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Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping Up Appearances


When I moved from London to the country four years ago I swore I would not become a greasy-haired fleece-wearing drone who nipped out to the shop in her slippers.

Back then I didn’t know I was going to buy a house so ancient and cold that I would eventually rip my dead father’s fleece off its hanger with the same appreciation I might once have reserved for a camel coat from Prada. I didn’t know that I would greet a derisable knitted jumper-cape (a cast off from a friend) with the words: “Who’s going to see? Hand it over.’ When we first arrived I used to host Kirstie Allsopp style lunch parties – jam jars of wild flowers, lace table cloths scattered with rose petals, vintage plates, you know the kind of thing. I remember a friend saying: ‘Lovely. Very Country Living. I used to do that too.’ The implication was that she’d grown out it and I must have too – it’s a long time since I sent my children out to pillage the hedgerows for wild flowers. The net-a-porter van has stopped crunching up the drive (the drive has stopped crunching too and gravel now takes priority over J Brands) and the contents of my make up bag are an embarrassment (my 10 year old daughter’s can usually do the trick). Cut to Friday morning when I find myself hoovering the car, removing scented candles from the present drawer and cranking up the central heating in deference to a London friend who has driven down for the day. She turns up in eighty grandsworth of BMW so freakishly shiny it must have come straight from the car showroom. She tosses her black crocodile Anya onto the floor, inhales the True Grace Orangery and says: ‘Lovely. It’s like a home from home.’ We drink Bucks Fizz and eat wild smoked salmon off my grandparents’ plates and revel in the chi-chi-ness of it all. When I suggest a walk at Stourhead, she looks down at her four inch suede Louboutins and says ‘Will it be muddy?’ We settle for an afternoon of fireside banter instead. The visit over and I am back, make–up less in a house that feels refreshingly cool.  In a minute I’ll pop out for the Sunday papers and it’s doubtful whether the Ugg slippers will make it off my feet. Later local friends will arrive for lunch and though the slippers must go, it’s unlikely there will be any make up. I say let vanity be a thing of the past. This Christmas I’m asking for boiler suits for the whole family.  

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