Victoria Summerley: An everyday tale of disgruntled countryfolk

Comment

Share
Related Topics

There is a new class struggle in Britain today. Never mind working man and landed toff, or the mutual distrust of socialist and socialite. It is rus versus urbe.

Victims of this divide are epitomised by two women, one real, one fictional. The first is Liz Jones, the columnist who has upset the West Country with, among many things, her uncharitable description of countryfolk as toothless oiks.

The second is Vicky, newcomer to Ambridge in the The Archers, who riles everyone with her insensitivity and deplorable taste in sequins.

Whereas Jones has moaned about the countryside since alighting on Exmoor, Vicky is determined to make friends, join in and become, if not a pillar, at least a rustic pergola in the community. Yet both are the focus of local dislike.

Moving to the country is fraught with pitfalls. In the city one's landscape changes almost daily thanks to building works, and neighbours come and go with astonishing regularity. If you want to escape people, you hop on a bus or train and find a coffee shop in another part of town.

In the country, the bus comes a few times a week and the train was probably axed in the Sixties by Beeching. The landscape changes with the seasons and people tend not to move house so much. Once a social schism arises, there is, to be literal, no getting away from it.

The consequences are drearily predictable: allegations of ignorant townies trying to impose their views; second-home owners buying up all the available housing stock.

We urban types are to blame for much of this. We see the country as a verdant Disneyland, full of lambs, daisy-strewn meadows and thatched cottages. We think life in the country is like Country Life.

We fail to see that it is a serious business, involving muddy tractors, cockerels, sileage and pig farms. There isn't much room for sentiment, be it Vicky's nauseating references to "moo-cows", or Jones feeding organic muesli to the rats.

Jones, of course, has made her life's work the creation of dosh out of discontent. There is another side to it, however. I bet a lot of that dosh goes to the local community in one way or another. Likewise, Vicky has put capital into new husband Mike's dairy venture. While incoming people are vilified, incoming money never seems to be acknowledged.

You don't hear from the previous owners of all those second homes, who doubtless made a tidy profit on their shambolic barns and farmhouses. No, it would spoil the image of the rural man or woman as someone who battles the elements to make a living from the land, someone who is at one with nature – until they get out the pesticide.

It's not just townies who have a romantic view of the countryside.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories