Dulverton bids a not-so-fond farewell to one of its most controversial neighbours
By Mid Devon Gazette | Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 08:00
THE Mail on Sunday columnist whose home near Dulverton was blasted with a rifle after one diatribe too many about country living has sold up and moved out – but not before issuing a passing shot of her own.
Liz Jones with one of her horses. Right, Upcott Farm and the shot-up letterbox at the property
In a recent missive Liz Jones described life in a luxury farmhouse home as "worse than a five-year prison sentence".
The controversial writer, who divided opinion during her stay, finally sold Upcott Farm two years after putting it on the market – for £500,000 less than she paid for it, she claimed – and has returned to London.
During that five years the 54-year-old wrote regularly in the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and in a book about her difficulties assimilating into the way of life.
She endeared herself to the locals around Brushford, where she lived, and in Dulverton by describing the few eligible men she found as being 'toothless', and complaining about the lack of driveable roads, fine dining, farming practices that don't smell, make noise or kill animals, upmarket wine bars, phone reception, heating, gardeners that don't walk quickly enough and shoe shops or good coffee.
In those columns, she also publicly complained about bats, hunting, shooting, fishing, farming, vets, draughts, her neighbours, villagers, drivers, people who work in pubs, shop staff, chefs and her own staff.
She also had it in for Tiverton.
"I cannot tell you the number of times, confused by the sheer number of mini roundabouts and one-way streets, I have prowled its empty, eerie darkness at night, looking in vain for somewhere, anywhere to eat. Every other shop is boarded up," she wrote.
"Teenagers lurk, bored, on windswept corners. I lock my doors, wind up my windows and speed away."
Her forthright views – took a sinister twist when shots were fired at the post box at the end of her drive.
In her final column from Exmoor, she said she finally decided to sell up and leave two years ago when she heard that a local councillor had 'donned a black wig and bought a tin of Illy coffee to impersonate me on a carnival float'.
After finally leaving for London, Jones said racism was 'rampant in the deep countryside', the 'rudeness was staggering' and the locals shouted at her in the pub after she tried to highlight the problem of a lack of affordable housing, by saying the only men left didn't have their own teeth.
She said: "As I left for the final time on Monday, I thanked God I would never have to return there again. The nightmare was finally over.
"Actually, my five years living the rural dream were a lot tougher than a prison sentence.
"At least in jail I presume you are kept warm, you are allowed to sleep, you are brought food and no one is allowed to carry a lethal weapon – so I'm sure you do not get shot at as you lie peacefully in your bunk."
There was little sympathy for Jones among Mail readers online.
One wrote: "Why does anyone care what this woman thinks or does? I read several columns out of curiosity and she seems trapped in an attitude of perpetual victimhood."
Another said: "What a tear jerker. Try living in sub Saharan Africa and experience the daily grind of finding food and water to survive! Then you'll realise your petty little problems are just that. Cheer up girl!