Can ewe recognise Chipping Norton in the news?

Chippy has recently been profiled by two of the world’s most prestigious newspapers. One even got most of its facts right. The Times, rating Chipping Norton as the fifth-best town in Britain, was not that paper. [Log-in required to read full Times articles.] ‘This town is sometimes described as Britain’s answer to Beverley Hills because of its high-profile residents,’ it started, comparing us to an area in the middle of a city of many millions of people. Changing tack, it added that ‘the town is peaceful and picturesque,’ A44 HGVs presumably notwithstanding. It went on to claim the population is a mix of locals, weekending Londoners and wealthy international buyers, blessed with ‘London-standard pubs and restaurants’. The paper also put Kingham at number 20 in its separate list of best villages, with the inevitable picture of Alex James and mention of the ‘Chipping Norton set’.

The New York Times worked harder to describe Chippy to its readers in a 2,000 word feature. Writer Amy Chozick came up with a better American equivalent for our area – the Hamptons, a posh country retreat from New York City on Long Island – and correctly said that Elisabeth Murdoch lives in Burford rather than here. Even the accompanying cartoon map had its celebrities in roughly the right places. Ms Chozick did quote former Downing Street communications director Alastair Campbell saying that Chippy has ‘farm labourers and miners’; but also spoke to Peter Shirley in the King’s Arms, who told her ‘this is still a working-class town, and this is a working-class pub’. She also recorded local amusement at Daylesford Organic’s prices, when these were satirised by comedian Mark Steel on Radio 4 earlier this year.

There was also international media coverage of local MP David Cameron rescuing a sheep of farmer Julian Tustian in Dean. This important event was reported by US magazine Time and the Toronto Sun, and inspired a Guardian cartoon showing Mr Cameron holding a ‘Chipping Norton Gazette’ reporting the rescue as well as the lucky ewe, while letting the NHS, wheelchairs and mothers with babies sink into the mud. But it also gave the Sun the chance to run ‘David Cameron performs ewe turn’.

A version of this article appeared in Chipping Norton News, May 2013