Better late than never as David Philpott writes an early morning blog about Elvis Doppelgängers in Southend on Sea and the best Bangladeshi food this side of Dhaka


It is a measure of both the success and failure of my business life that I am unable to get the work-life balance right. I wake early - often at the crack-of-silly - to attack the 120 or so emails that have come in since midday the day before (excepting of course at the blessed weekend, when electronic commerce abates like a dammed river). 

The price I pay for these semi nocturnal habits is that it renders me stupefied by three in the afternoon and often good for nothing at all by eight at night when I can easily become the proverbial couch potato. Sticking for one moment with the subject of early morning emailing though, I am not alone in my fetish, for I am often surprised – having clicked the send button – to received within minutes, a reply from another such as I – that is, we who burn the candle at this end of the day – if not at both ends.

However, even the discipline of clearing one’s email inbox does not make all the other stuff simply vanish.  There are reports to write, minutes to read, radio scripts to sign off and advertising design briefs to update.  Work lands on ones desk like trains on the Hammersmith and City Line and just like on said underworld thoroughfare – it seems to arrive every two minutes.

And so, 225 words into this blog – having given my excuses by way of preamble – I can now begin to tell the story of my meeting with The King himself, a full seven days ago.  Whereas I should have been writing this account last Saturday – those who pay this piper have called the tune until now – and other words have been written about other things in my work, work, work, work, work, work – life imbalance.

It was Debbie’s birthday bash and we had decided months before, that this was something we were not prepared to miss. At six years younger than me, The King of Rock and Roll was dead within six months of my youngest sister becoming a teenager, but her fascination with his music has always intrigued us. Last Friday, we set out from the Garden of England to find out if it was true that The Only Way was Essex and arrived in Shoeburyness in time to partake again – for the first time in many-a-year - in the cuisine of the world famous Polash Restaurant. You may think that describing Bangladeshi food as cuisine is at best an oxymoron and at worse an abuse of the Queen’s English, but that is only because you have never eaten at the Polash.  Those who have and do, know different.  Replete, we set out for The Castle – this, not an historic monument – but a pub on the promenade in Southend on Sea. And it was here that we saw, then shook the hand of Mr Elvis Presley.

Sitting on our barstools, I cast me eye around the room and just caught a glimpse of Marilyn Monroe slipping into the ladies.  Glen Miller supped at his pint in the corner and surely not – was that Diana Spencer I could see momentarily - prepping food in the kitchen - each time the service door opened? The surreal evening got even better when there were not one but two doppelgangers on the stage being all shook up.

It was only one Elvis that we had come to see though and that was Patrick Byrne. On stage (well, a raised bit of floor in the corner of the pub really) he curled his lip and introduced each song as if he were the boy from Tupelo himself – a fusion of Southern drawl meets Hollywood.  When he came to talk to us at the bar, he was Pat from Basildon – or as those of us who know Essex refer to it – Bas Vegas.  A great night was had by all. Debbie turning 35 (ahem) had been well marked by this event.  

As we crossed the Dartford Bridge on the way home, my mind wandered back to a night nearly three years ago at the Little Silver Hotel in Tenterden, when Neil Webster, then the Managing Director of Heart FM, Sangeeta Bhabra – she of Meridian Tonight and Peter Gilroy – former Chief Executive of Kent County Council – became our Elvis Factor judges for the evening as a dozen wannabe’s strutted their stuff and allayed our suspicious minds – the whole event organised by the best damn fundraiser I have ever hired.

…………and then I remembered how in those dim and distant days, I did not have to wake at three or four in the morning to get all my emails done and the pace of life was oh, so much slower………………………….and I knew in that moment, that I would not swap what I had then for the excitement and challenge that I have now for all the tea in Tupelo.


Watch the Elvis Doppelgangers here: