Mark Cummings: The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind

A pair of handsome northerners: Mike Lowe and Mark Cummings

A pair of handsome northerners: Mike Lowe and Mark Cummings - Credit: © Thousand Word Media

Mark Cummings and Mike Lowe add a little Northern manly grit to Jilly Cooper’s perfect garden party

"Dreamy" Dale Vince © Adrian Sherratt

"Dreamy" Dale Vince © Adrian Sherratt - Credit: Archant

It was almost the perfect evening… almost. Jilly Cooper had invited a few local media friends around to her place for nibbles and a gander at her new romping, racy novel called Mount. Suited and booted I arrived at her stunning Bisley home to be greeted by what appeared to be the perfect garden party.

If this evening was going to be recreated for the stage and put on as a play, it had all the elements you could hope for. First of all, the set design and scenery were provided by God with intoxicating views across the tumbling Stroud valleys as the sun slowly sank and melted into the far away Minchinhampton Common. The cast list was stellar. Jilly as lead of course, supported by author Katie Fforde, actress and writer Emma Samms and a gaggle of great friends from Cotswold Life and the local TV and newspapers. Rumbling tummies were sated with delicious canapés (from experience, you need at least 20 to feel full and it doesn’t matter if you haven’t a clue what they are), washed down with copious amounts of wine, gin and bubbly.

Jilly provided the humour, suspense and drama with her speech referencing the front cover of her latest blockbuster which reads ‘Mount Jilly Cooper’. You can guess the rest.

So why was this ‘almost’ the perfect evening? Well every decent play should have a villain and we had one. This menacing character wasn’t even at the party but his presence loomed large for me and the Editor of Cotswold Life, Mike Lowe. We had both put in a fair bit of effort for this shindig because we like to add a little northern manly grit into the sometimes rather soft southern male mix at these events. We’d freshened up beforehand with showers, I’d sloshed Pomegranate and Earl Grey shower gel all over me and Mike had worn out his latest pumice stone to smooth away those niggling rough edges. It was a little cramped but with dexterity and flexibility it’s quite possible to fit two into a standard size shower. With an air of flirty confidence and a whiff of Hai Karate aftershave we mingled and flirted our way through the evening adding what we thought was a welcome splash of granite-infused eye candy.

Then to our horror it went horribly wrong. It started with Jilly’s depiction of her next novel based around a local football team. Tackle will be loosely based on Forest Green Rovers Football Club and at this point Jilly decided to share her feelings on the “dreamy” Dale Vince. This green energy industrialist, former new age traveller and now chairman of Forest Green Rovers became the hot, and I mean hot, topic for the next 39 minutes… I counted them. It appears he might be the inspiration for her hero figure and to make matters worse Katie Fforde leapt in and started to drool, Emma Samms physically started to dribble and my wife Jo went into a weird lascivious trance whilst describing his wind swept hair and the brooding Heathcliff sex appeal.

Mike and I couldn’t take much more so we slunk off disconsolately to the back garden to seek solace with Jilly’s rescue greyhound and lick our wounds. All I can say is, have a look at these photos and you decide.

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Read the rest of Mark’s column in the November issue of Cotswold Life available now!

For more from Mark Cummings, listen to him on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s morning show 6am-9am and follow him on Twitter @cummingsradio