Magazine article The Spectator

Bearing Up: The Long View

Magazine article The Spectator

Bearing Up: The Long View

Article excerpt

To battle with Sir Baldwin BEARING UP: THE LONG VIEW by Francis Fulford Timewell, 63 Kensington Gardens Square, London W2 4 DG, £16.99, pp. 270, ISBN 1857252039

With a little genealogical effort over three million people in this country can trace their ancestry back to a 15th-century hero called Sir Baldwin Fulford, and his luscious wife, Elizabeth Bozom, daughter of Sir John Bozom of Bozom-zeal. According to our old books of blazons Sir Baldwin was 'a great soldier and a traveller of so undaunted resolution that for the honour and liberty of a royal lady he fought a combat with a Saracen (for bulk and bigness an unequal match) whom yet he vanquished'. In 1461 he was executed at Bristol, but Sir Baldwin's spirit lives on, a little in all of us, and a great deal in his male heir representative of the 17th generation, the baggy landed gent and TV personality, Francis 'Fucker' Fulford.

Fucker earned his nickname from the extraordinary cussing performance he gave on a recent Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary about his family called The F***cking Fulfords. This programme so excited the urban proletariat that he has now been bribed with £250,000 to make another one just the same, but I don't suppose many of the three and half million jealous, sneering viewers who watched it will be rushing out to buy his new book, for Bearing Up is aimed only at the tiny target market of 1,200 people in Britain who still own a house and landed estate. In essence the book (a recension of a version published several years ago) is a practical guide to maintaining and nurturing your estate, how to step around the 'unsporting' taxman, how to avoid being ripped off by 'fat' professional trustees, 'pariahs ... dregs of humanity', land agents, tenants, the Forestry Commission, English Nature, the National Trust, the tree preservation people, and all those flab-by-handed busybodies and power maniacs who wish to claim your home as part of their own 'national heritage'.

At the heart of the author's thesis is the hard-to-grasp notion that people like him are not at all rich. Yes, he owns a magnificent house with park, antiques, paintings, outlying cottages and 3,000 acres of agricultural land, but that docs not, in his view, make him a rich man, since under no circumstances would he ever sell any of it. He sees himself as a caretaker only, whose sacred duty it is to pass the estate on, preserved if not improved, to his elder son. …

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