Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Let them eat Boden

Americans have Obama, we have these two

I have a piece in the Guardian today about Rachel Johnson's slimmish paperback, Shire Hell. New readers start here.

Rachel Johnson is a Yummy Mummy, sex columnist on Easy Living magazine and sister of the more famous Boris- blond, tousle-haired mayor of London since he defeated newt-loving Red Ken Livingstone in May.

Rachel lives in Notting Hill along with her neighbours Elle McPherson, Richard Curtis and Esther Freud etc, about which she wrote a novel, Notting Hell, satirising life amongst the gadzillionares.

Now she has written another, about Dorset, where she has a country place, and if you want to know who are our coming political masters when Old Etonian David Cameron finally ejects Gordon Brown from No 10, this is the place to start.

The intersection of the worlds of Notting Hill and the countryside are brilliantly illustrated by an incident that took place at last year's gala dinner hosted by Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue, to launch the Golden Age of Couture show at the V&A. On being introduced to Kate Moss, Cameron commiserated with her for the summer flooding that had washed out her Cotswold village, which is in his constituency, and spoke knowledgeably of when the local pub might reopen. Impressed, Moss asked for his phone number. Returning to his table, Cameron proudly announced that he was expecting a call from Moss; unfortunately it was because she thought he was a plumber.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Ain't these posh public school graduates supposed to be able to tie their ties with more flair? I mean there are some limits even for me...

greying pixie said...

Really loved reading your article, Linda, but my political beliefs (and lack of time) just won't allow me to read the actual book. None of the people you mention hold any fascination with me at all, and I just couldn't help curling my lip not only at the set she is referring to, but all the wannabes who will read it - what I call (in my inverted snobbery) the 'cheap public school set'.

Regarding Agas, when we sold our litter of pedigree puppies last year we had to interview the prospective owners. In my socialist citybred innocence I was surprised at how quickly the word Aga came into the conversation as if to own one would be give me a good enough impression of the family into which I would be allowing my puppies to go.

I do wonder if Britain will ever ever be a modern shaped country - not until a few world wars have swept through us I suppose. Then perhaps we will be rid of this ridiculous obsession with class.

Linda Grant said...

I really enjoyed the book. In fact it was me urging it on the Guardian features editor that caused the piece to be commissioned by her

gp said...

I wish the features editor could see her way to offering you Hadley Freeman's column!

60 Going On 16 said...

I fled Notting Hill, where I'd lived for most of my adult life, when the likes of RJ and her contemporaries ie the ones she happily satirises appeared to be taking over. You could barely walk down Westbourne Grove without bumping into some celebrity or merchant banker's wife or other falling out of a taxi clutching a dozen designer carrier bags. They came, they saw, they pushed up the property prices. The children of families who had lived in the area for generations could no longer afford to buy a home there - or even rent one. And they still can't. Property prices remain sky-high and, despite what she says, there's not much evidence of thrift on the fashionable streets of W11.

Then these wretched people did the same to the South West and, as I've lived on the edge of Exmoor for a good many years now, I know whereof I speak. Their way of life bears no resemblance to that of the majority of those on their doorstep, whether that doorstep is in Notting Hill (which is ringed by vast council estates) or here in the rural South West, where poverty and deprivation reside, albeit often hidden and therefore unnoticed. The majority of people on Exmoor couldn't afford or take the time off work (three days a week in the season) to go hunting - even if they wanted to - but most people don't want to. They've just learned to keep quiet about it as it's still a pretty feudal society down here. As for asserting that everyone in the countryside spends their time shagging, riding, drinking, or all three, I can only suggest that La Johnson should get out more or widen her circle of rural acquaintances.

I wish I could agree with you about Shire Hell but to me it's simply a rehash of all her tedious Sunday Times columns, dressed up in a fictional frock. She's a pretty average sort of writer who just happens to be well connected and who has found a money-spinning formula in which everything and everyone she knows is fair game. She's running with it and, in a way, who can blame her? After all maintaining a house in Notting Hill and another on Exmoor is a frightfully expensive business these days. As for the colour of her coat, just ask the locals. They'll tell you that there is not the slightest shade of pink about it . . .

Sorry, long comment but feel much better now.

Linda Grant said...

Cripes! Thanks for that.

Susanna said...


Sadly, this kind of gentrification-on-steroids is happening in every major city. And their suburbs too. One wonders where the average, comfortably-off person will live in ten year's time, let alone those not so fortunate.