THERE is an addictive and worrying new trend growing among the young ladies of Southend. It is slowly replacing nightclubbing, pubbing, ice skating, dogging and any other activity which ends with "ing" you care to mention.
I know this because I believe it was invented by the Fat Kid and her bezzie (that means best friend, if you're down with the kids like me).
What you do is this: Get dressed up in your best bib and tucker, chuck on the slap, fill your best handbag with fags, make up and anything else young girls carry in their handbags, gather all your friends then chose a designated driver (preferrably one with a non-descript car).
Once the clan is gathered you jump into the car and head off in the direction of one of your ex-boyfriends' houses.
The official name for this activity? Stalking.
Now, we have all heard of stalking. Normally it involves some rich celebrity having their every move scrutinised by some nutter who believes they have a bond with their target. Generally it ends in tears, restraining orders and, in the most severe cases, a jail term.
But in this case the stalkee is blissfully unaware they are being stalked. There is no direct contact, molotov cocktails aren't thrown through windows and there is no breaking and entering or hiding in attics. Certainly no bunnies are hurt in the course of this trivial pursuit.
I am not really sure of the merits of this activity, but as far as I can see it provides an endless source of banter, laughter and fun for the stalkers. And the only cost is a small amount of petrol.
As for the stalkee? Well, generally, they remain blissfully unaware of what is going on outside their front door.
What doesn't quite fit is the dress code. I am not sure why the stalkers have to dress up as if they are attending the hottest nightclub in town when, as I hear it, they end up having to jump into bushes or crawl along muddy ground to conceal their presence in the vicinity of said ex-boyfriend's home.
With the Fat Kid I am still trying to work out what she is hoping to achieve. My recollection of one of the stalkees is that all the time she knew him he sat in the house either glued to some boring cop chase show on tv, smoked the odd spliff, played computer games against his mates who were rooted to their own couches, dozed off and complained at any faint hint that they should maybe go out and find something interesting to do. But hey, that's me.
It's the Fat Kid's way of enjoying a cheap night out... and it is spreading rapidly.
So, boys of Southend, if you notice a slight movement in the bush across the road, or hear a faint giggle, or notice an unfamiliar car pass your house for the third time, don't worry... just sit back down, light up your doobie and continue your quest to pimp out another prostitute in the latest version of Grand Theft Auto.