There’s more to than just a rip­pling torso

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Column -

There are many things that can make me a happy man on a Sun­day: be­ing sur­rounded by grand­chil­dren; pot­ter­ing in the gar­den to the sound of church bells; shar­ing a roast with good friends; and a pe­riod drama to watch in the evening. Ah, Poldark! Where have you been for the past 40 years? Yes; that’s how long it is since Robin El­lis clasped Ang­harad Rees to his manly chest. ’Twas back in 1975 that Corn­wall was dis­cov­ered by the masses, and judg­ing by the good for­tune the cur­rent pro­duc­ers had with the weather, ’twill be an­other good sum­mer for Ker­now. My apolo­gies for laps­ing into 18th-cen­tury lingo. You see, I am not one of those who watch the likes of Down­ton Abbey with pen­cil and pad in hand, ready to jot down the mo­ment that a tele­vi­sion aerial comes into view, and nei­ther am I a stick­ler for di­alect. The Cor­nish ac­cent used by the cast of the 2015 Poldark will do me nicely, thank you very much. They don’t mum­ble, they speak clearly, and I am quite sure that many of the Caus­ing a stir: Ai­dan Turner as the dash­ing Ross Poldark in the new BBC se­ries in­hab­i­tants of our far­thest penin­sula did in­deed say “Oh, aaar” quite a lot back then. Come to think of it, some of them do now. I sup­pose if I do take is­sue with any­thing then it is Ai­dan Turner’s physique. Hav­ing been a man­ual labourer (well, man­ual ap­pren­tice and stu­dent) for the first eight years of my work­ing life, I never de­vel­oped abs and quads and pecs quite like his. Ac­tu­ally, I am still not sure where they are or what they are meant to do, ex­cept make the ladies gasp. My youth­ful body was not so much sculpted as gan­gling, un­like Ai­dan’s – sorry, Ross Poldark’s. But I doubt that 18th-cen­tury Cor­nish landown­ers had ac­cess to run­ning and row­ing ma­chines and weights. Yet I must not cavil. If Mr Turner’s torso gives Mrs T and oth­ers a fris­son, then who am I to mut­ter darkly into my Cor­nish pasty? I man­age to visit Corn­wall ev­ery cou­ple of years, trav­el­ling to Pen­with (the north­ern arm of the penin­sula, as op­posed to The Lizard, which is the south­ern­most point). Next to my na­tive York­shire and my adopted county of Hamp­shire it re­mains a favourite part of Bri­tain. Why? Mainly for its coast­line. Parts of in­land Corn­wall are dull and bleak. I say that as an ob­ser­va­tion, not a crit­i­cism. The York­shire Moors, too, are bleak, and so I would not den­i­grate those who find such bleak­ness com­pelling. But the coast­line of Corn­wall is a thing of un­sur­passed rugged beauty, es­pe­cially in May, when I most fre­quently visit. Then the clifftops are awash with the pink drum­sticks of thrift and a rug of bright yel­low vetches. There are gul­leys pep­pered with fox­glove spires, and clear streams tum­bling into the turquoise sea be­low. Seals pop up their heads in wel­com­ing bays, and there are sandy beaches: small, quiet ones as well as the larger and more pop­u­lous Newquays of this world. I can walk the South West Coastal Path and lose my­self for hours in my imag­i­na­tion, and now that it has been re­freshed by Sun­day night view­ing, this year’s visit will be all the more wel­come. I don’t have many am­bi­tions left in life, but I would quite like to ride a horse along that strip of coast­line and take a look at the War­leg­gan man­sion. Who lives there now, I won­der? And did they re­ally put a new roof on that hith­erto ru­ined tin mine or was it (as I sus­pect) made of tim­ber and plas­tic and re­moved when the film crew left? All ques­tions that are re­ally of lit­tle con­se­quence in the great scheme of things, and yet they come as a re­sult of Sun­day evenings spent in fine com­pany – that of Corn­wall and a cast of char­ac­ters I am de­lighted to en­counter once more.

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