Dom Joly: You’re not from round here...
PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 October 2014
It’s not that I think I behave badly. It’s just a question of having to learn about all the things that might annoy a local and then doing your best not to overstep the mark
Ex ‘townies’ are always worried about fitting into the country way of life. I think I’ve seen too many films in which loud-mouthed city folk wander into country pubs where everything goes quiet save for the gentle cocking of a shotgun.
It’s a rare morning in my life when I don’t peek out of the window just to check that there isn’t a large mob of locals approaching my place brandishing pitchforks and a badger’s head on a pole.
It’s not that I think I behave that badly. It’s just a question of having to learn about all the things that might annoy a local and then do your best not to overstep the mark. I already have a nemesis. The green-haired, lesbian lady seems to very much object to almost everything I do and often drives by on a tractor hurling abuse at me for something I did to offend her. I keep my counsel and don’t inflame events by commenting on her brave choice in tight vests or her refusal to wear a bra. Most of the time I just have to concentrate very hard to understand exactly what it is I’ve done to annoy her.
One morning I was in my back field when I heard the machinations of her tractor approaching. I dived for cover but it was too late, and she let off a volley of invective. I managed to pick out certain words - “plant food… bastard… ticks…” but I was none the wiser. I sought out my friendly contact in the village and asked him to explain what it was I might have done this time? After some inquiries she came back to tell me that the green-haired lesbian was angry with me for “looking at her in a funny way.” To be honest, it would be pretty difficult not to look at her in a funny way, but I resolved to avoid any future eye contact to avoid misunderstandings.
In my last Cotswold home I had similar problems. A man who worked in the village tended to read a lot of my online output and I would never be able to tell what mood he would be in with me. One day he’d be all smiles and charm and enthusing about life – the next he would be wearing big dark glasses and totally ignore me because of something that I had tweeted the night before after a couple of sherberts. Admittedly some of my tweets are particularly forthright, but when you are conversing with pond life like Donald Trump one needs to be. I kept trying to tell this individual that it might be best if he simply didn’t follow me but it fell on deaf ears. This wouldn’t have troubled me much if the fellow in question wasn’t so keen on wandering around sporting a large chainsaw.
But it’s not just a Cotswold problem. I write this from the Northern wilds of Canada where I am currently living on an idyllic lake save for the compound next to me that appears to be inhabited by the cast of Deliverance. One morning I went for a swim and decided to walk back to the cottage. This meant wandering through the Deliverance grounds while dressed only in swim shorts. I thought it best to not go straight past the house, so I started hacking my way through the thick undergrowth that backed onto their place. I was about halfway through and bleeding pretty profusely from multifarious cuts when out stepped one of my neighbours. He was holding an axe and I could almost hear him saying: “You’ve got a real pretty mouth piggy, I’m going to make you squeal like a pig…”
I said something like “You’ll never take me alive redneck!” or maybe it was “Please don’t hurt me, I have money!” I can’t remember which.
Whatever, it was all a misunderstanding. The axe man didn’t want my buttocks but was just concerned that I was wandering around an area populated by bears dressed only in shorts and blood. I returned to my cottage chastened and vowed to make a bigger effort back home to bond with potentially angry natives. Canada is a bit like that – it makes you a better person.
This article by Dom Joly is from the October 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.
For more from Dom, follow him on Twitter: @domjoly