Post 3: “Do you know Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub?”

July 27, 2016

Here's the 3rd installment of Aryeh Myers and my month long writing challenge. A bit of fun following yesterday's more personal piece. Hope you enjoy it!


I love Chigwell, a leafy town in Essex where I grew up. It’s twinned with Mantes la Ville, don’t you know? It has idyllic rolling fields, beautiful hundreds-of-years-old cottages, quirky little village shops and bags of character. Until I changed schools in 1985, I didn’t give it much thought, it was just a lovely place to live and where my friends could be found. Then I found myself mixing with North Londoners and began to dread the question “Where are you from?” as my reply would bring certain standard responses.


“Where are you from?”
Response 1: “Is that near Chigley?”
Response 2: “Is that near Trumpton?”
Response 3: “Is that near Camberwick Green?”


For those not au fait with children’s TV shows of that era, they were referring to fictional countryside locations from the Trumptonshire Trilogy, a stop-motion animated series narrated by Brian Cant off of Playaway.

Then 1989 brought a new version, which went something like this:


“Where are you from?”
Response 1: “Do you know Sharon and Tracy?”
Response 2: “Is Dorian your neighbour?”
Response 3: “Is your husband in prison?” Reader, I wasn’t even married (yet).


For those not au fait with trashy sitcoms of that time, they were referring to Birds of a Feather, the merry romp detailing the trials and tribulations of a couple of sisters with husbands in the clink and a pushy sex-obsessed neighbour.


Both of those series had come to an end and I had years of peace, until 2010 when Essex became famous for tangerine tans, public bad behaviour and vajazzling. TOWIE has run for 18 series in the past 6 years, and despite frequent visits back to Chigwell I have never been papped, filmed arguing outside Faces nightclub or had a spa treatment of any kind. It’s as if they don’t want a real Essex girl on screen.


Although those programmes were a bit of a blight on my origins, I used to get a big kick out of telling people that the nearest station to my house was Grange Hill. This was a mistake.


Response 1: “Do you know Roland?”
Response 2: “Is Mrs McClusky your mum?”
Response 3: “Did you just say no?”


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