'At worst, a house unkempt cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.' Rose Macaulay
It's the clash of the Titans this week. In one corner we have Big Brother, the daddy of all television reality shows, and in the other Daylesford Organic Farm Shop, the jewel in the crown of the Cotswolds. Both have invited me to join them, in a sense, and a personal struggle ensues. You see, I want to like Big Brother. This, the tenth series, is the last. On the August 24 the last of the housemates are released, one is crowned winner of this series, and, as the ultimate punishment, goes back in for two weeks to fight it out with 12 ex-housemates – the biggest names in that strange world of Big Brother followers – for the title 'Ultimate Big Brother Allstars'. Or some such. I might have been tempted to join them. After all, I have a sentimental attachment to something that gave me a glimpse of another world a couple of years ago. But, when push comes to hygiene, I confess matters of cleanliness meant negotiations broke down. After twelve weeks of shut-down in That House we should be grateful there is not yet such a thing as Smellavision.
On the other hand I didn't want to like Daylesford. It has as much to do with farming, animals and the countryside as Harvey Nichols food hall. It is groomed and trimmed and topiaried to the enth degree. Unlike the Big Brother house, which is just a temporary cardboard set to house for a moment it's temporary cardboard guests, Daylesford is an immaculate stage set for its equally perfect goods and services and customers. One is about human nature at its worst, all ugliness and vaunted bad behaviour, the other is about excellence and betterment. That I am more drawn, perhaps through perversity, to wish to like Big Brother shows more about me than about them. In Big Brother I want to show that there is an alternative way of behaving. That it is possible to be civilised, thoughtful, funny, and clean. At Daylesford I want to run amok, flinging sheep droppings and non-organic carrots and crying, 'Whatever!' In the event I fail at both. I won't be going back to Big Brother. And I was seduced at Daylesford by their lovely staff, delicious food and scrummy moist chocolate cake. Oh yes, and not just by the cleanliness - I admit it - when push comes to shove I do like a lock on the bathroom door.
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