Alexan­dra Shul­man’s Note­book

If you ‘es­cape to the coun­try’ you’ll come run­ning back

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News -

THE news of Harry and Meghan’s planned move into Frogmore Cot­tage at Wind­sor has pro­voked all kinds of de­li­cious ru­mours about du­elling Duchesses at dawn.

A rift be­tween sis­ters-in-law is a crack­ing story but the fact is that, when Wil­liam and Kate first be­came par­ents, they too moved out of Lon­don, to Nor­folk.

In their de­sire to bring their chil­dren up in the coun­try­side, the Royal cou­ples are no dif­fer­ent from count­less other young par­ents who dream of tod­dlers frol­ick­ing among new­born lambs, pet­ting cows and roam­ing the blue­bell woods. Af­ter all, who wouldn’t want to leave a city where the price of a two-bed flat now tops half a mil­lion, for a ru­ral idyll where you can scoop up a four-bed house with gar­den and Aga for much less? Then there are the schools. Com­pe­ti­tion for a place in a good, as op­posed to dire, Lon­don comp is now more in­tense than en­try to Eton. How won­der­ful for one’s child to be a hop, skip and a jump from a small vil­lage school.

But my mes­sage to any­one with a head full of bu­colic fan­tasies is: be care­ful what you wish for. Over my years as Vogue ed­i­tor I saw in­creas­ing num­bers of staff em­bark on a daily twohour com­mute in or­der to pro­vide the child­hood of their – if not their chil­dren’s – dreams. And I watched many of them trudge back, tails be­tween legs a few years later.

City life may be cramped and dirty, ex­pen­sive and stress­ful but they soon found the coun­try­side has its own draw­backs. Yes, they had larger houses, but they missed their friends and found the pool of po­ten­tial new ones daunt­ingly small. Yes, they could walk to the pub but where was the glo­ri­ous ar­ray of ex­otic take­away op­tions for an evening with a box set?

The dank, dark days of win­ter are bad enough in the glare of street light­ing, but they loomed even darker and danker in a cot­tage down a sin­gle track lane.

And of course the chil­dren, far from mak­ing dams in bab­bling brooks and shin­ning up trees, only wanted to sit in­side with an iPad and Xbox.

Even the schools weren’t what they had hoped for. I met up with a friend of mine re­cently who has just em­barked on her own es­cape from Lon­don.

Her small son had got in with a group of ne’er-do-wells at the vil­lage school and was com­ing home ev­ery evening spout­ing re­volt­ing new swear words. Her dilemma was com­pounded by the ter­ri­bly English fact that she was des­per­ate not to ap­pear the mid­dle-class new­bie kick­ing up a fuss and com­plain­ing.

Some­thing tells me this is a prob­lem that Meghan will never have to face.

Wine is bad? That must be fake news

NEW re­search sug­gests that run­ning is more suc­cess­ful at slow­ing down the age­ing process than lift­ing weights. Great news. I’ve al­ways thought that fid­dling around with dumb­bells was a bor­ing waste of time. And I be­lieve ev­ery word of this re­port since run­ning is the only ex­er­cise I take and there­fore it com­pletely en­dorses my be­hav­iour.

How dif­fer­ent to my re­sponse on read­ing, for the umpteenth time, that a sin­gle glass of wine ev­ery day will have the op­po­site ef­fect and most likely con­demn me to mem­ory loss, obe­sity and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dam­age.

That un­wel­come in­for­ma­tion, I in­stantly de­cided, was a per­fect ex­am­ple of fake news.

Theresa’s doomed to fail this screen test

I CAN’T imag­ine why Theresa May would want to go head-to-head with Jeremy Cor­byn on a tele­vised Brexit de­bate. If there’s one thing we know it’s that he’s an ac­com­plished per­former with an ac­tor’s sense of tim­ing and easy man­ner, whereas she comes across as the un­pop­u­lar head­mistress who has can­celled sports day.

And there’s an­other prob­lem. May’s a woman, which means she will au­to­mat­i­cally be harshly judged on ap­pear­ance rather than sub­stance.

Cor­byn just has to make sure he hasn’t got any food in his beard and that his tie isn’t stained. The wrin­kles around his eyes make him look like he has a sense of hu­mour and his ac­cent is en­gag­ingly demo­cratic, no mat­ter what he says.

May, on the other hand, will be judged – and un­for­tu­nately by other women most of all – on how worn-out she looks and how snooty and out-of-touch she sounds. If I were her, I’d steer well clear.

Last Tango taught me so much...

BERNARDO Bertolucci and Ni­co­las Roeg, who both died last month, were ti­tans of the in­de­pen­dent cin­ema and made some of the most con­tro­ver­sial and com­pelling movies of their age.

Bertolucci’s Last Tango In Paris and Roeg’s Bad Tim­ing and Don’t Look Now be­came no­to­ri­ous for their graphic and, at the time, ground-break­ing sex scenes.

In re­cent days, the cre­ative legacy of both men has been scru­ti­nised in the light of #MeToo sex­ual pol­i­tics and their work de­creed ex­ploita­tive and preda­tory. How very wrong. I was a young woman when these films were re­leased and I was fas­ci­nated by them and the re­la­tion­ships be­tween men and women they por­trayed.

They taught me so much about sex: how it can be ob­ses­sive and ad­dic­tive; how sex­ual at­trac­tion is com­pli­cated and messy with ev­er­shift­ing bal­ances of power and con­trol; about the reck­less­ness of de­sire and the thrill of the il­licit.

How much more in­ter­est­ing that all was than to­day’s end­less su­per­hero movies and mind-numb­ingly over­long biopics.

I asked for handy­man – I got a crime­wave

I RE­CENTLY joined a lo­cal news­let­ter where the com­mu­nity can post in­for­ma­tion. In the past few days, I have been alerted to a cat-killing fox, two as­saults on women, three break-ins and a spate of cat­alytic con­verter thefts (why?). My pre­vi­ous ig­no­rance of such neigh­bour­hood hor­rors was def­i­nitely bliss. All I wanted was to find a lo­cal handy­man.

The ques­tion that no man can an­swer

HERE’S a rid­dle I guar­an­tee no man will be able to solve: What’s now non-ne­go­tiable, densely unattrac­tive and starts with B?

ED­U­CA­TIONAL: Maria Sch­nei­der and Mar­lon Brando in Last Tango In Paris

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.