City folk, my lover? Moving to the West Country to grow their own taters, with all their flash cars, trophy wives, and teeth? Oi can’t stand ‘em!”
It’s a common story: rural, down-to-earth types hating foppish yuppies, fresh from the city, buying property in the middle of nowhere to soak up a bit of local goodness. But recently, one “yokel” (eek! Don’t kill me!) living near Pixton Stables, near Dulverton, Exmoor, has taken things a step further. He or she has targeted Richard Caring, one of London’s most successful entrepreneurs (The Ivy, the Soho House group) by shooting two of the 20 £2,000 stag that roam the 500-acre estate Caring bought for £1m in 2005. The deaths, which took place in September, were particularly horrid (one stag bled to death over six hours), which begs the question, whodunit? Is it a former client, thrown into emotional turmoil by a soggy salad? Hmmm. Caring hopes to discover the answer by issu
ing a £10,000 reward for the shooter’s identity. Thankfully, such acts of rural retaliation are in the minority. “It’s certainly not our experience,” says Jill Grieve, a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance. But what about columnist Liz Jones, whose home, also close to Dulverton, had its mailbox peppered with shotgun fire last month? Perhaps that was because Jones damned local men in print as “toothless shelf-stackers”. Sigh. Maybe urbanites need to learn some lessons from popular culture.
DON’T be a metropolitan nerd who locks himself away for hours on end studying maths (Dustin Hoffman, Straw Dogs, 1971). No one likes a smart arse.
DON’T “prance like a tit” when out and about so that poachers (Michael Elphick in Withnail and I, 1987) threaten to “work on you”. That’ll get you beaten up anywhere.
DON’T wear a three-piece suit (if you’re a man) or heels (for the ladies) if you’re working on a farm (US television series Green Acres, 1965-1971). It’ll make you look like a Beverly Hillbilly/idiot.
DON’T give up as a career as a diamond merchant to move to the middle of nowhere to become a teacher (Clym Yeobright, a character in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, 1878). You’ll go blind and end up becoming a preacher. No fun.
DO attempt to grow your own while attempting to wean kids off heroin (Monty Don’s 2006 television series Growing Out of Trouble). It’ll make ladies everywhere (teeth or no teeth) go weak at the knees.
DO choose a foreign country (like France), wrestle delightfully with the Provençal accent, and record the mouth-watering meals you have in a humorous, affectionate way (A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, 1989). You might get a national treasure playing you in your own mini-series. Rob Sharp
Smalls are big news on the catwalk
The standard fashion reaction to economic turmoil is to shorten hems, brighten colours and glam things up. In other words, bury your immaculately coiffed head in the bronzing powder. We may be coming out of the other side now, but fashion isn’t ready to tone things down – and proof came in the form of all the smalls making it big on the Paris catwalks this week.
John Galliano showed Forties-style sheer chiffon panelling, negligée slips and corsetry, while Jean Paul Gaultier also revisited retro undies with bra-cups on dresses and suspender belts fixed to pencil skirts.
Meanwhile, Balmain and Balenciaga noted the importance of showing a bit of skin with cutaway dresses and futuristic sportswear, and Rick Owens went a step further by showing oversized ‘bushes’ – yes, you heard right – attached to the fronts of skirts and dresses. Of course, you can always rely on Lindsay Lohan to misunderstand a trend. Flown in a month ago as the artistic director at Emanuel Ungaro, Lohan’s collection for the French house saw models skipping the underwear-as-outerwear trend altogether, going straight for glittery nipple pasties. Perhaps it’s practical fashion rather than an economic statement: don’t just dress provocatively during hard times because designers tell you to, stick on the tassels and get some extra cash down the local burlesque club. A nice little earner that’ll help sub your must-have Rick Owens bush next season. Harriet Walker
The controversial appointment of Will Gompertz as the BBC’s new face (and voice) of the arts poses a number of thorny questions.
For instance: is it right that someone with no broadcast experience should be parachuted into such a high-profile role, over the heads of other, well-qualified Beebers?
Is the reported £150,000 salary that comes with this piece of cultural turf really justified, when so many Britons are tightening their belts and seeing their pay frozen?
And exactly how big a statement does a pair of spectacles need to make before it becomes its wearer’s personal manifesto?
True, Gompertz has some way to go before he outglasses the undisputed King of the Four-Eyes, Lord Maurice Saatchi, but he’ll be giving his soon-to-be colleague, the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson – no slouch in the facial furniture department – a run for his money.
Gompertz’ ocular flamboyance may mark him out in the world at large, but among the metropolitan media elite, big, black, vaguely retro frames are practically mandatory; When he set up his TV production firm, Chris Evans used his trademark big black specs as, well, his trademark. And as any visitor to the offices of an ad agency, website, glossy magazine or, indeed, national newspaper can attest, the eyes really do have it. Adam Leigh