I live in the town of Basildon, Essex. It is a largely average, suburban setting, which, like my former home of Stevenage, was massively expanded upon as a New Town, in order to handle the overspill of London’s ballooning population. There are certain perceptions of Essex as a whole as being a bit… coarse? Rough? Uncouth? Maybe it is fairer to say that Essex, and thus Basildon, are considered as ‘common’. The Essex accent is perceived as heavily influencing Cockney dialect, and if you have ever heard a Cockney accent, you will therefore have a broad grasp of what some people in and from Essex sound like.
I prefer to think of us Essex folk (and naturally, by extension, Basildon folk) as being down to earth. When people refer to Basildon as being rough, common, coarse etc, they might be ever-so-loosely right, in that there are some bad apples, but then again, you will find that anywhere. Basildon is not a dive, it’s not especially seedy, or run-down, or a dangerous place to live. It shares many of the same traits – good and bad – of other New Towns, across various counties. I have had the honour of meeting many absolutely lovely people in Basildon, and I see Basildon as home. I will always carry a soft spot for Stevenage, which is where I was raised, but Basildon is home. It is where I founded my own nest, so to speak. It is not a perfect town, but it is a good one.