Stratford, gateway to Essex, 2017
Well populated though the sound map is, there’s not much in the west, those towns and suburbs that all too often are declared to be places that used to be in Essex or have become London when in fact all that’s happened is the county has stayed the same and the administration has changed, two different things but an argument for another occasion.
I passed through Stratford a few weeks ago with crowds converging from The O2 in Greenwich on the Jubilee Line and the former Olympic Stadium across the road, worth a return visit.
So next time up I made the short detour from West Ham and recorded this, Transport for London and Greater Anglia taking you out to Ipswich, Witham, Clacton and Southend, chock full of metropolitan, urban, suburban and rural Essex places. There may not be recordings from all of these places just yet, but at the least the names are here.
A band called The Severed Limb have a song called “Southend Express” which is a journey out from London to Southend Victoria and then onto Leigh, a bit like “Route 66” or “Night Train”, it’s a list of places. The sequence is a bit all over the place for it to scan, but it’s out there. The Famous Potatoes (whom you can hear playing “Miss Cindy” on the “Paglesham, East End, Sea Wall” recording) have a song called “8 more miles to Leigh-on-Sea”, which is a reworking of “8 more miles to Louisville”, a story of travelling up and down the railroad the whole county wide, Stepney East to Horndon West. And Billy Bragg (The Bard of Barking) has his reworking of “Route 66”, “A13 Trunk Road to the Sea”. And I’m sure there are other songs out there with Essex places starring just like platform 10 at Stratford.
And that’s without mentioning Stratford as home of the gods, up there with Los Angeles California, Wembley Middlesex, Melbourne Victoria, Sydney New South Wales, Atlanta Georgia, Munich Bavaria, Tokyo, Paris, Rio De Janiero and no end of exotic places.