The New East Enders Rain Down on a Sun Drenched Southend

At the end of a nine day run of hot sunshine, a most surreal week, East Enders furtively ferreted out their ice boxes, shorts and plastic spades and buckets, and piled on to the train to Southend. At Southend station a family from God knows where in South East Asia is stood near the ticket gates. A man in his mid thirties, with beautiful eyes, dressed in an Indian office shirt, and black trousers, and his middling wife, middling in all aspects and their two children, accompanied by two elder women, with platted black hair, both dressed in saris, one Golden the other dark pink. As the Indian man checks his families’ tickets at the barrier, he looks with caution at two or three white men, big fellas, having a laugh, jauntily, an air of alcohol wafting from them, as they cut through the air with Eastern European melodies, and past the wary Indian man. Meanwhile a gaggle of Black women, wearing skin tight body suits of one kind or another, with great hair, false eye lashes and lip stick, somewhere between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, some carrying young children, congregate at the gate, in conference. These are the new East Enders, and they have come for rides, amusement, sun burn, gravelly sand and murky sea water that EU mandarins grimace at. These are the families who wincing in the heat, manoeuvre their baby laden buggies, past the sun dried lobsters drinking lager on wooden tables outside seafront pubs, into the cafes, and consider slush puppies and shakes with sugar and no taste, and white baps, butter and what to have with their chips. The new East Enders, of Barking and West Ham, enjoying a Sunday like many have done before them, all slotting effortlessly into a tradition laid out for them, tattoed into the landscape around the reach of that C-2-C totem.

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