Camberwell comedian Jenny Eclair contemplates a move to the country…
One of the bonuses of being in my line of work is that you get to explore the highways and byways of Great Britain, including the leafy green thatched roof bits. It doesn’t take much more than a sunny day in June to get you fantasising about what it would be like to live in the country.
For some reason this rural idyll always arrives neatly packaged with hens, Agas and ponies. I can easily imagine myself living the wellington-boot lifestyle, but the truth is I’m imagining another kind of me: the sort of woman who can make a quiche without looking at a recipe, a woman who yomps cheerfully for miles with a dog, a woman who can sail and possibly has her own wetsuit, a cheerful outdoorsy type who isn’t scared of loud barking and the terrifying size of a fully grown horse’s head!
I’ve had friends who have moved out to the seaside or to rural villages. Londoners who got bored of the daily battle with transport and house prices and schools and dirt and decided to clean their lungs and live in places where you can leave your bicycle outside a post office for more than two minutes without it getting nicked.
As for ‘yomping’ cheerfully anywhere, the reality would be sulking indoors and getting hysterical about not being able to get Wi-Fi
Socially they seem to have a great time – they have loads of mates and meet up regularly in the local pub (unlike most Londoners who save money by drinking at home), they summer-time swim in freshwater lakes rather than swallowing back the chlorine/urine combo of the public swimming pool, they have parties with bunting in village halls and, come autumn, they smell of bonfire smoke and have perennial roses on their cheeks.
So why don’t I go? The Old Man has a secret Cornwall craving (his dream is of a crashing sea view) and there is nothing that ties me to London – I wasn’t born here, I can write anywhere and gig from anywhere. But in the same way I know I’ll never make a quiche without looking at a recipe book, I know deep down that I will never live in the country. I know that after a few weeks of leaving my bike outside the post office, the novelty of it not being nicked would wear off, and as for ‘yomping’ cheerfully anywhere, the reality would be sulking indoors and getting hysterical about not being able to get Wi-Fi.
The fact is that when I’ve been out of town for more than a week, I miss London; I miss hearing a world of accents on the bus, I miss Peter Jones, and the fact that London is the cultural epicentre of the world. But it’s more than that, it’s not just about the art and the theatre and the ‘proper’ shops – my relationship with London cuts deeper than Liberty’s, the Tate Modern and The Royal Court. While London infuriates me with her stinky expense and her heartless bustle, the truth is, when one is still pleased to see the Walworth Road, one really isn’t ready to leave!