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Country notebook, by Philip Bowern

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 31, 2014

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The British obsession with class is not only about who’s posh and who’s not. It is a reflection of our fascination with categorising people, not just by where they sit on the social scale but how they can be judged in all sorts of other ways too – from the cool to the nerdy and, in a rural context, from wannabe country folk to the real deal.

So how do you tell them apart? Rule one is anyone trying too hard is probably a nearly rural rather than a really rural. Posh hen house for the chickens? No chance. Regular at the rather twee farm shop? More money than sense. Clean 4x4? Forget it. Those with their real heart in the countryside drive vans, eat when they can at roadside burger wagons because they are generally so busy earning a crust – and when they play hard it is as likely to be with lurcher, ferret and nets, catching rabbits for the pot, as it is with shotgun and a sky full of driven pheasants.

Go to any livestock market, check out the faces in the beating line at a shoot or try the back bar of the scuffiest country pub and you’ll see what I mean. They don’t have to be country born and bred, however. A Londoner

I know who breeds terriers and relishes a day catching rats with his dogs is as close to a true countryman as you are likely to find. Well-read,

an expert in his own special area of historical interest, charming and polite, there is nothing of the bumpkin about him. Find yourself in a rural scrape, however, and he’ll sort something out. That’s country class.

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