Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

20 Ways You Know You’re From Essex (More Specifically, Colchester)

Reality TV has put Essex on the map but what’s it REALLY like??

By Lizi Woolgar

TOWIE. Thanks for absolutely nothing. Compared to the classy American counterpart The Hills, I sadly cannot say that we have the image of quite such a glamorous-yet-dramatic lifestyle. The reality TV show The Only Way is Essex (or TOWIE) is more cat fights and drink-throwing, with a few (poor, poor) dip-dyed dogs thrown in for good measure.

The problem is that people on TOWIE do have a habit of talking about Essex – a County – as if it’s a small town: “Nothing stays secret in Essex”. Er, actually, I have no idea what Lateysha in Romford was doing last night. You know why? Because Romford is 33 miles away and I do not care who is in what kind of dramatic “totes awks boy sitch” there.

So, as much as I (sometimes) hate to admit it, here goes: I am an Essex gal. Born and bred. And I’m going to let you into the (top secret) unwritten code of Essex (mostly Colchester, in this case) that bonds us funny little chappies together:

1. Fake tanning is as much as part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth.

2. When people find out where you’re from they immediately assume you’re best mates with the entire cast of TOWIE. They then start throwing random “shut uuup”, “oh ma gawd” and “leave it aaat”s at you. No, we are not all in TOWIE. There are more towns in the COUNTY Essex than just Brentwood. No, I am neither “well jel” nor “reeeeem” thank you.

3. Peroxide blonde is so common it looks like completely natural hair to us. We are fully desensitized.

4. Playhouse is your second home. Thursday night means more to your entire student life than Friday or Saturday night (Mad, I know, but the people of Colchester know what I’m sayinnn’).

5. We proudly acknowledge the Roman roots of our town (by the Castle and wall remnants) but could never really engage in any kind of conversation on the matter if we were ever quizzed on our hometown’s history. It is actually the oldest recorded Roman town in the whole of Britain (and we know we’ve all learnt that from the road sign now, haven’t we?).

you know youre from essex when image

6. Falsies are a given. Even for the lowest maintenance gals.

7. Your hometown is one of the central features of the TV show Bouncers. Shame on us.

8. Natural look? Nope, never heard of that. Must be talking Greekish or something.

9. You wake up after a night out to a plethora of matted hair extensions thrown across the floor. Probably around 90% of the female population have either hair extensions or fake nails. Or both.

10. Wivenhoe Mayfair is like, really a thing.

11. You can recognize the accent of a fellow Essexer from a mile off. Yet you have still somehow been mistaken for an Australian if you go either abroad or up north (not kidding).

12. It’s apparently alright for boys to do up only the top button of their shirt. Lolz, it really doesn’t look as good as you think guys.

13. Lambrini is actually some peoples’ drink of choice.

14. At least one person you vaguely know features on ‘What Happens in Kavos’ or ‘The Magaluf Weekender’ each series.

15. D’you remember getting home babes? Don’t be stupid, I barely remember the cab into town. (Be drink aware kids).

16. The amazingly famous Matt Cardle is the ‘big name’ of 2013 turning on your local Christmas lights.

you know youre from essex when image

17. No one can differentiate between private and grammar schools: “You went to a grammar school? Wow, you must be posh and loaded, right?” Er, no. Not the same thing.

18. Even people you meet across the Atlantic seem to have this ill-informed preconception of Essex girls. A knowing “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of Essex” seems to be the typical response.

19. People are genuinely shocked if you’re from Essex and a) went to a decent university, b) can spell and c) can string a full sentence together. It’s almost more comforting for others if you do something ditzy and they can say “oh yeah, there’s the Essex girl in you”.

20. And finally.. .we really do breed some corkers. We are proud to have given birth to the rays of sunshine that are Russell Brand, Louie Spence and Jodie Marsh. Kidding. No, but seriously, some really well-known and highly respected names have come out of Essex: Dermot O’Leary, Ross Kemp, David Gandy, Michelle Dockery, Jo Wood, Olly Murs and none other than Dame Maggie Smith are all Essex natives.

With Essex already having a somewhat shaky reputation, it seems that in recent years our stupid-blonde-bimbo-shut appp- persona has spread like wildfire across continents. Although I’m not the biggest fan of this immediate stereotyping, I do love the fact that Essex is at least known and that the characteristics of the Essex Breed make us so instantly recogn-essex-isable.

you know youre from essex when image.

Cheers to that.

Lizi Woolgar

University of Bristol | 40 stories

Graduate of University of Bristol. Having spent my first two years of University writing for the student newspaper, epigram and Brighton-based Spindle Magazine, I then went on to edit the Style section of Epigram 2012-2013. Now keen to pursue a career in journalism/editorial work, I look forward to writing my weekly column for The College Tourist, all the while seeing where my writing and travel will take me.


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