Leigh-on-Sea. Thumbs down.


Don’t go to Leigh-on-Sea if you can help it; it’s rubbish. We went there with a group of friends on Saturday.

I nearly wrote “gang” instead of “group” there, but at 34, with a wife, child and mortgage, “gang” sounds a bit disingenuous. We haven’t been a gang for a while now. 

Can you actually be in a gang if you have a mortgage?? 34-year-olds insisting they’re in a gang makes me think of people who insist they’re “crazy”.

If you have to tell people you’re crazy then you’re obviously not being crazy enough. If you’re actually “a bit crazy” then people will notice (trust me, I know some crazy people, and it’s fairly self-evident).

The Lovely Melanie met some self-proclaimed crazy people during her four-hour return journey from Hatfield last night. It would be fair to say that by about the two-hour mark she wasn’t in the mood for “craziness” – let alone “wackiness” or – the absolute lowest form of wit – “zany-ness”, but that’s exactly what she got. “Zany-squared.”

The way she tells it, waiting at King’s Cross for a train whose arrival time was being used as a random number generator by all the fruit machines in Las Vegas, she was joined by some people coming home from the Notting Hill Carnival.

I’ve been to “Carnival” twice in the 12 years I’ve lived in London, and I’m glad I have. But note the past tense, “have”. 

I’ve been, it was OK, and I don’t want to go again. Once you’ve seen one person dressed as an enormous butterfly dancing to a very loud sound system, you’ve pretty much seen them all. And once you’ve seen one lot of blokes having a smoke on a very slow-moving lorry with a sound system so loud that its mere existence makes your can of warm Foster’s (that you paid £4 for) go flat, then you’ve definitelyseen them all…

But we were sat with the Lovely Melanie at King’s Cross…

She’s joined by a small group of revellers on their way home from the Carnival.

They are “crazy”, they tell her.

The Lovely Melanie wearily agrees that they probably are.

No, they insist, they definitely are. Absolutely A1 “bonkers”. Why, they’ve just come from Carnival, therefore practically by definition they are crazy.

Some of them apologise (unnecessarily) to the Lovely Melanie for the impossible levels of sheer craziness currently being experienced on the platform.

The Lovely Melanie’s Ker-Razy-ometer stubbornly refuses to register their inherent lunacy.
Hasn’t the Lovely Melanie ever been to Carnival, they enquire? Probably not, they murmur sadly – she lacks the necessary “zany quotient”.

More unnecessary apologies are proffered for the abnormally bananas nature of these Carnival returnees. The Lovely Melanie finally cracks and says that, yes, she has been to Carnival. And it was a bit rubbish.

The crazy people, stunned into sobriety, leave.

Fortunately, we didn’t see any of this kind of thing in Leigh-on-Sea. When we walked the couple of miles to Southend we saw a little bit more of it, but it was true craziness – the kind of pissed-up English seaside resort craziness that you really really don’t want to be encountering after dark.

And, after the mud flats, fish smell and desolation of Leigh-on-Sea, it was almost a relief to see (did you know they’ve tarmacked the “beach” of Leigh-on-Sea? I kid you damn well not: instead of building a seawall or something sensible like that they’ve poured tarmac along a mile-long stretch of the coast. It’s quite a remarkable sight in a sort of beating-Mother-Nature-to-death-with-a big-stick-with-a-nail-in-the-end sort of way).

So everyone made a fuss of Millie, we had a great big lunch, bought some rock (the sugary mint variety) and played a game of “Adventure Golf” at the Southend Pleasure Beach. I highly recommend the Adventure Golf. It isn’t eh most imaginative in terms of the course obstacles, but they’ve really gone to town with the surrounding scenery, and I was jolly pleased with my score of 26 over 9 holes.

After a pint in a local Wetherspoon’s pub that welcomed Millie (Millie thinks all pubs are like Wetherspoons) we jumped on the train home, and were back in sunny Forest Hill just 90 minutes later. Since we were all absolutely exhausted it was just as well. A four-hour journey with added wackiness wasn’t something we could have dealt with without resorting to some particularly zany violence.

Here’s the Lovely Melanie and Millie on the mud flats at Leigh, and Millie and “Uncle” Mike reading the papers in the pub in Southend.

Millie’s getting more and more mobile, which is half blessing, half problem. It’s a blessing because, as I think I mentioned, she can amuse herself to a certain extent now: crawling around the house, eating dust and dead flies, using any vaguely supportive object to hold onto while she stands up (it’s the getting back down again that’s currently a bit of a problem for her).

The problem is that she never wants to stay where it would be convenient for us for her to stay, and consequently our house continually echoes with the tolerant refrain, “Millie, where are you, poppet? What are you doing, eh?

And we thought, the Lovely Melanie and I, that we were largely immune to smells of pooh, these days; that we could be vomited on, pee’d on, poohed on, burped over, whatever, but when I walked into Millie’s room yesterday…her entire bedroom smelt bad. She can fill entire rooms – not just a nappy – with eau de schiesse, these days; give her an hour in a medium-sized room and she can make it pretty much uninhabitable, yet with no outward signs that anything untoward has happened.

Thanks to everyone who sent their good wishes regarding my dad – he’s out of hospital and still doing fine. Well, no worse than he was before, at any rate.

If you really wanted to help him then you should bid on some of the comics I’m selling on eBay.

Nothing cheers me dad up like his son’s comics selling well on eBay. 😉

And my job search has gotten off to a disappointing start, it must be said.

Come on, folks, I’m writing my heart out here, surely someone in a position of power must be chuckling along and thinking, “Yeah, you know what? We should headhunt this guy – he’s a funny guy!

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