If you had told me three weeks ago that our Sunday pudding (bit of a tradition) would be made using a recipe by Paul O’Grady, I think I would have laughed.
Two weeks ago I read a review in a Sunday magazine for his Country Life book coming out in paperback and I went straight online and bought it in hardback. I couldn’t wait a whole month.
I have loved watching Paul on television but to be honest, I didn’t know anything about his private life or where he lived.
I suppose his love of dogs is well known so it is not surprising that he loves all animals (except rats and wasps.
I laughed out loud in places. The farmer didn’t know what was going on. You see I felt, in reading the book that Paul and I are kindred spirits.
I’ve made the same mistakes as he has. I just wish I had read his book first. Although I imagine the chances of me listening to him would probably be slim to none.
Through Sir Paul’s words (I added the title myself but I can’t imagine that will be long), I could hear him speaking to me in his best Birkenhead accent.
He compares animals to movie stars likening a limping chicken to Jimmy Cagney and describing squirrels as rat with feather boas.
My favourite line was in his chapter about geese. He described a trip into the garden being akin to “running across the Gaza Strip.” I think only people who have kept geese would laugh as hard as I did about this.
Paul kept the soul of a rat as a curio which is definitely something I would do and I just wish I could have a cup of tea with him and discuss our shared learning curve.
Paul has lived in the country for two decades now and so I do have some catching up to do. I would say though that every country person needs a handy man as good as Sean. If he could be spared for a month, I’d be ever so grateful.
I started the book and was unable to put it down but, as I got three quarters of the way through, I started to get sad that it was almost over so I started limiting myself to one chapter a day.
If we had more room or the children were older, I too would have 127 dogs. I need to learn to do fencing if Paul won’t let me borrow Sean. That way I could probably orchestrate more animals myself.
Each chapter looked at a different animal or part of his country life-his allotment or the orchard or the geestapo.
The story of his life is interweaved with the story of his home and farm and it really is inspiring. I was surprised at how well he likes things like preserving, baking and gardening as well as livestock.
Put it this way. At the beginning of the chapter about his house cow, Dot I was looking up cows for sale on the internet. By the end of the chapter, I had stopped.
I often say hilarious things (mostly with animals) happen to me but I am pleased to say after reading this book- I am not the only one.
When I got to the recipe chapter and the chapter about herbs and plants, I did feel a little cheated. I would have much rather carried on reading about the country escapades but then, I read the recipe for Auntie Sadie’s Roscommon Tart and, having a glut of rhubarb in the kitchen, I ended up being thankful for the recipes in the end.
At the beginning of the book it says: “For all you townies considering a move to a more rural idyll. This book will either put you off or have you rushing to an estate agent.”
If you’re expecting celebrity and sequins, this is not the book for you. Think scruffs and wellies pulled off by the most lovely TV star alive.
I finished the book wishing I could have that brew with Paul but on second thoughts, I think the mischief we would get up to may prove a problem. Many, many animals could potentially be re-homed in that one meeting.
I am eagerly awaiting the TV series to go with the book. Imagine that?
Paul O’Grady’s Country Life is available now in hardback and comes out in paperback on September 6th, 2018.
It is published by Penguin Random House UK and the ISBN is 9780593072417