The importance of the English countryside, a love of country sports and farmers markets, the joys of British produce, a mistrust of supermarkets and some forthright political view were all subjects covered at an evening talk in Abingdon on September 26 as Clarissa Dickson Wright was in town to talk about her book ‘Clarissa’s England’.
‘Clarissa’s England’ celebrates a love of England county by county, delving not only into regional haunts and habits, in her own inimitable style, but rejoicing in the differences, both cultural and culinary that can be discovered across the country.
Clarissa spoke at Our Lady’s in Abingdon, first reminiscing about the strange people you meet in the world of television and how her own television career started.
She first became a household name when she was part of the ‘Two Fat Ladies’ with Jennifer Paterson – a pioneering television cookery programme with two very unexpected cookery presenters, so much so that when it was first suggested to Clarissa her first reaction was ‘Don’t be so ridiculous, the BBC will never commission that.’
But the joie de vivre of Clarissa and Jennifer meant the programme was quickly taken to the nation’s heart and went on to became a worldwide hit.
More recently Clarissa has been known for championing the role of farmers and people who live and work in the countryside. She spoke robustly against legislation that allows for people to be misled about just how British something labelled as a British product is, the methods and low prices forced on farmers by supermarkets and urged everyone to keep up the pressure for people to be better informed about where their food comes from.
She was one of the original movers behind setting up farmers markets as places not only where food miles are reduced and fair prices paid straight to the farmer, but also where town people are able to talk directly to farmers (based on the movement she saw when she visited America in the early 90s).
‘The last thing I wish for in my life is to see a time when 85-90 per cent of British food is produced in this country and we are only importing the things we can’t grow here.’
After the talk, Clarissa met fans and signed books for over an hour.
And we also introduced her to a special 'guest': Boris the Badger, who came along presumably to learn more about Clarissa's views on badgers following recent press coverage...
Huge thanks to Our Lady's School, for hosting the event with such style, and to Clarissa for travelling up to Abingdon. We do feature in 'Clarissa's England' - mostly as a result of a most unlikely Abingdonian who ended up as a hair-shirted Archbishop of Canterbury. But we trust that after an excellent evening with us, she can include a larger section in her next book...