I was watching a programme on BBC4 (oh yeah, I am VERY cultured) called “The Last Whites of The East End”, all about how the white people in East London have been steadily replaced by people from Somalia, Bangladesh and Pakistan and it got me thinking about how Billericay has suffered a similar fate. When I first came to this town, it was a lovely peaceful place. No one locked their doors. Kids played outside. Families had lived and worked here for generations; they even spoke with that soft Essex-drawl of an accent, that you only hear now if you head North past Chelmsford. But steadily people started arriving from their bomb damaged homelands, seeking refuge in a safer place. Land was acquired to house whole communities, who wished to carry on living as they did before, without wanting to assimilate to local customs and ways, dressing differently and speaking a strange dialect. Yes, it was the invasion of the Cockneys.
A deliberate policy of councils resettling Eastenders had accelerated to alarming levels, as more and more arrive on an almost daily basis. Having established a ghetto in Outwood Common, it wasn’t long before they started parading around the town in their traditional dress of claret and blue, with their shaven heads and ceremonial tattoos. A pie and mash shop was opened to cater for their traditional taste in food, you can smell the liquor from miles away. Anyone not from Poplar or Bow was aggressively dismissed as “yokels”. Today, they are the dominant force, joined by their brothers, newly arrived from Romford and Chadwell Heath. On Saturday lunchtimes, the air is pierced with their religious chants of “Irons, Irons, Irons…”, as they make their holy journey to the East End to worship at their huge temple, The London Stadium. They speak a strange rhyming language, it’s English – sort of – but all the “H”s are dropped and each sentence ends with “Junno whameen”, while swaying animatedly from side to side.
They are just so different to us people that have lived here before; they don’t drive Range Rovers or Mercedes, instead cars built near their homeland at Dagenham. They don’t shop at Waitrose and have established a Poundland instead. Wine bars have become nail bars. Good bye Rising Sun pub, hello Sunrise Tanning Salon. I worry because it’s all affecting even my kids’ education; I dread my son coming home from school saying he no longer wants to play rugby and support Saracens to opt for football and West Ham, having been corrupted by the new arrivals on his playground. My friend Matthew insists we have to integrate with these people and is now happy to be addressed in a more multi-cultural “Matty Boy” by his new friends, so as not to cause offence. I’m not sure I can take much more; if this carries on, I am selling up and moving my family out to Stock!