This part of town was my first home as an adult, after college. My husband had secured a graduate placement at a bank in Southend proper, and we needed somewhere that wasn’t living with my parents. That house was almost an end of terrace railway cottage, third bedroom only recently made into a bathroom, still with the space for an outside toilet. It was decorated by college mates over several years.
Southchurch is typical I suspect of many places: an accurate barometer of how life changes for ordinary people, day to day. It’s seen the rapid rise of the ‘flats on top, business below’ housing expansion that is prevalent around the rest of the Borough. It still has more churches per square mile than anywhere else: you fall over these places, incongruous but always welcoming, inviting.
This place will always be fondly remembered, and often revisited. For the record, the Red Astra that inspired this piece was finally written off after a six car pile up on the A127, that all happened behind me. The insurance payout was enough to purchase a new laptop. It’s amazing how you remember these things…
Chase dreams, young woman, knocking down
earmarked landmarks, development’s
opportunity stocks, bond guilt-edged future last:
your plot, begins.
Reach for the starts, add red Astra, daily knocks
to and from old line’s arse end,
into grief then back again, reminded almost daily;
your world, screwed up.
Wasted days, warm weather fronts, instead
enlightenment erupts through Blockbuster,
late Sainsburys, rental meals bind Devil’s deals:
a plot can change.
Existence, single road, marked ends, all life
stacked flat-packed in-between, billion crosses
each square mile, churches open doors, then smile;
now help yourself.
That day, annoyed with everything, both
drove away to somewhere else, space race,
face relocated west, where life remains, retained;
their plot, advanced.