I'd been checking the weather forecast for the weekend - there was a 30 deg heatwave! forecast for London and the south-east of England, gales and heavy rain for the north-east of Scotland; seemed like a perfect time to pay a long-overdue visit to my 89 year-old Mum.A quick phone call to her to make arrangements elicited the response that she was going to a "celebration of Essex Girls "on the Saturday. Now here I must declare that I don't understand the fuss made regarding the sexist stereotype of Essex girls as promoted by comedians and the gutter press - they are portrayed as blonde bimbos with fake tans, large breasts and an easy attitude to sex. Having spent some of my teenage years living in Essex, I certainly never met anyone like that...unfortunately!
So I hatched a plan to fly down to London Friday night, hire a car and spend time with the Essex girls.I managed to find an internet deal on accomodation; Friday night found me relaxing in a Sheraton 4 star hotel for the princely sum of £44 - result! I picked up the car, a mercedes AMG sport which cost several times more than the hotel room, but had excellent air-conditioning and a fancy flappy-paddle gearbox controlled from the steering wheel. Not that it mattered how quickly the thing changed gear, I spent most of the weekend creeping around in traffic bloody hell it was murder no matter where I went.
First thing Saturday morning I headed for Jack Lilley's Triumph dealership, they do custom Triumph bikes and I was curious to see what they had, At the entrance was a huge Rocket 3 in black with all sorts of extra bits on it, it looked EVIL but extremely HUGE. They also had a custom Thunderbird, but not unfortunately the Steve Mcqueen great escape Scrambler. Next stop was to be the Victory showroom, but some time spent in traffic jams and 30 degree heat made me decide to turn around , head for the M25 motorway and zip round to South London to see my daughter - unfortunately the Blackwall tunnel was closed for repair, so the whole south-east corner of London, Kent and Essex was at a standstill! So I aborted that idea and headed straight to Chelmsford in deepest Essex.
The Essex Girl celebration was taking place in Hylands house, a stately home set in parkland. First suprise was how brown and scorched everything looked, it looked more like Arizona than Essex, and felt just as hot.The celebration was intended to show that Essex women did not conform to their stereotype, but were capable intelligent women. My Mum was there because in 1932 she joined a band called the Dagenham Girl Pipers, an all-girl bagpipe band that travelled the country entertaining; they also travelled to the USA early in WWII, Sweden in the 50's. Of course now the band members are all in their 70's & 80's, but were a sprightly bunch.