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It’s one of those summer days where we feel like smiling, blurry faces in an old polaroid. Sunshine tickles our chilly little digits and we skeeter and skip like big boobs in a string bikini. The Lost Prom haven’t seen each other for a while, so our trip to Southend, once again in the company of honorary Prommer Lindsey, has a giddy first-time feel.

 

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We start the day with banana milkshakes and omelettes in the Pier Arches Café. The lovely waiter takes pictures of us with our cameras, gives Lindsey a different colour straw so she can“be different” and then entrusts us with the key to a special, secret toilet.

 

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Well set up for a good wander, we stroll onto the pier but quickly stroll off again when we find it’s £3 just to walk along it. The lady on the gate doesn’t exactly sell its delights to us; “What’s on the end of it?” “Just a lifeboat station and a café”. Oh OK, we won’t bother then. Southend Pier is the world’s longest pleasure pier and Arthur and Terry used to march along it throughout the ’80s in the end credits of ‘Minder’. But even the thought of bellowing along to “I Could Be So Good For You” is not enough to tempt us to part with £3.

 

Scream if you wanna go faster

Scream if you wanna go faster

 

Instead we meander along the seafront checking out the sunbathers. There are scores of people, of all races and nationalities, plastered onto the muddy looking beach, united only by big bottoms and questionable dress sense. They speak many languages but their lingua franca is Cockney. And Southend is where they come to escape the smog of London for the scree of Essex. From picnicking pensioners to gangstas, taking a day off from gangsta-ing to lick ice lollies on the sea front, Southend is alive today. It is not a particularly attractive town, but on a hot day like today it has a brash holiday sense of thrills and spills with a whiff of danger.

 

Tough Luck

Tough Luck

 

Now for the arcades, where Lindsey is trying to record sounds for an ‘apocalyptic fête’ she is planning as part of the music festival (Watts Fest) she helps to run. Old ladies playing bingo stare at us suspiciously so we slink around the back where we find a pile of broken, abandoned arcade machines, an overstuffed red armchair and an ornate iron gate saying ‘Orient Express’ which leads to a rubbish tip. A man in a mobility scooter smoking a pipe cruises by. We are tempted by a £1.50 bounce on a trampoline, and think about tucking our skirts into our knickers, but well, we’ve just eaten. So instead, we explore Adventure Island theme park where Lindsey records some screams.

 

Adventure Island

Adventure Island

 

We stop to get an ice cream from Rossi’s, a 1930s ice cream parlour famous in Southend. Lindsey has maple walnut, Tamsin has butterscotch and Nhung has classic Whippy. For want of any benches or pleasant spots of green, we sit licking them by the roadside. The man in the mobility scooter goes by again…

 

I'll be on my mobile

I'll be on my mobile

 

It’s time for a trawl around the shops and we make a few modest charity shop buys. However, the best shop in Southend is Bubblegum Records (downstairs from retro clothing shop Now Voyager). It is packed with vinyl, including a big selection of 7”s at 20p a pop or 7 for £1. Tamsin buys 11. Confusingly, we overhear a teenage boy getting overexcited about finding a Rush record. Rush? What are they teaching them nowadays?

 

Salvo the Clown

Salvo the Clown

 

On the strength of its nice retro lampshades, we stop for a drink at the Market Place. Lindsey knocks over a dog bowl and we discuss inadvertent enemas on water slides. Then we head back to the seafront, on the way encountering Southend legend Salvo the Clown, a slightly unnerving man who stands on the high street every weekend making balloon animals for children (and on our trip, hen parties).

 

The tide is low

The tide is low

 

We want to go for a paddle but the sea has mysteriously disappeared and the beach, never very beautiful, is now a sludgy black swamp with various young girls emerging from it looking as if they’ve been mud wrestling with drunk octopi. Lindsey finds a plastic joke torso on the promenade. Then we sit for a bit on some pebbles and enjoy the late afternoon sun. It’s nice being at the seaside in the summer.

 

The longest pier

The longest pier

 

Lost

A dip in the sea (due to the tide going out)

Nose for the boom mic on Lindsey’s sound recorder – almost (she had to go bounding down the road after it as it rolled away)

 

Big wheel

Big wheel

 

Found

Brown umbrella with fake bamboo handle

Green soup mug with the logo ‘Hot Soup’

Brown & white patterned scarf

11 7” singles

Plastic torso

Salvo the Clown

Summer fun

 

Clown feet

Clown feet

 

 

Please be seated

Please be seated

 

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