Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Christopher Buckley

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Christopher Buckley

Article excerpt

Credit: Christopher Buckley

My wife and I spent the winter in Worcestershire. This allowed me to tell everyone back home in the States: 'We are wintering in Worcestershire.' This may be a sentence that has never actually been uttered in human history, even by people who spend all their winters in Worcestershire. It turned out to be a wonderful time, despite us arriving in, according to the papers, 'the wettest winter since 1755'. For what seemed like weeks, every time I turned on the television while cooking, there was Mr Cameron beneath a brolly (as I think you call them) shouting into a microphone, 'Money is no object!' There was a lot to watch on the BBC while I made stir-fry and attempted rabbit stew. Between the Olympics and developments in Ukraine, most TV-watching had to do with the Crimea, one way or the other. The stir-fry was a success. The rabbit stew was not. In the future I am going to avoid recipes that call for large quantities of 'jointed rabbit', prunes, brandy and brown sugar.  I am also going to avoid watching Oscar Pistorius trials.

We arrived in England on 2 February and departed on 23 April. Brilliant timing, leaving just as England was blooming. We were in Hanley Swan, not far from Great Malvern, in a farmhouse that was built during the time of Elizabeth I. The first month we woke up every morning in the dark to the sound of roosters. I read somewhere that a particular maharaja arranged to be awakened every morning by having a cow winched up to his bedroom window. His bedroom was on the third floor, so by the time the cow reached the maharajah's windowsill, it was confused and distressed. Understandably. But apparently it made for a pleasant wake-up sound. I wonder: did they use the same cow every morning? Or would a cow get used to being winched three storeys up every morning and stop ululating frantically? After a fortnight (I love that word; we don't use it much in Connecticut) we got used to being woken up by roosters. It felt rather Elizabethan, actually.

As a big fan of Evelyn Waugh and Brideshead Revisited , I was excited about seeing Madresfield Court, near Malvern, the ancestral home of the Lygon family and the inspiration for Brideshead. Madresfield opened to the public on 1 April. If you haven't visited I commend it, even if you aren't into Brideshead . …

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