CONNECTICUT DAYS : Sticking up for life in stuck-up suburbia

Bill is a Master of the Universe, that strain of humankind described by Tom Wolfe in The Bonfire of the Vanities that has evolved for one purpose only: to make mega-bucks on Wall Street. He catches the 5.57am each morning and returns home at around 10pm. That is the way it has to be, he says, because he is "waging a war" in Manhattan every day. A war for millions.

We are at a gathering of the "Greenwich Newcomers Club" and I am beginning to wonder whether Bill, with his suspiciously stretched features and disarming candour, is a plant - hired by our friends back in Washington who had pleaded with us so passionately not to move here. "Live where you like when you go to New York, but at all costs don't go to Greenwich," they said when we first announced we were leaving. "It is where the Republicans live."

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that this is where we would end up. Not only are we here but, after some hesitation, we have even succumbed to the Newcomers Club. (Thirty dollars for the evening, bring your own grilled-crab hors d'oeuvre). My wife has been approached by another group calling itself "Daughters of the Empire". It seems it is not done to live in Greenwich, be British and not be a Daughter. Judy, though, is demurring.

It is all rather embarrassing. I wish people in New York would not keep asking the inevitable question: where are you living? I want to say, "We found this wonderful loft in SoHo," but have to confess to renting in Greenwich. No, not the Village, but Connecticut - from where I must make the 30-mile commute along the north shore of Long Island Sound. Then I get that withering look. Not only are you in suburbia, but you're in stuck-up suburbia.

If you wondered if America can manage to be stuck up, come and experience Greenwich. I would suggest dropping by Hay Day, a modest food store on the Post Road that by accident we wandered into on our first day. Two things before we even got in the door: instead of the usual metal carts outside, there was only a pile of wicker baskets. I assumed they were for sale, until Judy realised they were for putting the food in. Next to the baskets was firewood: little bundles with eight logs each, all perfect rounds of silver birch, bark unscratched, tied together with red ribbons. For burning.

From Hay Day, you might visit one of the very chic little coffee shops in Old Greenwich, where the Mistresses of the Universe - ("We live in Greenwich so we can dump the wives here. They love it." That's Bill speaking again) - seem to reside with their beloved little ones in tartan and velvet. Or just order a home- delivery pizza. Our pizza man drives a new Volvo.

Or take a spin in the "back-country" - the inland areas of Greenwich where the really big houses are. It is not just the Englishman who likes his castle. Here are castles, and mansions and palaces (even one ludicrous mock-White House with fountains spurting forth from the snowdrifts) spread about on 10-acre lots in rolling countryside. Residents include Diana Ross and Victor Borge. Michael Jackson is said to be castle-hunting.

Finally there are the beaches. Two are on an island in the middle of the Sound and another on Greenwich Point, a peninsula of parkland with a dazzling view of Manhattan, its skyscrapers seemingly floating on the ocean's meniscus. As you would expect, though, these are facilities strictly for Greenwich residents. A watch-tower guards the entrance to Greenwich Point, from where guards can machine-gun intruders and lost Democrats.

There was a profile in the New York Times recently of one local woman who has dealt with the stigma of being a Greenwich resident by launching a career as a stand-up comedian and drawing on the town and its folk for her material. "Better peel off your Clinton-Gore bumper stickers before you come to Greenwich, or your car will be pelted with Martinis." That kind of thing.

I think we will survive the opprobrium. Greenwich, in the end, was where we found a house we liked, where police cars don't bark orders at you in the street (they do in Manhattan) and where the schools are excellent and free.

Bet all our friends in lofts will be wanting to come and visit in the summer when it is hot. We are allowed seven guests on the beach every day.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind"

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album