University, the great melting pot. Where people from all four corners of the country collide and meet in an orgy of post A-level oneupmanship.
At one of my first nights at university in a drunken stupor I lost my new housemates and somehow through either luck, judgement or serendipity I got talking to someone who happened to live in our halls.
Swapping the usual first year standards: A-level results, which degree, which halls and when I asked where she was from and she said “Billericay” I replied with “but you don’t sound Irish”.
Now what you have to bear in mind that while I was a well travelled individual at the age of 18, I’d done all my travelling before I was four years old. I’d lived in the South Pacific, travelled through Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, America and beyond. However, since then I’d spent most of my time in the North. Sure there were holidays to the South, but they were always to the South West. We never went to the South East. Never ever ever and because of this my geography of the area was sketchy at best, downright rubbish at worst.
What you also have to realise is that despite living literally within a stone’s throw of the Irish Sea, I’d never actually been to Ireland either. At the age of 18 I could probably count on the fingers on one hand the amount of Irish people I’d actually met and I definitely hadn’t met anyone from Essex. So when would I have had the chance to ask someone whereabouts in Ireland Billericay is?
What should’ve made me realise it was in England was when occasionally it was included as part of the FA Cup third round scores. Still, no matter. It looked Irish, I could imagine an Irish person saying it so in my mind it was in Ireland.
“Billericay’s not in Ireland, it’s in Essex,” said Jo. And she was right of course, being a native Essexian. She’s got the full proper accent to prove it.
According to wikipedia, these ‘famous’ people are from Billericay:
- Alison Moyet, British pop singer, born in Billericay
- Mark Foster, British swimmer, born in Billericay
- Russell Tovey, British actor, has Billericay as his hometown
- Stewart Robson, former English football player, born in Billericay
- Kevin Painter British darts player, born in Billericay
- Teresa Gorman, politician, former Member of Parliament
- Paul Parker (footballer), was raised in Billericay and lived there when he became a professional football player.