“We are leaving London and moving to Devon so Penny can have a pony and a more rural up bringing” – Every middle class bastard who has ever moved out of London.
I’ve lost count of the amount of people I know who have moved to the country to have a better life for their children. They have this rose tinted view of living in the countryside, bringing their children up on fresh air and organic chicken eggs and being smug about zero air pollution.
They move into a five bedroomed converted barn, kitted out in Habitat, taking the nanny and the Range Rovers and make plans to buy a Golden Retriever called Hugo
That’s not proper rural living.
That’s a middle class, sanitized view of rural living. The sort of rural upbringing where Daddy fucks off to Canary Warf Monday to Friday to bring home the bonus, or where the family home in London has been flogged and an equally nice pile has been bought in the Cotswold’s so the children can still do weekly boarding at the Prep school.
Rural living when you are working class and the only pony you’ve ever owned is the twenty-five pounds your Nan gave you one Christmas is shit.
Especially when you are poor. I mean can’t-get-a-job-and-can’t-afford-to-put-the-heating- on poor. There’s no time for pony rides and nature walks when its dog eat dog and the kids are eating cold baked beans again for tea.
When I was a small child in Cornwall, in a damp, tiny cottage on the edge of Bodmin Moor with mice in the pantry and ice on the inside of the windows, people we’d left behind in London would tell my parents how lucky we were to be living a rural life.
Truth was, my parents had a great time for about a year. Until the money ran out and neither of them could find any work in the area. Growing your own food for a hobby is fun, but when it turns into grow your own food or go hungry, it soon gets monotonous.
My dad always tells me of the huge queues in at the dole office in Thatcher’s 80’s Cornwall and how depressing it was to be lining up for a hand out with other men and women who there were no jobs around for.
When we came back to London to visit family, people still insisted on telling my parents how lucky they were. Once the initial glow had gone and we were spending the evenings huddled under a duvet because the electric had been cut off, my Mum would cry as she looked at the gloriously grotty streets of Hounslow that she once wanted to get away from, with it’s jobs and pavements and wish we were back there.
One of the main reasons we moved to the depths of Cornwall was to get my then 16-year-old sister away from the bad crowd she had fallen in with.
She was skiving school, shop lifting on Oxford Street and smoking anything she could get her hands on.
My Mother genuinely thought that everyone who lived in the countryside was angelic and Enid Blyton esque. She had visions of my sister hanging around with rosy cheeked, God-fearing farm girls who milked cows, sewed dressed and married nice boys.
She soon found out that bored Cornish teenagers, with nothing to do but stare at fields and go from school to the dole queue, were a thousand times worse behaved than their London counterparts, partly through boredom, but mainly through poverty and deprivation which is rife in rural communities.
Within eighteen months of moving to Cornwall, my sister was expelled from school, knocked up by a farm hand and doing coke.
The moral of the story is don’t move to the countryside if you are poor, unless you like to be cold and live off slug infested courgettes.