X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Bookends

Bookends: Down on the farm

10 March 2012

12:00 AM

10 March 2012

12:00 AM

Can we please have an inquiry into why already talented people are allowed to go off and be brilliant at something else too? As a quarter of Blur, Alex James (above), spent a decade creating critically acclaimed yet commercially successful pop anthems, thereby earning himself access to more drink, drugs and Doris than you could shake a Fender Precision bass at. Fair enough, say the rest of us (through gritted teeth). What isn’t on is the fact that it now seems James, having retired to a farm in the Cotswolds, can also write like a god.

This won’t come as a total surprise to readers of The Spectator, where the ex-pop star used to detail his cheese-making, barn-building, sow-sourcing adventures. Nevertheless All Cheeses Great and Small: A Life Less Blurry (Fourth Estate, £16.99) is a joy to read. Prose flows and weaves and curls itself into pleasing rhythms, as James relates his tale of a city-dweller falling in love with country life. Alpacas are ‘supermodel sheep, all limbs’. The sheep themselves chew ‘like Alex Ferguson in injury time’. Someone has a dog called Bastard, while birds are ‘all over the place like a gas’.

[Alt-Text]


Buying a farm has the opposite effect on James to the one it had on Paul McCartney: 20 years of vegetarianism come to an end. Occasionally the ‘isn’t nature wonderful?’ routine gets a bit cloying, but James can always see his own story from the outside. A nearby river flows towards London, ‘placing me comfortably upstream of my past’.

Next up for that inquiry: have you heard Bruce Willis play blues harmonica?

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close