Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scruffy toffs or just scruffy in the country?

V amusing piece in the Mail today by the wife of the F***ing Fulford. It's a response to the pic of Rachel Johnson that has apparently caused outrage around the country - she was photographed in her country home in a supremely scruffy sitting-room, with wellies on indoors, unhoovered rug by fire, sleeping bag as a 'throw' on armchair (itself with stuffing threatening to burst out any second), old LPs haphazardly on the shelf etc.

Mrs Fulford (Lady Fulford? Whatever) defends this position and explains that toffs love scruff - it's more comfy, it's nicer for the dogs, it's less work and why would you ever take your boots off when you're going to go outside shortly anyway?

I can testify to this - I think it's less about being toff than country though. In my flat in London, I polish the bathroom mirror and the glass sideboard at least every other day, I hoover as soon as the carpet needs it (ie almost every time I look at it), I make the bed beautifully even when it's only me that's going to see it, washing up is never left in the bowl and cushions are fluffed and magazines, tv remote controls etc put away every night before going to bed. If I feel the slightest bit of chill, the heating is whacked on and I have an immersion boiler so that I can have as much hot water as I want, whenever I want it. I have an electric blanket on my bed and if I want to switch it on in July, I damn well do. When I go out, which is most every night, I am dolled up to the nines with freshly washed hair and clean, ironed clothes.

In the country there is no heating on between May and October and even then it's on as little as possible, Him-Indoors (country and quite toff) would rather we just huddled closer to the fire (see blog passim for notes on being scorched on one side, frozen on the other). Anyone who complains of the cold is told to put on another jumper. He positively relishes a cold bed with maybe just the feel of burning rubber from a hot water bottle on snowy nights. I never take my wellies off if I can help it. The hoovering is done when I feel like it (ie almost never). It only really comes out when the cobwebs threaten to obscure the walls completely and we have to suck up all the spiders.

My bath in the morning is always 'grey' - I go second (my bf likes it hotter than me so he goes first) - which saves time and water. We don't use the timer for hot water as that might heat up more than we need and uses up the precious oil - we just switch the immersion on for an hour (and boil kettles to do the washing up). Needless to say, there is no hot water to wash your hands at any point in the day. I never dust - don't be silly. I once bought special cloths for cleaning mirrors and was asked "what fool spends money on this sort of thing?" and they have consequently only been used once.

Dogs come to the house and are welcome everywhere - especially on the sofa (but I say no to the bed). The favourite house game is indoor cricket. The same clothes are worn for at least three days in a row - my bf even favouring the shirt/jumper-in-one combo for dressing with ease. Socks are maybe given an airing overnight - hanging out of the bathroom window - but still worn the next day. My hair is unruly and far too curly and I have no inclination to iron anything worn beyond the M25. We never go out anyway.

I wouldn't have one without the other - they are both bliss in their own way. But there's no question that my life in the country is much more 'green'. We are considering a permanent this space.

Blackberries and carnivals

Not to be smug - just a tad, perhaps - but had one of those idyllic weekends: long walks in the sunshine through a beauteous village and its surrounding woods. Then blackberry picking - collecting a haul big enough to attempt Ramsay's blackberry meringue pie (not picture perfect result but still delish). Even made home-made beetroot soup too. Lazed, ate, read the papers. Finally reached the end of being on holiday or even wanting to be. So got the train back to London on Monday night. Couldn't have come home to a greater contrast: the tail end of the Notting Hill Carnival. We waded against the groups of revellers wendin their own way home and felt quite left out without a joint in one hand and a can of Stella in the other. An impromptu disco was taking place on the pavement by my flat and I had to push past a crowd of Japanese tourists sitting on the front steps. By 11pm the party was over, bar a few stragglers shouting drunkenly and the odd tooting horn. The next morning the streets were cleaned, although there was a broken bottle of wine and a thousand fag ends on the steps. Ah, home sweet home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aristo outrage

Update on the below. Since that bbq, I wrote a piece for the Telegraph on sex and horses ( and mentioned the Happy Valley story.
Turns out, someone in the village emailed the story link to EVERYONE and they all know it's me. I'm half expecting to find a cross painted on the front door. Actually, apparently they all find it pretty funny....apart from the local aristo who is apparently furious with me. So I don't think I'll be asked to cut the ribbon for the local fete anytime soon....