"Good evening. I'm from Essex, in case you couldn't tell." Thus spoke the inimitable punk poet of the flat lands, Ian Dury, in 1977. Few other parts of England have so distinctive an identity, sent up by a hundred comedians since the 1990 birth of Essex Man, epitomised by the rise of the 'Mockney' radio celeb, and incarcerated through their hideous offspring in TV's The Only Way is Essex. It's not just an accent, it's a way of life, a culture shaped by the Diaspora from London generation after generation, the lure of the sea and powerful Thames estuary, the encroaching of the waters from innumerable creeks and inlets, the dream seaside resort of Southend, the longing for the most succulent of seafood indulgences, the delicious countryside of copses and boughs painted by Constable, but also the threat of invasion by hostile forces repelled by Britain's most formidable forts. It's Essex. You can tell.