Maintaining clear distinctions between city and country is one of the great imperatives. But then, how the countryside is seen depends on a person’s perspective. People who live in cities and large towns have different relationships with it from those people who live at the edge, in the suburbs or right in heart of it, among the fields. To city people, the country often provides more of an occasional diversion than a real alternative way of life, as the countryside differs from the city in very broad and numerous ways, culturally as well as environmentally. Personal and business relationships are different. In the city, relationships can be purely practical, transactional, fleeting and peremptory. While businesses and people might aim to inter-relate, country life is undoubtedly slower-paced and more dependent on local cooperation in making society work. There is loneliness and isolation of course, and some people prefer its remoteness and solitude, but there is an expectation that people will take the time to engage socially, the cliché being that, in the village, everyone knows everyone else’s business through such rituals as village hall socialising and school gate gathering. Then there are the gradations of power elites, interest groups, political affiliations, health professionals, country-pursuit aficionados and many others to be contended with. The minutiae of village politics add a whole new level of complexity to country life and probably always have, in spite of the changes in local demographics since the 1980s. ‘The old social certainties are sinking. Respected figures were once Doctor, Squire, big farmer. Now these people are as likely to be a service industry for rich townies.’ 1