The Old Odeon Building :: Connected

The prefab in the header’s what they gave us to replace this beautiful building that I pretty much lived in for about four years. It was not unusual for me to watch films two or three times a day, remaining sat in the auditorium for hours on end. However, this site has a far more esoteric claim to fame, local urban myth that eventually gained legendary status: it was the birthplace of Demon Internet.

Demon Internet is a British Internet service provider, currently operating as a brand of Vodafone. It was one of the UK’s earliest ISPs, offering dial-up Internet access services from 1 June 1992.

From Wikipedia

To be clear: Cliff Stanford, the company’s founder, is a local lad very much made good. We signed up for the service in October of 1992, and remained loyal customers until 2016, so there’s always been a vested interest. The story around the company’s origins however was debunked in a 1998 interview, yet it still doggedly persists.

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The Independent, Saturday 2 May 1998

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The side exit. I hung about a lot around here too.

I miss that cinema, and not because of the memories that went with it. Watching movies in multiplexes is boring. Give me massive screens and proper chairs and none of this concession stand rubbish you’re handed today. There’s probably several reason why Joni Mitchell came to mind when this one was written…


Connected

(sung to the tune of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’)

They paved my high street
and shifted the Odeon
from that spot near the nightclub
to its own custom built multiplex.
Watching our years rolling on
it’s always childhood history gone;
miles of paving stones
development’s what you’ve got (got got got got)

Internet start-up
shoved in that basement space
modems racked up forever
baud rate for fledgling nerds to chase.
Watching old world digitise
new truths ‘come simpler to disguise
Demon’s in the ether
be grateful for what you’ve got (got got got got)

Then one day, unity took a hit
and virtually overnight,
everything went horribly wrong…
Leave, Remainers, moaners all
politicians dropping their balls:
this was paradise
Chaos is what you’ve got (got got got got)
this was paradise
Chaos is what you’ve got (got got got got)
this was paradise
Chaos is what you’ve got…
(laughs so much she sheds bitter, painful tears)

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Arse end.

 

Southend Amusements :: The Golden Mile

I could have written a poem about the Pier (built in 1830 and stretching some 1.34 miles (2.16 km) into the Thames estuary) but instead that’s what gives this collection of poems its name. I could have written about the Kursaal (opened in 1901 as part of one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks) but it already gets way too much attention to begin with.

For me, Southend is a memory of very early childhood: parents, coming here and eating food from a van, with me in tow. The smell of onions is strong and persistent: enough, as it transpired, to spark  taste of them on my tongue whilst sitting here and typing. That’s a pretty compelling pull to a place that in daylight appears worlds away from the darkness of a car’s back seat.

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Paradise, Essex Style.

Instead of taking the cheap option and going for neon and light pollution, I show you my town as I feel it looks best: bright sunshine, quiet calm, without the insistent clamour of thousands of people all here on a jolly from up west. This is the place where toddlers squeal in the fountains, couples sit quietly and enjoy the sun, and the future is yours to sit and dictate without fear.

The title of this piece? Thank you, Southend’s Britpop pioneers.


The Golden Mile

Mythical places, written in light
expectations stretch beyond reach:
daylight reveals shabby chic beneath
they’re other’s names, future’s yours
grant fresh descriptions to belief;
winner slots in, it’s you.

Understanding great escape
a golden mile, accelerate away:
daun sarf, maybe up west,
whichever destination’s best
allowance stretching consciousness;
escapes her seaside frown.

Night-time’s onion song remains
childhood past, remembrance:
foreign countries, partly-lit
innocence smiles, different then
returning time, again to hear;
history shrugs, intentions clear.

Central Southend / The Forum :: Sixteen Dots

The £27m Forum Library in Southend was opened  to the public in September 2013, having moved from its previous location after being commissioned in 2011. The new building, plus the Focal Point Gallery is built on the what was previously the Farringdon car park, and offers immediate access from Southend Central station to this and other campus buildings.

It was created by a rare venture between often disparate entities, being jointly funded by South Essex College, the University of Essex and Southend Borough Council. The building houses books and other material for the general public whilst simultaneously granting access to about one million academic works, including books and journals, across multiple floors, with a lecture theatre and a restaurant.

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Gateway to Learning

This building’s been open for six years, and the first time I acknowledged its existence was at the start of this project. This is nothing to be proud of, on reflection: however, it does serve as a potent reminder that my mental health issues have been responsible for a great many things, agoraphobia amongst them. Once upon a time, just coming here would have been excessively difficult.

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You’ve come a long way, baby…

So, let us remember the car park, and the nightclub, and the things that existed before this new building was placed here, whilst attempting to grasp how things change, and we must attempt to alter with them….

Also, I learnt to renew my library books online. That’s cool.


Sixteen Dots

Round windows, synchronised; pins delineate
working spaces, knowledge clouds, outed ignorance;
printed works, loving memories not seen, always recalled.
This used to be a car park then, bays watched
Capris and Escorts servicing; club’s sticky floor,
bouncers ignored, nights brought darkening innocence.
Mirrored light balls, mystery: what will these lives
one day become? Not sound of trains, regret abstains
the self’s perception falters, ticket’s lost.

Delimited necessity, brightness; sky vignettes
observational litany, you are the history of now
her past re-engineered, by concrete, glass and tree.
Everything evolves, including ignorance, dug up
landscaped circles, underlined, marked upwards
processing advanced, well aligned… their future
somehow in safe hands, lives well defined.
Forum’s mass, no longer bays for blood,
nice flat white, no death: cake quite enough.

Sixteen ellipsis context, understood.

Beecroft Gallery / Jazz Centre UK :: People Who Mattered

The Beecroft Art Gallery is a gallery that was formerly located in Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England. The Edwardian building was donated to the people of Southend-on-Sea in 1952 by Walter Beecroft to house his eclectic collection of art works. Walter Beecroft was a solicitor in nearby Leigh. Beecroft also endowed the Beecroft Bequest, an art purchase fund administered by the Museums Association. The Gallery itself moved in 2014 to the former home of the Central Library on Victoria Avenue, space now shared with the Jazz Centre UK.

From Wikipedia

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Unexpected surprises alter your perceptions…

I came here, looking for the Library, which used to be in this building until a larger version opened near the University building. It was a considerable surprise to find not only had everything changed, but that this place had evolved into something far more relevant to my interests. The Jazz Centre UK‘s home in the basement is the surprise that continues to keep on giving for someone who grew up with Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman alongside her dad’s love of 70’s rock.

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This poem is a beginning of sorts, organisation of ideals and setting of intentions for the journey ahead. From this point forward, with the Beecroft Gallery’s council supervisor as my guide, it’s time to work out why I’m here, taking steps back into the past of the town, exploring history that mirrors my own as resident of this borough.


People Who Mattered

Cheryl says:
‘Our journey’s earnest start,
held moment; Spiral Galaxy
old ammonites, punk rocks
together bound with concrete blocks.’

The library’s moved, that way
for years, instead the building
sings blue notes, jazz funk,
Digby’s love song, lines refrain
doors of art, science, history.

Moonshadow says:
‘People who mattered;
lives, recalled, plans
thrown away, middling space
humans, faced, decay aligned.’

Seashelled, shocked
two worlds a thousand quid apart
bars separated, privilege
genteel exhibitionists
musicians basement’s bargain bass.

My liberation states:
‘This moment, here
redefined as starting point:
you are enough, matter
held, birthing redemption, history.’

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The A13 :: Trunk Road of the Free

The A13 is a major road in England linking Central London with east London and south Essex. Its route is similar to that of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, and runs the entire length of the northern Thames Gateway area, terminating on the Thames Estuary at Shoeburyness. It is a trunk road between London and the Tilbury junction, a primary route between there and Sadlers Hall Farm near South Benfleet, and a non-primary route between there and Shoeburyness.

From Wikipedia

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Roads are a part of our daily lives, but few inspire singers to write love stories about them. This poem, as a result, owes a massive debt of gratitude to a man who took the journey between East London and the coast and gave it meaning well beyond simple transportation.

Mr Bragg has significantly impacted my life, and the road which we both have been inspired by remains the less-sensible means to travel in and out of town. You should really take the train, if truth be told, because it makes everything so much easier.

This is my acknowledgement that roads in this town are the start and end of pretty much everything.


A13, Trunk Road of the Free

Humble Bragg, inspired verse…
except I cannot play guitar:
Barking road exhales, evolves,
reduction, two becomes one lane.

Marking Hadleigh’s ending point
Castle ruined, heavy night
Tudor observance awards;
creative Storm, restaurants, bars
car dealerships sold, sharp decline
lead artery pumps life instead;
into construction, geezer pads
flat whites, brown, magnolia
balcony view, old traffic jams
traffic lights, new building site.

False start, dead end
avoid class cliches if you can,
but this is Essex, only way
embrace crass brassy overkill:
Leigh’s hipster beard,
waxed legs chin strapped,
Southchurch base honesty
intact, connected lines
across your app…
old people might still need a map.

My perfect home, borough
scored, three decades plus
this life, abhorred… redeemed
small steps; fear’s end, reward.

 

Two Tree Island :: Bleak, Hoarse

Two Tree Island is a small island lying north-east of Canvey Island and south-west of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, England. It covers 257 hectares (640 acres) and is connected to the mainland at Leigh by a bridge.

The island was reclaimed from the Thames Estuary in the 18th century and used as pasture until 1910 when a sewage works was built on it. From 1936, the entire island was used as a landfill site; this was later reduced to a single small site on the island in 1974. It is now a nature reserve, run by Essex Wildlife Trust, and the eastern half is part of the Leigh National Nature Reserve.

From Wikipedia

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Two Tree Island’s an odd place: not quite the sea, not interesting enough to be land. It doesn’t help this place was a landfill site for decades, but now you’ll only find dog walkers and aircraft enthusiasts amongst the birds and occasional skateboarder. It is a great metaphor for the borough, however: if all you do is take visuals as a guide, so much depth and detail of any place is lost.

This was the first piece to be both written and place photographed; with these words a number of important personal challenges were surmounted. It’s been a long journey as a writer to get here, beginning a new chapter in both life and ability. These words reflect not only evolution, but a distinct line drawn in Essex silt: this is where I begin and end.

I am words written, feelings expressed, without fear.


Bleak, Hoarse

Golden hour,
I came here to begin
next chapter’s transformation

remade through other’s imagery,
inspired
earth to sky,
brown
to gold
adheres, presenting unexpectedly

grubby printed brilliance, webbed feet
pointing path, open silt bar
my usual; steaming,
anticipated
epiphany of
self abstained, regained.

I asked for a sign;
you gave
graffiti covered
rubberised playgrounds
broken boats
peeling
saint’s
names

Pier’s glorious insertion, failures forgotten
thousand harsh rejections sail away
masts of possibility remain,
renewed
mirrored sunrise
into grateful eyes.

Bleak, hoarse failure recedes
to seeds,
green runway, as above, first plane

softens

mumbling to trains.