Editor's comment: February 2020
PUBLISHED: 13:03 03 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:03 03 February 2020
'It is true to say that the Cotswolds brand, while a hugely attractive marketing asset, also leaves us open to ill-informed stereotyping from those who have formed an image without ever visiting our region'
It is true to say that the Cotswolds brand, while a hugely attractive marketing asset, also leaves us open to ill-informed stereotyping from those who have formed an image without ever visiting our region. Hence, anywhere within 50 miles of Tetbury is always "close to Prince Charles's Highgrove Estate" and why Chipping Norton was recently described by the Daily Mirror as a "swanky village". Well, splendid though it is, Chipping Norton is not "swanky" and it is not a village. I blame Cameron and Clarkson, Daylesford and Soho House.
Amusing though this is, such preconceptions can also be dangerous. Pity the poor Lake District, subject to a review by the National Parks Authority which concludes that the area is seen as an "exclusive, mainly white, mainly middle-class club, with rules only members understand and much too little done to encourage first-time visitors". This is a bit rich coming, as it does, from the pen of Julian Glover, associate editor of the London Evening Standard and former chief speechwriter for David Cameron.
Chief executive Richard Leafe says: "We are deficient in terms of young people, we are deficient in terms of black and minority ethnic communities and we are not particularly well-visited by those who are less able in terms of their mobility. Well, we would be, wouldn't we? It's not easy pushing a wheelchair up Scafell Pike. (It should be noted that here, in the Cotswolds, huge efforts have been made to provide rural rambling for the disabled. Winchcombe is one location that immediately springs to mind.)
So, what do we do to improve "accessibility"? Mr Leafe has already introduced trails for 4x4 vehicles (delightful) and now wants to spend £8 million on a nine-mile tarmac pathway around Keswick so that visitors don't get their feet muddy on the way past the Derwent Pencil Museum. What else? Perhaps we could flatten out a few hills so that they are not so vertically challenging, and build a few escalators for the terminally lazy. The redundant stone could be used to raise the water level of some lakes to paddling pool depth. And then we could heat them.
Or we could do the sensible thing - nothing. And tell the metropolitan meddlers to bugger off back to London instead of trying to impose their liberal nonsense and blatant social engineering on the dreaded white middle-classes. Cotswolds beware. Unless we fight off these unwanted forces of fiddling now, it'll be us next.
I'VE always been a bit puzzled by the trend to have guest editors on single issues of magazines. I mean, what do they really contribute? It's fine to come floating in with some airy-fairy ideas which some poor journalist then has to turn into something workable, but unless they're still at their keyboards at midnight, checking the names of obscure breeds of sheep or whether or not there's an apostrophe in King's Stanley, then they're not actually "editing" are they?
I ask because a chap called Stormzy (some kind of variety performer, I believe) was recently handed this one-off role on the Guardian's Weekend supplement. His most interesting contribution was to go for lunch at his favourite café with food critic Jay Rayner, but it was all a bit of a yawnfest.
Now I can understand the Prince of Wales taking over the reins of Country Life now and again. Rural affairs clearly matter a great deal to him and what he has to say on the subject is always worth a read, but I can't have been the only listener irritated by Radio 4's Today programme giving editorial control to professional moaners - sorry, guest editors - over the holiday period. If I'd wanted to have a teenager wittering in my ear over the porridge I'd still be in my first marriage.
But ever one to jump on a passing bandwagon, I've decided that the next issue of Cotswold Life will be guest-edited by the force of nature that is Hyacinth Bucket. So, stand by for features such as 'Fish Knives: Their role in modern society'; 'The 10 best disguises for shopping at Lidl'; 'Antimacassars and doilies - a beginner's guide'; 'Shop-bought gravy - for the many, not the jus'; and 'Why is conjugal engagement so messy?' (Oh, do put that away, Richard).