Editor's Comment December 2015
PUBLISHED: 11:59 29 November 2015 | UPDATED: 12:01 29 November 2015
Editor Mike Lowe on the Disneyfication of the Cotswolds
I HAVE long railed against the national media’s unthinking depiction of the Cotswolds as some kind of honey-coloured Disneyland where everyone is a millionaire living behind electric gates who shops at Daylesford, eats roast peacock and wears red cords. Another particular bug-bear is the constant references to an imaginary Royal Triangle, where every house or village has to be defined by its proximity to “Prince Charles’s country estate”, the worst example of which was a pub in Chipping Sodbury being described as “close to Highgrove”.
(Yes, I admit that I sometimes dabble in stereotypes, but it’s my patch and I’m allowed.)
The real problem with this newsprint pigeon-holing is that it’s boring, untrue and unfair. Gloucestershire is so much more than just gin and gilets. We are real people doing real jobs, a point the excellent Rock the Cotswolds campaign has been making so well for the past couple of years.
And there is no prospect of this ‘Cotswoldisation’ disappearing if rumours about our latest arrivals are true. The Beckhams, for it is them, have been seen in a fish and chip shop in Stow-on-the-Wold, a sweet shop in Minchinhampton, have visited various schools in the area and have sparked plenty of daft speculation in the national newspapers about which multi-million pound country estate they might be buying.
Lined up amongst the guilty parties this time around was Country Life magazine, usually a reasonably sensible publication, which waded in with the usual, predictable, supposedly amusing nonsense on how to fit in around these parts.
“Drive to Daylesford immediately. You need to be on the Bamfords’ A-list,” they said. No you don’t. And you need a second mortgage if you do.
“Get invited to the gardens at Highgrove. Ask to see the Prince’s grotto.” You don’t have to be invited. You can pay to get in.
“Drive a black Range Rover. But get a personalised number or you’ll never find it in the car park after Cheltenham races.” Look, no-one in their right mind drives themselves to Cheltenham races. Personally, I only go by helicopter.
“Don’t be surprised to see Elizabeth Hurley everywhere.” You’ll be lucky. She moved to Herefordshire ages ago.
And that hoary old favourite: “Don’t wear red trousers in your first year. It’s a slow initiation process.” Oh do give it a rest...
What does it matter? Well it matters because the Cotswolds is home to a thriving, innovative, inventive bunch of creative people. Portraying us to the rest of the country, and to the rest of the world, as some kind of retirement home patronised by millionaires down from London and populated by indigenous, horny-handed, straw-sucking muck-spreaders does the vital business community in the region no favours whatsoever. It is time for the national press to grow up.
WE ALL have our favourite cities around the world. Mine are Manchester (of course), Chicago, Madrid... and Paris. Given the recent terrible events in that wonderful place, it is difficult to wish anyone a Merry Christmas. However, I do hope that people are able to take some emotional comfort from the festive season – and that also goes for all of our readers, abroad and here at home.
WHILE it pales by comparison, this has also been a sad year for Costwold Life. In Mark Child, June Lewis and Mike Charity, we have lost three long-serving and much-valued contributors. Our thoughts are with their families and friends at this difficult time.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @cotslifeeditor