If you took a read through last weekend’s Sunday Times Best Places to Live in 2018 supplement, you’d be forgiven for thinking something was awry. Because what the writers seem to think counts as a good place to live in ultra-modern 2018 is a traditional middle-class, somewhat old-fashioned but upmarket village, with lots of white people in it and good schools and rustic bakeries. The 1930s, only with broadband.
And it’s not just the Times’ writers who think this. When The Guardian runs similar pieces it’s largely the same, except the Guardian writers want slightly funkier places, and a few bistros.
It’s not that I disagree. I don’t. But it’s rather galling to find that after being told by the media elite for decades that such places are awful, full of snobby privileged people with the wrong attitudes and the wrong colour, and how it’s wrong to want to turn the clock back to bygone times, and how we should be living authentic urban lives cheek-by-jowl with gangs and graffiti and only using public transport, that really they themselves would personally prefer to live in a nice village out of an old novel, well away from the modern world and acid-throwing immigrants and concrete high-rises and knife crime and bad pronunciation and hip-hop. Why, it’s almost like they’re hypocrites.
Whatever would Billy Bragg say? You wouldn’t catch him living in a country pile in west Dorset, would you?