"There's less sex in the city than there is in the country because it's just, well, sexier here..." she purred.
"When I close my eyes and think of England, I'm not in a fancy restaurant in Knightsbridge, but am lolling, scantily clad, in front of a roaring fire."
Having resided in both town and country, and witnessed first hand the behaviours and habits indigenous to both sets of dwellers, I am inclined to agree with her.
Country folk seem far more disposed to indulge in extra marital frolicks than urbanites. Or perhaps Townies have just as many affairs but don't get caught out.
The frantic pace of London life, combined with its abundance of easily accessible meeting places, afford its inhabitants a degree of obscurity, should they find themselves wishing to indulge in a spot of hanky panky.
As well as being favourable from a logistical point of view, there are a plethora of excuses and alibis with which to exonerate oneself, should suspicion be aroused by ones absence; late trains, tube strikes, meetings, traffic jams etc.
It's incredibly easy for a city philanderer to whisk his mistress off to a nearby hotel for an afternoon in the sack. For the country person however, the risks involved in conducting such impromptu trysts, are far greater.
It would be fool hardy in the extreme for Bob the Farmer to take his bit of stuff to any establishment within a 50 mile radius, for fear of recognition. The insidious web of rural life is all-entangling; the solid infrastructure of the Farming Community and it's endless social off shoots (Young Farmers, Agricultural Discussion Clubs, Hunt Skittles, Chutney Making Club) means that you "can't fart without someone knowing about it." (as my Father-in-Law is fond of saying.) Everyone knows someone who knows someone, and someone will be watching you even if you don't know it.
Should you be half-witted enough to check into a local hotel with your squeeze, you are sure to bump into your Gardener/Cleaning Lady/Post Man/Vicar, just as you emerge from a side door, flushed and dishevelled from your lustful romping. The dearth of "safe" meeting places, combined with fear of recognition, (and the subsequent scandalized chuntering of your fellow country folk) would dampen the most fervent ardour, and would explain why us Country Folk resort to meeting in hay barns, fields, ditches, down tracks, and even up trees.
Emma and Miles are great friends of ours, who live on a 2000 acre sheep farm in Rannoch, Scotland, which they recently took over from Miles' Father.
They met at our Wedding, where Emma was Bridesmaid (we met at School) , and Miles was Jasper's Best Man. Apart from being fantastic fun and highly entertaining company, Emma is beautiful, and charming with such an irrepresibly jolly nature that it's impossible not to love her.
Miles is kind, loveable, slightly shambolic and highly eccentric - a most endearing fellow. He is the epitome of genteel penury; his elbows protrude from his cashmere pull overs and his Jermyn Street cords are held up with baler twine. He scratches his head a lot, and is prone to stopping talking mid-sentence, and gazing vaguely into the distance.
Be warned though! His dreamy countenance and bumbling manner, conceal an insatiable libido and the sexual appetite of a rutting rhino. In the 12 months preceding his marriage to Emma, he appeared to be suffering from a surfeit of testosterone which manifested itself in the form of a prolonged spell of frenzied fornicating with any willing female to cross his path. He couldn't help himself.
Emma would always know when a confession was imminent, because he would shuffle in, hanging his head, and clutching a bottle of her favourite Chanel No 5 . Her merry nature and stoic optimism was tested to the limit by his repeated transgressions. So grave were her reservations, that she almost called off the Wedding, but her faith was rewarded. He walked out of the Church a new man, bursting with pride, and so besotted with his radiant bride that he didn't even ogle the bridesmaids. His lustful tendencies are strictly confined to the marital bed, and notwithstanding an unfortunate (and apparently incurable) habit of making pelvic thrusting motions when in the company of attractive females, he has been a doting and faithful Husband. Until this Spring....
Last January, Emma and Miles refurbished the annexe that adjoins their farmhouse, and took on a lodger, a thoroughly nice chap called Hugo who has just graduated from RAC and landed a plum job at Savills in Bedminster.
He has proved to be a model tenant. Quiet, courteous and obliging; he is happy to turn the horses out on a Sunday morning if Emma and Miles are hung over after a party. He is chronically shy, and prefers to keep himself to himself. Emma's attempts to find him a girlfriend have been in vain; she invited him to supper once along with the lovely girl groom from the neighbouring estate. Having met her on several occasions and found her a quiet and gentle soul , she was convinced that she had found Hugo's future wife. As it transpired, her saintly demeanour was just a foil; she tottered through the front door three quarters of an hour late on a pair of vertiginous red stilettos, tugging ineffectually at her pelmet sized mini skirt, from which protruded a pair of sparrow legs mottled blue with cold.
By the time the Port went round, he was deathly pale despite the proximity of the blazing log fire. A quick look under the table confirmed Emma's suspicions. Zany was clearly practised at multi tasking; groping at Hugo's crotch with one hand , whilst emptying port down her throat with the other.
"Well, it's been a lovely evening, but I think I'm ready to call it a night." Emma trilled with a gracious smile.
"It's only 10 0 clock! We 'aven't even done any Jaegerbombs!" Zany squawked in protest.
Emma took her home in the land rover. By the time she returned, Hugo had beaten a hasty retreat to the annexe and bolted the door. Next morning, she caught him just as he was leaving for work and apologised for her appalling mis-judgement.
"I'm so sorry Hugo. I've only ever seen her when she's out on the horses and she looked so nice, and quiet."
"It's always the quiet ones. " he replied with a grim smile, and drove off. He has declined all subsequent dinner invitations, and rarely socialises after work. With his Land Agent exams fast approaching he has been studying late into the night and is rarely seen during the day, so Emma was surprised and pleased when he knocked timidly on the kitchen door one Saturday morning.
."Erm, I just wondered if I could have a word." he replied, looking awkward.
"Of course. Would you like a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich?"
"No thankyou." he mumbled, perching stiffly on the edge of the chair. She noticed he was chewing his lower lip.
"Are you alright?" she asked, putting down the saucepan and looking at him with concern.
He nodded his head and stared at the floor, refusing to meet her gaze."What's the matter? Is the boiler playing up again? "
Hugo shook his head.
"Come on, whatever it is TELL ME. We can fix it in no time." she told him kindly, putting some toast and jam in front of him. He glanced up at her with an agonized expression, and flushed.
"It's nothing to do with the annexe."
"Well what is it then?"
"It's rather delicate you see. It's about you and Miles."
"What about me and Miles?" Emma frowned.
"Oh God." Hugo said, shaking his head.
"For heavens sake Hugo, tell me what's bothering you!" Emma cried in exasperation.
"It's your love-making! It's very noisy and it's keeping me awake at night!" he blurted out.
Emma stared at him for a second and started roaring with laughter.
"You great dolt! I thought it was something serious!" she hooted.
Hugo stared at her for a second, and then let out a high pitched titter of relief.
"I'm awfully sorry. I hate to mention it; it's just that all that banging makes it rather hard to concentrate you see. And if I don't get a good nights sleep, I can't function properly in the office."
"You don't need to explain. We're the ones who should be sorry." Emma chuckled, filling up the tea pot.
He grinned good naturedly and started buttering a piece of toast.
"I wouldn't mind normally. I don't mind the evenings so much because i can just turn the radio up a bit, but last Wednesday you went at it all night." he guffawed, turning bright pink at his own daring.
"Last Wednesday?" Emma repeated.
"Yes." Hugo continued gaily, smothering his toast with damson jam. "You really upped the ante. I thought the wall was going to come down at one point!"
Emma stared blankly at him before replying.
"I was in France last Wednesday."
They looked at each other. The colour drained from Hugo's face. His jaw dropped open in dismay, revealing a mouth full of claggy, half chewed toast.
At that moment, the back door opened and Miles came in amidst a flurry of snow, followed by Jade, a buxom 19 year old from the local agricultural college, whose placement was a live-in job on the farm to assist during the lambing season.
She put the kettle on the Aga, and cast a furtive look at Emma before slipping back outside and disappearing into the gloaming.
Hugo gave a strangled squawk as the penny dropped, and turned the same colour as his crushed strawberry corduroys. He pushed his chair back to make his escape, but Emma pushed him back down. "Stay where you are!" she hissed.
"Oh God." he whimpered.
Miles was humming to himself as he rummaged in the larder for the Marmite, blissfully unaware us of the mini drama unfolding behind his back. He sat down at the table, rubbing his hands and smiling cheerily, oblivious to Hugo's appalled expression and Emma's narrow eyed scrutiny.
"Hello old chap! How's the cramming going?" he boomed, pouring himself a cup of tea.
Hugo made a strangled noise and slumped lower in his chair, as though hoping to slide out of view beneath the table.
"Is breakfast ready?" he asked, spooning sugar into the tea.
"Of course darling. Right away." trilled Emma in a saccharine voice.
She put his plate down in front of him. He returned her indulgent smile and patted her on the bottom.
"You must be very hungry darling." she said silkily.
"I am." he agreed enthusiastically. "Absolutely starving."
"I'm sorry i wasn't here to cook your breakfast last week my love. I do feel very guilty about that, especially when you were so busy."
"Don't worry. I managed." Miles said generously as he chomped on a sausage.
Charlie slid a bit further down in his chair.
"You must have been hard at it."
Miles nodded. "Bloody hard work last week. I was up all night."
"I bet you were." Emma replied sweetly.
Miles speared a piece of black pudding and shoved it in whole.
"I am lucky to have such a wonderful Wifey!" he simpered at her.
"Have you been sleeping with the sheep hand?" she enquired casually as she shook some cornflakes into her bowl.
Miles dropped his knife and fork with a clatter and stared at her with an expression of hurt outrage.
"I beg your pardon! Poppet! ! How could you ask such a thing?!"
Emma regarded him steadily for a second or two.
"Have you been sleeping with the sheep hand?" she repeated.
"Of course i haven't! How could you think such a thing?!" he cried.
Emma glanced at Charlie whose eyebrows were now level with the table top.
"HAVE YOU BEEN SLEEPING WITH THE SHEEP HAND?!" she screamed.
"Yes." he squeaked, hanging his head in shame.
The sheep hand was duly sacked (no pun intended), and I am happy to report that despite Miles' crepuscular activities, he and Emma are very happy and have just celebrated their 6th Wedding anniversary. As Emma pointed out, One Bottle of Chanel No 5 in six years of marriage isn't too bad - is it?