Richard Lutz enjoys light comedy in a dark world.
And away we go. It’s really the first day of winter in the North Cotwolds. Sharp light, low on the horizon, follows us through quiet bijoux villages, clean, suburbia in the countryside, obviously wealthy and pretty darn happy with themselves.
Where do the blue collar families, the army of the employed, actually live if your nearest market town is upscale Chipping Norton or Chipping Campden? If your neighbour’s home was sold for £1 million? If you can’t afford to live in a small village that housed your kin for the past 100 years? Or if you’re too poor to have a car? Or two?
I don’t know. But we soon find out how the rich live. When we walk north past the picturesque hamlet of Ebrington and up the valley we suddenly arrive at a huge country house. It’s picture perfect, ready for a Hugh Grant romcom. A grand Galsworthy epic. The farmland is immaculate, the hedges briskly trimmed, the 18th century mansion brimming with wealth and confidence. Gardens roll south interspersed with with natural pools, sylvan glades and farm acreage stocked with birds for shooting.
We sit under a massive oak tree for a break as the winter sun hits the highest in the sky today. Google immediately tells us that the country pile is owned by a billionaire magnate who has made his name in the lingerie trade. He is high end High Street, his shops in every mall and city shopping parade.
This is what wealth, real wealth, will buy.
In Ebrington itself, we poke our heads into its church, the magnificently named St Eadburga. There’s a monumental stone effigy of a heavyweight figure from the late 1470’s. He was a powerhouse on the monarchial stage, the Lord Chief Justice of his times. His tomb lies perfect, his reputation and influence, I would guess, only known now to a handful of late medieval students or obsessives. Maybe I’m one of the latter.
The Cotswolds, the big country estate, the quiet church, the ripple of the Cotswolds are a thousand leagues from the world we live in. Where to start? For one, President Trump has loosened his mental anchor from the shore of reason and bases his whole political thrust on hate and fear.
Hate for anyone that doesn’t share his delusional vision. Fear of the army of poor snaking their way to the barbed wire of Texas. “Barbed wire. Have you ever seen such a beautiful thing?” he asks a slobbering crowd. The quicker he lies headfirst in the dungheap of history, the better. And without the benefit of a big stone tomb.
After the walk, it’s back to a weekend of total slobbishness. I watch TV. I always shy away from the dark, mournful, heavy, heavy drama that is wrapped around crime stories, detective tales, spy stories. They simply bore me – or possibly I’m too thick to get my head around the sinuous plots, the angsty high anxiety or the long drawn out subplots that never really come together.
TV to me means light stuff. Light stuff to keep out the dark. Dad’s Army is about the best. It must be about 550 years old by now, displaying its creaking comic bones on the BBC2 weekend repeatathon. For those not in the know, it’s a great display of the old fashioned British class system in a story about how a bumbling inoffensive platoon of pensioners sign up to protect coastal England from the German hordes during World War 2.
It’s a great escape into comedy and the past. Of course, the old boys mess it up every time but somehow keep their doddery heads above water. Kind of like Britain. Kind of like me.