Tuesday 29 September 2020, 18:45 GMT

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Drive 12th - 16th

Well, another week passes by in the blink on an eye in what is already being described as 'the hardest listen since the Grime twins' - yes it's my second week on Drive. (And speaking of the twins - who is voting for them?! The audience for the X factor just cannot include a horde of Irish teenage girls who like to watch TV with the sound down.)

And although I do like hearing our new work experience kid reading the latest on the X factor - do we really need to have the operatic music, thunderous speaker system and hysterical applause every time one of the acts comes out?! It's only a TV show.

Anyway - we had our own musical talent pop in on Monday in the shape of local singer-songwriter Melissa Serpico popping in to play a couple of tunes. She won't mind me saying she's in her 30s now - but Melissa knows how to craft together a good tune. She told us she doesn't sing well (although I'd disagree, she sung fantastically on Monday) but that her strength is as a songwriter, and if there are any singers out there who'd like some songs written for them - or anyone who wants to lend studio time to Melissa to add a proper production sheen to her songs - she'd be very interested. If anyone wants to team up with her, let me know, I'll pass on the details - if you liked what you heard there are a few of her CDs she left at Pheonix towers for us to hand on. She played fantastically I thought, although her voice was giving out in the first chill of the winter and she couldn't play another tune for us.

Also enjoyed visiting the new Premier Inn at its launch party on Thursday - nice plush building (and nice food as well - especially the little Premier Inn cakes).

Spoke to Ann Kenrick OBE who is chair of a safe routes to school group and has written the new book "Let me out! How to enjoy the school run", on Friday - to co-incide with walk to school month. Her book is about getting more children to walk to school and getting parents to ditch the car more often. One of the main things she mentioned was that schools in Brentwood and Billericay still have the chance to apply for grants for things like cycle racks to encourage more children to cycle to school and give schools the facilities to cope with lots of bikes. Schools can still apply for the School Travel Plan grant of up to £10,000 for schemes to encourage walking and cycling - the grants, though, end next year.

Finally, it was great to speak to Jon Brandler of Brandler Galleries in Brentwood as well on Friday. He was great to talk to - and has a new gallery exhibition of items which hi-light the connection between music and art - such as records with labels and sleeves designed by Damien Hirst and the like. As he said, an artist in one field can easily be an artist in another field, hence the connection between the two fields - and he touched on lots of other fascinating topics as well. He told me things are going well business-wise - and with the internet his customers now stretch as far as Oz and the States.

He also said it's a shame people do sometimes think of art as only being in the big city instead of in Essex which has a thriving art scene - but it's the image people have of the county which they probably only get from a few towns near the M25. And I didn't know it was one newspaper article about Thatcher's winning elections which coined the phrase "Essex man" some years ago - and that stereotype seems to have stuck.

There's still some culture in Brentwood. Honest guv.

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