There is nothing finer than marching through a puddle in a pair of Wellington boots. It reminds one of the feeling one gets when having foie grois on Melba toast.
Now, as the discerning, loyal reader knows, I reside in the majestic house of cards known as Parsons Green, located in the slums of South West London. Puddles are plentiful but the need for wellies is actually rather low, which often makes me sad. Nevertheless, my mild obsession with the waterproof boots and my adoration for PG are slowly marrying.
I have decided to say ‘to hell with it all’ and look like a man on the brink of mental disaster: if a single drop of rain is on show I immediately turn to the boots and find myself eagerly on a walk. In fact my perambulations often take me to shops or bars with the effect that my ruddy muddy boots strike an incongruous fear into the leather soles of well dressed men.
Splendidly my boots and I took a delightful trip to Kent this weekend, on Remembrance Day, to see the grave of those marvellous war veterans, my grandparents, Rex and Bish.
The air was crisp, the sky gin-clear and temperature like a decent Martini. This old cove flittered and fluttered around their military grave and then was driven carefully to the local boozer, The George. A wonderfully charming watering hole with an ostentatious welsh dresser and a pair of dusty shotguns hanging above the cavernous fire place.
My grandfather apparently drank at this pub in the past, regaling the local soaks with stories from the war. I delighted the modern barflies with, my now trusty, Wellington boots and a beaming red jumper.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent devouring sumptuous whitebait, wolfing down a roast the size of a waggon wheel and sampling a pint or three of the local ale, the name of which escapes me.
An hour-long walk with the dog on the Kent downs certainly flushed my cheeks pink and as I looked long and far, I thought: blow me down this is where I want to be.
In Oscar Wilde’s tour de force, The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the protagonists, Algernon, coins the word ‘Bunburying.’ Bunbury, is the the fictitious invalid friend of Algernon whose supposed illness is used as an excuse to avoid social engagements. It also clarifies his belief that one can live the split life of being a nefarious rascal in the city and paradoxically a sensible lover of rural splendour.
I do, of course, follow Algernon’s theory but I am slightly more muddled in mind than the created character.
Despite my predilection for flat caps, racing and Barbour jackets I truly am a man of the city. I have unquestionably been enveloped by the joyous concrete jungle from my birth in Westminster and christening at St Margarets, Westminster.
I am a Londoner and always have been.
Nevertheless, there is a slither of me that is suited to the slowness of a country pub, a long walk with the dog up a hill and the fact that everyone says hello to each other. To spend an afternoon in an H E Bates novel discussing the merits of butter is certainly my idea of fun.
And, as the years fly by, the lure of London on a Saturday night becomes less appealing but equally the thought of not having it on my doorstop appalls the hedonist in me. Although a long walk and quiet night in becomes more like heaven with each sticky floored London bar I visit.
No, the only conclusion I can make is that I must marry a lovely lady who has the good fortune of owning a country pile and become a kept man; needless to say that I should also need to have a little Pied-à-terre in London.
Wishful thinking, my dears.