Cornwall Life columnist Simon Tregoning is still smug living here...

Simon Tregoning catches up with his city-slicker buddies

Still smug living here

Simon Tregoning catches up with his city-slicker buddies

One aspect of my Cornish existence about  which I am not quite so proud is the attack of barely disguised smugness which invariably afflicts me whenever I go to a reunion. There is of course the genuine excitement of getting back together with old friends and reliving the good times. But the mix of emotions is a bit more complex than that. Invading the bonhomie is that little gremlin called competitiveness who sits on your shoulder firing barbed questions into your ear. You just can’t help inspecting wrists for make of watch, peering at car key fobs or asking veiled questions to reveal your friend’s current postcode. All to build a picture of the power, riches and property they have gathered over the years. Having taken the alternative route of disappearing to deepest Cornwall in my mid-twenties, I can’t help thinking what could possibly be better than living here? 

I travelled up to London recently for a reunion in Kew where we all tried to drink beer like we used to, but with the additional challenge of holding our stomachs in at the same time. Bending over was an absolute ‘no, no’ because it was bound to reveal the true amount of hair loss and be followed by the unavoidable over-40 groan as you righted yourself. The other stress-inducer was how to weave your heroics on a surfboard or triathlon adventures into the conversation with a natural hint of self-deprecation. Then, when challenged on times or distances, to pretend that it is the taking part that counts, particularly when your ‘racing snake’ friend went longer or faster or, worst of all, both. All a bit sad really, particularly when I have to confess that, in the lead up to such events I eat less, exercise a little more and leap outside at the slightest hint of Cornish sunshine to get my face right in it, all in a desperate attempt to look ridiculously happy, healthy and age-defyingly fit. If that all sounds a bit like I am trying too hard, then I have to agree. As the evening wore on and we all caught up with each others’ lives, it became patently obvious that the least conditioned and best-padded of our still competitive gathering was also the happiest.

But I still can’t help feeling smug about living in the best place in the world.

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