I spent four years of my life forced to live in the hellhole that is Southend and I loathed every hour of it. This pit has no redeeming qualities at all. Central to the town is the Victoria Circus shopping centre, half of its shops are closed down and the other half sell discount sportswear, fake designer bags or frozen food. The High street is as un-splendid a heap as you will ever see, a solid mile of grey concrete and upturned bins.
Hundreds of child mums, vast swollen things with grey leggings, white reeboks and hair SCRAPED back into “The Croydon Facelift” ponytail, hang around the pedestrianised areas. Cackling gaggles who will, I assure you, descend on any unsuspecting stranger at a moments notice to mock them for having an education, a tailor or an opposable thumb.
The males are even worse. I have lived in some rough areas, Tottenham and Beirut among them, but I have never encountered the sheer force of aimless aggression in the way it is presented in Southend. Gangs with at least one Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Are a regular feature of the high street area and will, even during the day, waste no time in locating, identifying and attacking anyone who is not one of their own. Usually they are attached to one of the many benches in the immediate vicinity of one of the high-street’s TWO branches of McDonalds, smoking jazz cigarettes and drinking white lightening, urinating in public or urging their communal dog to attack a much smaller dog, usually one owned by a small child or pensioner.
The area near the Royals Shopping Centre at the sea front end of the high street is slightly safer, but beware the benches behind it for they are the haunt of both Southend’s feared elite and dangerously drunken elders returning from the sea front pubs.
This brings us neatly on to the matter of the sea-front.
No self-respecting human being will ever go here. I once went to see a band at the Minerva and narrowly escaped being bottled for walking too close to someone’s car. The air is thick with the smell of junk food and the locals are just thick.
The sea front boasts yet another McDonalds, although to get there you would have to walk along the most dangerous stretch of the seafront. Watch as the ***** drive their cars at four miles an hour in circles, around the roundabout and back round again. Highlights of the seafront must be:
- The Cornucopia: Britain’s most ****** and hostile public bar.
- Mr. B’s: A nightclub so tacky it makes a Glasgow Disco look like a Phillip Glass recital.
- The Kursaal: A truly astonishing collection of loads of events and theme nights that no-one would ever dream of being seen dead at.
Southend is an amazing experience. If you want to see just how many articles of denim clothing someone can wear at the same time then it’s the place to go.
Personally I left it. Mainly because, and these things stick in the mind, at 2:20pm on the 20th of April 2000, someone levelled a gun at my face and told me I was a “freak with weird things in my ears”.
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