THE EAST: A Couple of Clactons

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


On the train to Essex, I realise I know little about Essex. And that little is scrappy and second-hand. Growing up in the 1990s, I recall the ‘Essex Man’ media stereotype. He’d flourished, so this crude narrative went, under Thatcher by dragging himself out of the working class on the spoiler of a second-hand car. Dodgy motors – along with watches, jewellery, video recorders and discount clothing – were the sources of the entrepreneurial Essex Man’s income, which he spent on tasteless nouveau riche trappings like mock Tudor houses, gaudy shirts and white stilettos for his trophy wife (‘Essex Girl’ was the complementary – though not complimentary – female version). Both boilerplates must have been dreamed up by middle-class snobs, for the claim was that Essex Man and Essex Girl had grown up in the sooty, shabby East End of London before moving further east to cleaner, brighter coastal resorts like Clacton-on-Sea, where I am headed now.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationPanorama
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2023


  • travel writing
  • illustration
  • reportage drawing
  • seaside towns
  • Ethnography
  • Autoethnography

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