An American documentary show is coming to visit - and I'm planning on having some fun

Once I've shown them the 10ft-wicker man I'll take them into a barn where my wife will be seated in a far corner dressed as a gnome...

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The Independent Online

An American television show is coming to look around my house. Don’t ask me why as I’m still not exactly sure. I think it’s supposed to be a sort of cross between a British version of MTV’s Cribs and “Look how weird the Brits are!”.

I’m in two minds as to how to approach the venture. One way would be to use the opportunity to get everything that we’ve been meaning to get done around the house completed. We could paint that door, fix that fence, change those light bulbs…. We could then invite our American friends into our Cotswold idyll and explain the concept of a boot room, the proper use for wellies, why anything but a black Labrador is illegal in Gloucestershire… but that would be a bit dull.

My plan is to have a little fun. I live on a farm and so have quite a few outbuildings that can be put to whatever weird uses I fancy. So, when the Americans arrive I shall show them the 10ft-wicker man that I have on the hill overlooking the valley.

“We’re having a burning on the Solstice,” I’ll tell them. “Shame you won’t be here as we’ve got a young first-born from the village inside this year. She’ll go up like a Roman Candle…”

Moving on, I will take them into a barn where my wife will be seated in a far corner dressed as a gnome and sitting on a giant toadstool. “She’s been misbehaving recently, broken a couple of cardinal rules, so she’s in the gnome house for a while… she accepts that she’s done wrong.” I can’t wait for the Americans to arrive.

In a way it’s me making up for the Hello! shoot that never happened. Back in the days when Hello! was vaguely interested in running a piece on me and my “lovely family relaxing at home”, we had initial talks. My idea was to rent some hideous house, stock it full of tasteless Louis XIV-style furniture and then introduce the readers to my Chinese wife and black baby. I thought it would be funny – an innocent spoof of the usual Hello! celebrity b******s. I got a letter from the magazine that I kept, telling me that it was a bit “out there” for their publication and politely declining.

When I found out that Salman Rushdie was buying my flat in Notting Hill Gate, I also did some rearranging. This time however, it was more intellectual insecurity as I started to upgrade my pitiful library and ditch some of my Jilly Coopers. I restrained myself from retiling the roof so that next time Google Earth flew over it would read “Salman Rushdie lives here…”; sometimes you’ve got to draw the line.

But I shouldn’t have worried – Rushdie liked my style so much that he bought all my furniture. The next time I saw my flat was when he was doing some TV interview in it. It was very weird – like watching a burglar live-broadcast himself from your home.

Anyhow, must dash.

The Americans will soon be here and I have to get the Dutch barn ready – it’s going to be filled with people dressed as polar bears. 

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