Monday morning on the Southend to Liverpool Street line. It's only 6.30am but the train is already packed with early morning commuters quaffing coffee and variously pouring over the Sun, the Financial Times, or their iPad for the latest prices.
It's a modern day gold rush into the City.
Five days a week, 52 weeks a year, the hard-working commuters of Essex flood into London's financial Square Mile and the towers of Canary Wharf to help keep the wheels of the British economy turning.
Despite the downturn, the financial sector still produces a greater trade surplus with the rest of the world than the rest of the economy combined. If that's not enough, it generates a staggering 12p in every pound of tax collected.
The financial sector helps fill the Treasury's coffers and - frankly - is the envy of the world, viewed with green eyes by other financial hubs like Wall Street, Frankfurt and Tokyo, to name a few.
Many of the workers who staff our globally-dominant financial sector - including insurance, banking, investment and even corporate law - and, help keep the fires of the British economy stoked, are Essex born and bred.
The prosperity and dynamism of Essex - the nice homes, the busy pubs and bars, the buzzing shopping centres - reflect its close links with what remains, despite recent nasty controversies like Libor and the now long-running global downturn, the undisputed financial centre of the world.
Historically, we've always had a close relationship with the City as a county, firstly geographic, obviously, but also in terms of attitude - the get-up-and-go spirit that exists in spades when you travel into the spaces east of London.
Let me put it this way: Essex is a county of entrepreneurs, risk takers and dreamers. We love a challenge and we're prepared to work hard to achieve our aims. Head out of town past Stratford and the Olympic Park on the A12, or down the A13 through Dagenham, once the home of British motor manufacturing, and you're in a world of ambition and opportunity.
I know loads of working class lads who've become millionaire after starting out making coffee in the Square Mile. I started out as an investment dealer before reality television came calling. And my Essex-born dad has worked his whole career as a broker.
The fact critics like to present the stars of television shows like The Only Way is Essex as uneducated oiks says more about them than us.
Haters may accuse people from Essex of being brash and flash. Frankly, if that's the best they can come up with I can live with that. Yes, maybe we do enjoy our success. Why not? I think TOWIE represents the very best of that get-up-and-go attitude. Okay, it might not be everyone's cup of tea, that's fair enough, but neither is it the trashy, stereotyped cultural poison it's sometimes been unfairly painted as.
When Mo Farah took his second gold medal of the Olympic games he didn't go around apologising for winning. Usain Bolt's victory celebrations don't include getting embarrassed or praising someone else for his amazing athletic feats. Why should our own Essex success stories be any different? If you've got it, flaunt it.
Every penny I've earned has been through hard graft and, yes, I include TOWIE. Television doesn't just make itself. And, while it might look glamorous, it's not all babes, bikinis and bellinis! It's foremostly entertainment, but we all realise we've been given a golden opportunity to make something of ourselves. It's a responsibility.
Many of my cast mates are entrepreneurs in the making. They've opened bars, salons, launched clothing and make-up ranges, and raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity off the back of their celebrity. Sitting on your laurels just doesn't occur to us.
Bankers have, in many ways rightly, had a kicking over the financial crash and its consequences. But banking is only a small but important part of the City of London and Canary Wharf. But for too long people have ignored the positives, both of the City and the county it over looks. And the two are irrevocably interlinked for the better.
As long as the City of London exists, the Essex commuters will be crowding the trains to and from Liverpool Street from dawn to dusk, trudging into banks, brokerages, offices, small and large, whether to make tea or preside over multi-million pound deals, just like they've been doing for more than a century already.
And long may that relationship continue.
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