Editor’s comment: January 2021

Jimmy attempts to enlist Reggie in his 'Secret Army'

Jimmy attempts to enlist Reggie in his 'Secret Army' - Credit: BBC Pictures

‘After 15 wonderful years in the company tweeds, it’s time to let someone else have a go at driving the rattling train’

IT IS with great regret that I have to tell you that this is my last issue as Editor of Cotswold Life. Magazines like this should always be moving forward and, after 15 wonderful years in the company tweeds, it’s time to let someone else have a go at driving the rattling train.

I will miss it, that’s for sure. I’ll miss the big events that punctuate the year in the Cotswolds, like Badminton and the Royal International Air Tattoo. I’ll miss the posh days out at the Gold Cup, where I have an impeccable record of losing every bet I’ve ever placed. I’ll miss the big events we stage, like our fantastic Food & Drink Awards, which has grown from a marquee at Beaufort Polo Club to a 500-strong audience at The Centaur (although I won’t miss the ordeal of making the welcoming speech – and neither will you, I suspect). I’ll miss the lunches with our marvellous contributors (although they’re no longer the lengthy Bacchanalian bunfights they were a couple of decades ago). I’ll miss meeting the great and the good of the Cotswolds, and I’ll miss the interaction with our loyal band of readers and advertisers. I’ll miss the occasional 14-hour days and chasing Mark Cummings for his perennially late column. I’ll even miss the rude letters and emails from people who haven’t even read the article about which they are complaining. Most of all, I’ll miss the opportunity to celebrate great writing, stunning pictures, and all that is wonderful about the Cotswolds. Oh, and our brilliant deputy editor Candia McKormack.

My successor will inherit a terrific platform. Long may Cotswold Life prosper.

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AND so we all enter 2021 with a sense of trepidation. Surely things can’t be as bad as the annus horriblis that was 2020? The Prime Minister might be bumbling and blustering about things getting back to normal by the spring, but bitter experience tells us that it wouldn’t be wise to put all our Easter eggs in one basket.

The devastating effects of coronavirus aside, we seem to have a lost a disproportionate number of icons of our youth in the past year. Stage, screen, music and sporting veterans have departed, seemingly on a weekly basis.

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It’s probably a generational thing. For those of us of a certain age, Sean Connery and Kirk Douglas, Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman, Peter Green and Little Richard, Des O’Connor and Kenny Rodgers or Harry Gregg and Nobby Stiles, have all meant something to us when we were younger. Of all these lost icons of our youth, I’ll miss the comedy actor Geoffrey Palmer, who had the privilege of delivering a magnificent monologue written by the genius David Nobbs in the series The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin.

Asked by Reggie what kind of people his “secret army” will tackle, Jimmy (Geoffrey) explains “Wreckers of law and order. Communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, neo-Trotskyists, crypto-Trotskyists, union leaders, Communist union leaders, atheists, agnostics, long-haired weirdos, short-haired weirdos, vandals, hooligans, football supporters, namby-pamby probation officers, rapists, papists, papist rapists, foreign surgeons, Wedgwood Benn, keg bitter, punk rock, glue-sniffers, Play For Today, Clive Jenkins, Roy Jenkins…”

Quite wonderful. And for anyone with aspirations to write Comment columns for magazines, bring the list up to date, add in militant cyclists and professional vegans and that’s a damn fine collection of targets to start with.

*******

I do hope you’ve stocked up on your pasta and toilet rolls. May your medicine cabinet be full and your freezer brimming. Stay off the streets in case you get caught up in a riot. Exercise your right to bare arms and get youself vaccinated. Look forward to your summer caravan holiday in Weston-super-Mare. And chuck a few bob into the collecting tin for our brave boys fighting the Fish War in the Channel.

Oh, and happy New Year!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Mike’s brilliant editorship for our next letters page. Please email letters@cotswoldlife.co.uk

Follow Mike’s future misadventures on Twitter: @cotswoldeditor1

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