Country Life in the Plashy Fen

An article in this week’s Spectator recounts the successful career of Country Life magazine. This is on the occasion of the BBC2’s production of a 3-part documentary on how the magazine is put together. The article is written by Nigel Farndale who worked at the magazine in the 1990s and is reminded of its similarity to the Boot Magna scenes in Waugh’s novel Scoop:

Pitching up at Country Life was like stepping into an Evelyn Waugh novel. Everyone seemed to have an unpronounceable name (as in Cholmondeley, pronounced Chumley). I found myself cast as William Boot in Scoop, the inept young hack whose affected style was typified by the sentence ‘Feather–footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole.’ Like Boot I would sometimes be out of my depth, such as the time I went to a black-tie dinner at a grand country house and, like a cad on the Titanic, left with ‘the ladies’ at the end of the meal, only to be summoned back to where ‘the gentlemen’ were gathered at one end of the table to talk politics over the port. Tradition dies hard in the shires.

The BBC2 series (entitled Land of Hope and Glory) continues next week, and episodes 1 and 2 are available now to be watched on BBC iPlayer (a proxy internet server is needed outside the UK).

NOTE (15 March 2016):  According to the BBC2 website, one of the subjects of the next episode will be  ” a romantic manor house in Somerset, steeped in First World War history.” In a preview, there is a scene showing Mells Manor and the Church of St. Andrew next door. Waugh was a frequent visitor at Mells, the home of Katharine Asquith and her family. The program will be broadcast at 2100 on Friday 18 March and will be available in BBC iPlayer thereafter. 

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