by Journalist & TV Presenter Peaches Geldof
Last Easter weekend, record-breaking numbers of us flocked to the countryside. We went seeking “fresh air and peace”, according to the English Tourist Board; a chance to “de-stress from our working lives”.
I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this. At the prospect of spending time in the country, I shudder. This feeling hasn’t grown on me gradually – I’ve always hated it. Not only is it boring but, I also genuinely believe that it slowly drives people insane.
All over Britain, teenagers in families thought lucky enough to have a rural second home are dragged off to spend “quality time” with their nearest and dearest – which means sitting for hours on end playing Scrabble, or if you’re really lucky, going to the pub for the much-anticipated Bingo night with the locals.
I’m always being asked: “Why don’t you make any friends there?” The answer is because most of the people seem to be pensioners, who want to talk about the weather or hunting. The small section of children my age are wannabe rude boys whose only topic of conversation centres on: “Innit, man. Check out dat new Gilera 180 moped with golden alloys . . . it’s da bomb, bo Selecta.” This was amusing for some time. Then it got boring – like everything else in the country.
I can see the good aspects of rural life – if you’re getting on a bit and considering retirement. Peace and quiet, friendly locals, much-needed rest and relaxation to soothe your old bones. But for us young people, it’s hell. I love London because it’s noisy, crammed with humanity and there’s always something happening. I hate the country because the only noise there is the constant hooting of wood pigeons, and the only people there are dressed in tweed jackets and want to shoot them.
Sure, the country is beautiful, there’s no denying that. But so is the city. Look at the architecture, it’s incredible. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are surely more stimulating than a couple of trees and some ducks in a pond.
I know this might sound awful, but I was almost relieved when the foot-and-mouth crisis started. For me, and for lots of my friends, it meant more time in London doing something exciting or productive, like meeting up with friends to go shopping or out clubbing. But now the countryside is crawling with visitors taking a healthy break, inexplicably enjoying doing, absolutely nothing.
There’s something so forced about the way people talk up the countryside; all that raving about the fresh air. I always feel really drained when I leave.
Here’s a typical, “de-stressing” day: enforced trudge for two miles to a pub for lunch. Arrive with clothes covered in mud. Eat awful fish and chips off pub menu (why do all country pubs serve fish and chips?) Alternatively, hang around while adults spend three hours cooking lunch, then two hours eating it. I hate those long lunches. Afternoon, play Scrabble for two hours. Sit in the kitchen staring at the clock for another hour and-a-half. Watch Bargain Hunt on the 60-year-old television. An hour later, it’s time to feed the ducks in the stinking bog. Look at the sheep – which are there for no reason. Sit in my room watching old Disney videos until it’s time for bed. At eight, mind you.
Another question we’re asked by well-meaning parents is: “Why don’t you bring a friend?” Because no one – no one – wants to come. I remember one terrible weekend when three of my girlfriends couldn’t even bear to stay the night and left four hours later. It really is that boring.
I asked one of them why she left so early. She said that she felt like she was going mad. Understandable, as all we did was read magazines. They left when I suggested the duck pond.
“Peaches Geldof wrote several witty
and thoughtful teen columns for the Telegraph“