Victoria Summerley: An everyday tale of disgruntled countryfolk


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

Recruitment Genius: Linux Systems Administrator

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Systems Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre Scho...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£17900 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic Marketing Assis...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, arrives with his son Prince George at the Lindo Wing to visit his wife and newborn daughter at St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, Britain, 02 May 2015  

Prince George's £18,000 birthday gift speaks volumes about Britain's widening wealth inequality

Olivia Acland
Nicky Clarke has criticised the Duchess of Cambridge for having grey hair  

Letting one’s hair turn grey would be the most subversive Royal act

Rosie Millard
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'