Matthew Steeples examines the truth behind Liz Jones giving up on her “rural idyll”
The Mail’s Liz Jones is a waspish woman who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Those who’ve paid even a moment’s attention to her bleating, will be familiar with lines such as: “Last week, my brand new £1,300 MacBook Pro broke” and “Phil Spencer wanted his £46,000 and he wanted it now!” She never stops talking about money and the size of what she both owns and owes.
In today’s Femail, Jones bores on about about how she feels “like a cross-dresser” trying out the Kardashian Kollection of clothing in a pointed attack on Kim Kardashian, but it was for her diatribe yesterday that she truly got the goat of the nation in “[bidding] a ferocious farewell” to life in the country in an article entitled “Goodbye… and good riddance!” 2,151 people have commented so far and most of them have been far from sympathetic.
When Upcott Farm at Brushford, near Dulverton in Somerset came up for sale in 2007 at a price of £1.6 million, it featured in an article by The Telegraph’s Caroline McGhie. The 5-bedroomed farmhouse came with a 2-bedroom annexe, a courtyard of barns and stables and 47 acres of land. McGhie waxed lyrical about the merits of moving to this location: “People come here for the peace and quiet, the night skies, the dramatic coastline, and they work from home,” she stated before adding: “You can find everything here, including butchers, bakers, afternoon tea and cake, fish and chips, an art gallery and a shop selling fishing tackle.” Of Upcott Farm itself, she concluded:
“This would suit a member of the new wave of buyers dubbed Droppies (Disillusioned Relatively Ordinary Professionals Preferring Independent Employment Situations).”
McGhie got it half right: Upcott Farm sold to someone who considers herself far from “relatively ordinary” and someone who is far from “professional.” The purchaser, however, was certainly someone who’d become “disillusioned” with what she’d bought and someone whose desire to be “independent” and create a “situation” just alienated all she encountered. The buyer, you’ve guessed it, was none other than Elizabeth Ann Jones.
Jones was born in Brentwood, Essex in 1958 and studied journalism at the London College of Printing. She became editor of Marie Claire in 1999 but was sacked, she herself suggests, for “listing in the magazine the freebies she had been offered in the previous month.” Here, it seems, began Jones’s obsession with all things material and here she also met an Indian BBC radio journalist named Nirpal Dhaliwal in 2000.
Jones married Dhaliwal but the union was to prove an “utter disaster” as he had affairs with women she terms “younger, dimmer [and] slimmer.” “I’m no racist” Jones was divorced in 2007 and said goodbye to her “3,000 square foot of Islington real estate” and “easy, if super-busy, London life” in favour of the green, green grass of Somerset.
Whoever’s side you see it from, five years of hell followed. Jones baited the locals and they grew to loathe her. She wrote columns and a book, The Exmoor Files, where she attacked them as “faintly Amish… feral, old and smelly” and another hack and neighbour, Jane Alexander of The Telegraph, responded: “Dulverton [was] positively fizzing with fury” after each and every publication.
Of the local restaurants, Jones stated:
“I have given up trying to eat out in restaurants here on Exmoor… It is still stuck in the Seventies, with only things in baskets and rum babas on the menu… If you tell the waiter you are vegetarian, you are stared at, incredulously, as if you are black.”
She whinged about her inability to find love:
”I will never, ever meet a man here in the middle of a moor, where even to be in possession of your own teeth is a bonus.”
And whined about fieldsports:
“I didn’t increase my popularity by being unable to pass a party of men and often children with guns, shooting rabbits and deer, without getting out of my BMW and saying: ‘Do you really have nothing better to do with your Saturday morning?’ The look of shock on their faces that I had the cheek to challenge them was priceless. I would stop, too, and shout at huntsmen on horses, galloping on tarmaced roads, one hand on the reins, the other clamping a mobile phone to their heads. ‘You will ruin your horses’ tendons!’ I would wail.”
Whilst Jones found little to like in her new community, they found nothing positive in her arrival either. Her dog was blamed for worrying lambs, and Jones’s inability to control it, locals say, was an indicator of the chasm between her life and theirs. In 2009, one neighbour went as far as to tell Danny Brierley of The Independent:
“We have got nothing in common with her, really. I think she may find it difficult to make any kind of life here now. She is not a very friendly person and we are all sick to death of talking about Liz Jones. A hatred has been building up for months. She is actually having a go at people and they are not going to tolerate that. She has feelings like all people, of course she has. But everyone wants her to leave and leave now. No one can make her, but we think she will go. I don’t see how you can live in such a small community with people who think that way about you.”
Matters came to a head when Jones’s precious black BMW convertible, “bought in 2005 for £26,000,” was pelted with eggs and teenagers fired shots at her letterbox with an air rifle. A local councilor even dressed up as her in the local carnival and yesterday Jones took revenge on those she blames for her “five-year prison sentence” and deprivation from Space NK, Cath Kidston and Illy coffee.
Instead, the article just shows the true reality of this bombastic harpy. The lines Jones penned speak for themselves. Country people don’t welcome someone who planned to “hack for miles across the open moorland in my Prada jodhpurs” anymore than the folk of Knightsbridge welcome Arabs treating their roads like racetracks. The gardener who had to endure Jones yelling “walk faster!” at him didn’t deserve such anymore than a bus driver in SW11 deserves abuse from his passengers. Jones concludes:
“I’m now a different person. I became so lonely. I would often get in my car, not just for the warmth, but for the kind voice of the satnav lady. I’ve learned that an amazing view and a pair of nesting grey herons are not enough to make me happy.”
Miss Jones bleats that she’s taken a £500,000 loss on Upcott Farm, which languished on the market at first at £1,900,000 and then £1,750,000 for three years. The “unexpected” sale of the property has given her the ability to “flee back to the city” but the locals and even the “Droopies” should be warned: there’s still 27 acres of the farm unsold and on the market at a price of £200,000. Halloween may have passed but the battleaxe in the Beemer could still call again.
Read yesterday’s “Goodbye… and good riddance!” article by Liz Jones for the Mail on Sunday at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2231033/Goodbye–good-riddance-During-catastrophic-years-country-Liz-Jones-greeted-gun-attack-relentless-abuse-Now-flees-city-bids-ferocious-farewell.html
To purchase Liz Jones’s book, The Exmoor Diaries, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Exmoor-Files-Husband-Found-Rural/dp/0297854437
For more information about the remaining 27 acres at Upcott Farm, contact Strutt & Parker on +44 (0) 1392 976005 or go to: http://www.primelocation.com/for-sale/details/18314693?search_identifier=71cbb8a2fb43a12182bfa7b79b5de0a3