Adam Lee-Potter: My summer in London
PUBLISHED: 16:10 11 August 2016
A summer in London soon makes you yearn for Dorset’s coast and countryside
Life in Dorset is, as we all know, not without its drawbacks.
Moving back home five years ago, after a half-lifetime in London, I assumed I’d spend my days basking under a greenwood tree, drinking cider and discussing butter.
Not a bit of it. If only there were time for such frivolity.
Public transport and my old maintenance-free roof terrace are but a distant memory.
I now drive every day – to school, shops or work. Newspaper editors are all, unaccountably, useless at geography.
The Mail rang me up the other day to say: “Truro’s just round the corner from you, isn’t it?” Now, three hours is one big corner.
And I am not naturally green-fingered. My mother once told me, not unkindly: “You’re just not the sort of chap that looks right on a lawnmower.”
If she could but see me now. I’ve got power tools coming out of my ears, a forestry helmet, leather gauntlets and chainsaw trousers. I even asked for a leaf-blower for Christmas and a pair of steel-toe-capped boots. My weekends are lost, unhappily, to topiary.
What has become of my old urban self who ponced sporadically about, sprinkling window boxes with a watering can, Flat White in hand?
I’m still a klutz, though. A recent mishap with my chainsaw - the red-hot housing fused to my fingers when I stupidly tried to pick it up again with bare hands after gunning it, non-stop, for half-an-hour – means I have, literally, lost almost all of my fingerprints. My nine-year-old daughter is not impressed. “Daddy, that’s horrid,” she tutted, looking at my mashed hands, “you look like a gangster.”
I have - irked by spivvy quarry men, arrogant landowners and mad bullies - come dangerously close to falling out of love with Dorset. I have certainly taken it for granted.
There are moments in one’s life when you just need to stop and reflect on your luck. And I am incredibly lucky. I have a beautiful and brilliant wife, a brilliant and beautiful daughter, a fun job and a fabulous house. I know neither poverty nor hunger. I live in a matchless county. Heck, I still have my own teeth.
I have, for work, spent the summer in London. And though it’s far from hardship - a juicy gig at The Telegraph, staying with Tim, my dear, oldest friend, a chap I met in Blandford more than 30 years ago - I have missed my family and home with a physical ache.
Five years on, I had forgotten the noise, the dirt and the bludgeoning hardness of the city. At the end of each working day, my eyes are raw with Tube grit, my shirt cuffs are black with office grime and my soul yearns for cut-grass air, wide-open skies and wall-to-wall birdsong.
Yes, I was annoyingly well paid and the work was fulfilling and nostalgic - I will never get over my life-long love affair with an idealised Fleet Street - but I am so, so thankful that it’s over.
We should all take time to remember this: we are truly blessed to live in Dorset. I will never take her for granted again. More than that, I will fight for her. And that’s a promise.
• Adam Lee Potter: Every man should be allowed to cry - Whether it is tears of pride, empathy, sorrow or joy, every man should be allowed to cry
• Adam Lee-Potter: Love our county? Then eat and drink its cornucopia of local produce with relish - I am a sucker for a cookbook and our groaning kitchen shelves could give Waterstones a run for its money. From Alexandre Dumas to Tetsuya Wakuda, no cuisine is uncovered. It’s like an illness with me.