Where’s my favourite part of the British Isles coast? Easy: Southend. My dad grew up in Barking, Essex, but he was from Leigh-on-Sea originally. So that was always spoken about when I was growing up – the cockle sheds and The Peterboat pub down in Leigh Old Village. And then my great-granddad, Granddad Wolff, he bought a beach hut: Number 434 at Shoeburyness. So by the time I came along – although we ended up living just across the border, as my dad used to phrase it, in Enfield – every weekend more or less was spent down the beach hut, which Dad actually inherited in the end.
Every Saturday throughout the summer we’d do that horrific drive down the A127 just to spend the day at the beach hut. Dad would sometimes catch cockles and do them in a pan. We’d serve them with vinegar and black pepper and sit there, roasting. I always remember it as hot, but it doesn’t seem possible, does it? I don’t have any rainy memories. I lived in Southend for a while as an adult – I’ve got a bus named after me there. Stand-up is a tough career and sometimes, if I’d not had the best day, I could walk out of my door and within 20 minutes I’d be down there (by the estuary). The pebbles would be crunching under my feet. I could get a pot of cockles, maybe sit down at the pier with the wind in my hair and just smell the saltwater.
Shoebury and the beach hut are in my memoir, Son of a Silverback, and Southend is mentioned all the time. It’s just a massive part of my childhood. The book’s like a biography of my dad, Dave Kane, and what it’s like growing up with this dominating, silverback Essex male who’s into everything that’s masculine. It’s a very funny, no-holds-barred account of a clash of cultures. Now I’ve ended up moving right inland, in Cheshire, I do miss the sea. I would like to move back to Southend one day. I see myself sat on a deckchair with my trousers pulled up too high, eating cockles, swearing at the sunshine. I do feel like my heart’s there.
Son of a Silverback by Russell Kane is out now (£16.99, hardback, Bantam Press).
Right things on the right
- Accommodation: Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident.
- Hiking Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae.
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