Farms and vanity

‘I grew up on a farm. No one was into fashion and no one was vain,’ the model Rosie Huntington-Whitely says in a pull-quote illustrating her interview in my wife’s copy of Grazia. I grew up on a farm too, and remember fashion being very much part of the mix. My brother, who is a farmer now, was obsessive about his clothes and hair, and of the other farm boys my age I can recall a football casual, a punk and a sort of New Romantic who dressed like David Sylvian, including on one occasion eye make-up, for which he was sent home from school.

Vanity was more for the adults. I know many people like to think that the closer people are to the land the more ingenuous and humble they are, but farmers – the large-scale arable variety anyway – tend to have quite expensive and unhumble tastes in cars. If there is vanity in £1000 handbags and designers shoes, then why not in new Range Rovers, Mercedes and Lexuses? Because they are bought and driven by men, presumably, and treated in the media as handsome feats of engineering rather than frivolities such as clothes.