lord Sugar’s sayings would crack a smile or two.

5. Ambition

The story of the working class boy done good is reverent throughout many an Essex success. Heck, even Shane Ritchie entitled his book ‘From Rags to Ritchies’. But seriously, Essex is one of the UK’s richest counties and that cannot just be by chance. There are dreams and aspirations here with determination but, crucially, a realistic approach. Shame some don’t have the class or taste to match.

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