Margot tries the good life - March 2014


- Credit: Archant

This month Margot is embracing the best bit about living in the countryside, village gossip

A rather jolly supper with the vicar and his wife last week put me in mind of some sage advice given to me just before we moved from town to country. A dear London friend, Beatrice, said to me: “Don’t despair if people in the countryside never share their best secrets.” I wondered what she meant at the time. Was this the same as not sharing the number of the hairdresser it took you two years and several bad haircuts to find with your friends? Or was it the case that moving to a village in the middle of rural Hampshire was going to be like an episode of The Archers every day, with drama and intrigue hidden behind every door?

I wondered how long it would take for me to unearth any clandestine vegetable tampering before the summer fete or winkle out the rules for bagging the best seats at village suppers. Jerry is always telling me that I have one of those faces that make people spill the beans instantly.

After six months of country living, I can report that villagers are loath to give up numbers of cherished housekeepers and contact details for babysitters can only be obtained after much alcoholic bribery, but ask about tales of the village of old and almost everyone will happily part with stories of nudist gardening, debates over trees and how to deal with grumpy gamekeepers. To my amazement though, one lovely neighbour did arrive with her little tweed book of countryside classifieds, sharing everything from cleaner to woodman and I am utterly indebted to her.

A willingness to participate seems to be the key to accessing the best kept secrets and being embraced by rural neighbours. Perhaps the most comedic moment so far has been an invitation to join the Parish council to represent the ‘young people’ in the village! Me? On the PCC? In all fairness, Jerry and I are the young whipper snappers of the village - the oldest being a marvellous 96 years young but still, surely they could find someone else more suitable? I am not sure I will not be able to behave myself even slightly, definitely not if wine is served!

The dear Reverend, wondering how we were coping with our new way of living, offered his own take on rural life - “Everyone knows everything about everyone and everyone has an opinion.” How right he is! News of any kind spreads like wildfire so I can bet that every time I sit down to pen something at my desk, there will be a knock at the door or the phone will ring. “Coffee next week? “Have you heard about….?” “Come for a drink and meet so and so”, “Ooooh are the builders in at the moment?” Village life is certainly never dull and to be honest, dear Reader, I delight in getting to know all the mysteries and histories of our little rural community. Poppy and Primrose skip to coffee mornings for the biscuits, I go for the stories!

No doubt, we are still a talking point too, as we blunder our way towards losing any ‘Londonccentricities’ to embrace all things countrified. Monty, our pup, is doing his best to help us out with that one - vaulting garden fences to relieve himself on our neighbours’ lawn. Poppy announced in a quiet moment in the carol service that she didn’t love me anymore, not once but three times and Primrose has invited herself into several houses along the lane. As for me, I must remember not to go out to feed the chickens in my pyjamas. I am pretty sure that that is no longer a well-kept secret!