Wednesday, 2 January 2013

In the Footsteps of Angelina?

Most of my trips back to my childhood home town of Southend-on-Sea  take in a  little amble along its iconic pleasure pier which is the longest in the entire world!  It's a lovely bracing 1.3 mile walk that goes out nearly as far as the busy shipping lanes that lead up the Thames to the Port of London. The vistas from this unique vantage point are spectacular.  Distant industrial landscapes, maritime to-ings and fro-ings and a panoramic view of  about seven or eight miles of the South East Essex shoreline.
It seemed fitting that my brother should take his girlfriend down the pier on her inaugural trip to Southend, just to show her that Essex isn't just about jellied eels and tanning salons.  Louis and I tagged along as gooseberries to the loved up couple.  Of course there are always disagreements when siblings get together.  Paul insisted that a bear lived in a cage in Southchurch Park, our local haunt when we were kids.  I pooh-poohed the idea as a figment of  an overactive artistic imagination.   Although he was wrong in the detail there was a black bear, a boy one that was confusingly called Lulu, who was housed in the early '70s in Chalkwell Park at the other end of the borough, after being rescued from a boat on the Thames.  I'm not sure whether being prodded by a bunch of grubby kids was a better deal than a life for the poor animal than a life out on the high seas.

Since Paul's returned to Norfolk I've found that he might have been spinning me another yarn conceived in his creative noggin.  He was absolutely adamant that Angelina Jolie had eaten in the now defunct pop up restaurant at the pier head that was conceived as part of Jamie and Jimmy's Food Fight.  Now I've combed the Internet looking for evidence of this but no trace!  What I have found though is the name of the artist who created these wonderful mosaics that epitomise views from the pier and are displayed in its ticket office.  He's called Paul Siggins and he has a  studio  in nearby Leigh-on-Sea.   It's just a pity that these beautiful works are not displayed to their best effect and are hidden away behind racks of cards and souvenirs in the gift shop.

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