I’m doing what my friend Clare disproves of which is watching something decent (the film Vice) while faffing about on my laptop so am going to be brief. HERE is link to my Evening Standard column from last week which enraged various e-scooter obsessives. Was accused on Twitter of being opposed to ‘fun’ and ‘progress’ which isn’t remotely true. I’m just sad that a 30-year-old woman has been killed on one in London. There is a reason they’ve been taken off the roads in Basel and Zurich and comparisons to bicycles are asinine since the numbers don’t correlate.
HERE is a link to a podcast I did with the pulsating young tech company Soda Says in which I fail most of the questions and bang on about my Fitbit.
And below is my Tel column from last weekend.
Now I’m going to finish this film (worth watching for Steve Carell alone) and go to bed before 10pm on a Saturday. Not into fun indeed. Ha! What a load of nonsense.
There was a tiny news item in the papers this week that you might have missed, what with the cricket and the Michael dramas on Love Island. An idea has been proposed by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission that ‘youngsters’ should spend their gap years working on British farms instead of gallivanting around Thailand getting tattoos. Ha ha, only joking, the small paragraph didn’t say the bit about Thailand. But the commission has recommended the farm thing – a ‘new land army’ to ‘help the environment and give people brought up in towns a taste of rural life’.
Since it’s July and school’s out, you might have a teenager about to embark on their gap year. Or know of one. If they’re anything like me and my mates, there will be a vague plan to work for a few months to save some cash, then buy a big rucksack, or pinch an older sibling’s, and head east to Asia or west to South America for what you, as a parent, hope will be a safe and broadening travel experience.
I went east to Asia, smoked opium in Laos, hung out with a bunch of Australian plumbers in Cambodia, got my foot tattooed on a Thai island and had to help a friend who will remain anonymous track down the morning-after-pill in India after her adventures with a tailor’s son in Udaipur. Broadening in some senses, but Christopher Columbus almost certainly came home more enlightened.
Which is why I’m all for this land army. It solves several problems in one fell swoop – it reconnects the next generation with the land, it ensures a plentiful supply of potatoes. It means that more of us might understand that a rasher comes from a pig instead of a magical bacon factory and prevents 18-year-olds from making poor decisions in Bangkok. Should we run out of clean drinking water, as Boris prophesied last week, then this sprightly young army could doubtless sort that out too. We’re not talking national service. The commission has promised these rural stakhanovites won’t be given ‘menial tasks’ so I expect it’ll be more animal husbandry than digging up turnips. Does one dig for turnips? Or do they fall from a tree? See, if only I’d been farming instead of canoodling with Jason the plumber all those years ago.
I’ve been told more than once that I would have made a good land army girl, actually, a long-running joke while I worked at Tatler. It conjures up an image of a robust, hearty woman with sensible hair wearing breeches with a spade thrown jauntily over her shoulder. Work-horses, in other words, who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves for a spot of lambing or milking. I always took it as a compliment because I fell in love with Angela Huth’s book Land Girls as a schoolgirl. The camaraderie! The country air! The overalls!
Also, think of the romances. I don’t want to detract from the important work that 80,000 women were doing at the time but I would have been well up for the dances on the weekends. It’s how my grandmother met my grandfather, as it happens. She was a land girl based in Yorkshire and one day dispatched to the local officers for pigswill. She turned up for slops and met Grandpa. Dare I say it, a much more suitable match than mine with my friend from Melbourne.
Apparently Pippa Middleton wore multiple pairs of sunglasses worth over £700 on consecutive days at Wimbledon. It seems extravagant but I understand her problem because I suffer the same. Presumably, no sooner has Pippa bought a new pair then she puts them down and loses them, or leaves them at a friend’s house, or sits on them, or lets them roll around the bottom of her handbag with loose coppers and keys so the lenses scratch. I have long banned myself from expensive sunglasses because I seem to be constantly attempting some sort of world record in the speed with which I lose them, but I’ve still got through three (very cheap) pairs this summer alone. How are Pippa and I to solve our plight? We’re too young for beaded sunglasses straps, surely?
Talking of high fashion, where do we stand on Birkenstocks? Because not so long ago I assumed they were the sort of thing that the man in Holland & Barrett wore, but now celebrities are wandering about in them and, according to one fashion editor, this summer we should all be wearing a £340 pair by Valentino. The American designer Rick Owens has even suggested they are ‘the sexiest shoe ever’ which makes me question the status of Mr Owens’ driving license and whether he should still be on the road. They are, says the fashion editor, ‘the world’s most comfortable shoe’, but I can’t shake the feeling that if you’re wearing a pair, you should also be reasonably hairy and a strong advocate of oat milk.