Alex James: Cows are cooler than aeroplanes

Rural Notebook
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The Independent Online

It's probably cheaper to own an aeroplane than a cow: especially at the moment. For the first time in ages I spoke to Dave Rowntree, Blur's drummer, on Friday. We were supposed to be getting together for a bridge bender last week, a couple of days in a hotel, but I had to cancel. He told me he'd just sold the aeroplane we used to share. I thought he might be a bit down about it, but he was quite jubilant, quoted a well-known pilots' adage: "The two best days of owning an aeroplane are the day you buy it and the day you sell it," he said.

Still, never mind all those cheap Rolls Royces and tempting rates at Claridge's. Right now, for fifty grand you can pick up a Beech Baron, the ultimate light aircraft. They cost over half a million last time I looked. A Baron is the nearest thing you can get to a magic carpet.

But, as I explained to Dave, I never want to go anywhere these days. It's strange to think that the humble pig, once emblematic of the peasantry, has probably become a more fitting aspiration for tastemakers than an aeroplane.

Bryan Ferry told me he'd like a pig. I know Dylan Jones wants one too. Pigs are cooler than Ferraris. But no one has ever told me they'd like a cow, I've never even heard of anyone particularly wanting one, but I've been hankering after a cow for ages.

The field costs next to nothing, sheds are cheap, it's a grand for the cow and a grand for the milking machine, but the real crunch is that you've got to employ someone to milk it, or spend half the day doing it yourself.

So in order to make it worthwhile you really need to get a whole herd. And before you know what's happening you've spent more than an aeroplane costs. A herd of pedigree Gloucesters arrived yesterday. I'm just borrowing them.

Green patches, but no pitch

For five years I've been looking for a cricket pitch in the front field. I know it's there somewhere. The Ordnance Survey confirmed it still existed as late as 1960. I took some aerial photographs a couple of weeks ago, in a borrowed aeroplane (as with cows, the best kind). I've been pouring over them, but all they reveal are a lot of mysterious dark green splodges. Only two things make grass greener. Springs and dead bodies. Probably springs, but I might just check.

Horse sense at last

We've sold Claire's fancy horse at last. The reality of having four children under five is starting to bite and she wasn't riding him.

Got a couple of ex hunters instead. Cost nothing, and cheap to run, apparently. We'll see. People do say it's possible to make a small fortune out of owning horses, but only if you start with a large one.