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.
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.