Living in the country poses various dilemmas for a natural born city dweller like myself. Are you prepared to drink tea because you cannot buy a decent latte? Can you live without riotously arty, overpriced flowers tied in brown paper with a raffia bow? Are you prepared to "damn the environment" and drive for miles to get anywhere? One of the very worst dilemmas: Are you prepared to vote Tory? I mean - Oh my God - vote Tory? I am too young to die and I am certainly too young to vote Tory.
In London, I do not believe any of my friends voted Tory. I could be wrong but if they did, they did not admit it. Perhaps if I had lived in Notting Hill, it might have been different. Here however, I have found many of those in my circle are indeed Conservative and think it entirely normal. The first time someone talked about wanting to step up her commitment to the Conservative party, I thought she was making a joke. I laughed. I stopped laughing when I realised she was serious. I thought I could agree to differ - after all, the local MP is a Liberal Democrat so someone is not voting Tory.
What happens? One of my closest friends decides to stand as the local Conservative candidate for the new unitary authority in the elections on May 1st. He said: "I have been asked to stand." I said: "Good for you." He said: "Will you vote for me if I get selected?" I said: "Mmmmmm. Are you sure I can't offer you a cup of tea?" What do you do? He is intelligent, thoughtful and would be certain bound to do a remarkably good job as a councillor. But then again he is a Tory. Do you vote for the man or do you vote for the party? After a deal of agonising, I told him I would vote for him - indeed went so far as taking his photograph with local fishermen and parish councillors at the harbour which he intends to use in campaign literature. I love politics. I spent years reporting on it and am a lifelong Labour supporter. Moving, making a new life for everyone, knocking two houses together seem easy next to this and forget the Democrat Party's dilemma over Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Move to Northumberland and see what happens.