“Ken’s a legend,”writes Thierry to me earlier that day. He’s not wrong. Ken Worpole's book The New English Landscape opened my eyes when I first read it, turning my under-appreciation of Essex into something close to unconditional pride.
I’ve been shuttling out to the Essex coast for nearly 20 years, to the extent that I can recite the Fenchurch St to Shoeburyness line in my sleep — Basildon, Pitsea, Benfleet — But I grew up among rolling Hardy hills and clear Purbeck seas. At first I felt let down by the brown wash of estuary and pylon-laced fields: the edgeland landscape that emerged east of London. I'd venture out longing for an escape and return home with a head full of grey in winter, stinking of chips and sunburn in summer. Turns out I just wasn’t looking right.