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More and more people are, apparently, making the big move from the city to the country. Life out there in the sticks is very different from city existence, though, and not all people make the big jump successfully from flat-dwelling into living in a house in the country, so here is a Basic Alphabet of Country Living to help you get started.

AGA. A stove which lets no cooking smells escape while food is being cooked. Thus one often opens an Aga door to find something left in there 36 hours previously. If you pass a country house with a roasting tray of what seem to be black turds outside the kitchen door but were actually once sausages, it is occupied by Aga-owners.

BARBOUR. A garment which allows rain water to run off your torso, soak your trousers and run into your boots.

COUNTRY COOKING.There are only two kinds of country cooking: 1.Delia. 2. Takeaways. Nobody in the country has much taken to the cooking of Nigella, partly because it is already the name of a plant, partly because Delia Smith is the Vera Lynn of cooking and you wouldn't want cover versions of Vera Lynn.

DAMP COURSE. Normal course taken by river across the kitchen floor during rain.

Deer. An animal which is loved in the town, where it is seen as a sort of Bambi. In the country, however, all true country people loathe and detest deer as being the nearest thing to a vegetarian tyrannosaurus rex.

Dish washer. Husband.

Dresser. Person who chooses the right clothes for you to wear for going out to dinner, drinks party, health club etc. Also for trips to friends across the River Severn (Welsh dresser ), etc.

Flash Flood. Sudden downpour of rain, followed by flash of light, followed by power cut and darkness.

Four Wheel Drive Vehicle. A country car big enough to contain both a business and economy section. It has up to three different reverse gears to help it back into passing places.

Fox. Dog-like creature which occasionally leaves its natural haunts in London and can be seen running wild in the country.

Freezer. In a country house, the dining room.

Husky. Primitive forerunner of the waistcoat. A kind of large Jiffy bag with arm-holes. Interestingly, people with big houses tend to put on a Husky when they arrive and go indoors.

Incomers. Country word for new arrivals. Getting accepted in the country is very much the same process as an asylum seeker follows arriving in Britain and settling down in Oldham, though perhaps not so smooth.

Lobby. Space that not even an estate agent could honestly claim was a separate room. Place where boots and clothing not good enough to give to Oxfam are kept to lend to visitors.

Local. Pub ten miles away.

Logs. Firewood in bulk form.

Loo. No matter what shape or architectural style a country house or cottage is, the loo in it for some strange reason is always "Up the stairs and straight ahead."

Old. Word placed in front of new country house, as in Old Post Office, Old Schoolhouse, Old Second Home, etc.

Open Fire. Method of keeping chimney warm.

Personal Trainer. Shoe you have finally identified as yours in the pile of footwear by the door.

Pint-to-Pint. Vain search on Sunday for place open to sell milk.

Quark, Quantock, Queen, Quail, etc. Anything beginning with Qu- belongs to the countryside.

School Runs. School runs is the name given to an upset stomach condition that happens to children just before it's time for school.

Village Shop. Places that willingly accepts your unwanted Sainsbury's carrier bags.

Weekend. Best time of the week to be in London.

WI Market. Place where, every week or fortnight, chutney changes hands in exchange for gossip.

The Independent Monday Aug 20 01


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