BY ROCHELLE BLAKEMAN
Having lived in the heart of the sticks and the heart of London’s smog, and possessing the discerning female eye, I have observed a thing or two about the divergent quirks of male behaviour in their opposing natural habitats.
Identifying the features and instincts of the opposite sex from both worlds is a practicable art: the country boys referred to being so rural that they have owned a pair of wellies since birth; the city lads so London that their brain cell structure resembles the underground map. Whether it is a beau or a new acquaintance whose behaviour is leaving you crying out loud, this is your essential guide to decoding the country versus the city chap.
A country man’s hands will be so calloused from farm labour that they would make a viable alternative to sandpaper, and there will be a curious yellow-brown undertone to them: a combination of silage, cow muck and crop spray. If he seldom texts you, don’t take it personally – touch screens may not be responsive to his hardened skin; unlike his city counter-part’s, whose hands God crafted for swift, adept flight over the office computer keyboard. So soft are the city man’s hands that they may be a natural source of Vaseline.
Country men will undoubtedly have a diet rich in protein: bacon, eggs, black pudding, sausages, stewing steak, chicken, lamb chops, pies – anything that can be laced in gravy or grease. If a landowner sort, he will be partial to a bit of game, perhaps bringing home the venison and a brace of grouse. As for born and bred city blokes, plenty still love a KFC, but a fully immersed urbanite is bound to have had the ‘vegan’ conversation with his colleagues. He may thus develop a penchant for scoffing packets of nuts like there’s no tomorrow, stating that they are a natural, less bloodthirsty source of protein that will keep his muscle mass decent, his conscience clear and prevent death stares from plant-based crew at lunch.
Legend has it that The Farmer’s Guide is set as compulsory reading material for country boys by some unspoken authority. Be prepared for long immersions into the classified section with little to no chance of his dream tractor purchase being realised. Don’t be surprised if conversation expands little beyond farm machinery or sheep. He won’t be browsing Vogue anytime soon, unlike the fashion-conscious London lad. This city man will be a devoted reader of British GQ, absorbing hair styling tips, sartorial wisdom and the West End’s latest theatre. If you’re lucky, that is – he may just flick through some boring freebie about gadgets or bitcoin that came with the Evening Standard.
A flat cap, a wax jacket and a touch of tweed are popularly conceived of as the countryside look – but don’t be fooled! To expertly identify the truly countrified man, look at his belt. If it is a piece of bailing twine, you have found the ultimate rustic. Alternatively, closely inspect a man’s fleece – a country dweller’s will be peppered with animal hair, strands of hay, barley dust and always slightly damp, even if it’s not raining. If a man is wearing an Apple watch, he is a city slicker through and through: there is no chance of a cow’s placenta gracing his arm anytime soon. Depending on his style, the city man may present in a hipster slouchy beanie or a navy three-piece suit. The former probably cycles to work, bamboo flask in tow. The latter might be inclined to capture the female gaze on occasion… if he’s more Savile Row than Matalan…
Gunmanship is a likely feature of the country man, accompanied by flippant cursing at undeterred crows. Country men can also be noted for an ability to grab live animals against a gate to administer medicine and for a sixth sense when it comes to the weather. City men are more likely to pick up hobbies in the culinary arts, skyline photography or frequenting the gym. A coffee aficionado he most likely is. He too can sense natural ebbs and flows – in the markets, stocks and shares.
Days Out and Nights Out
Despite it being work, and having woken up at 5am to load the animals and unearth long lost paperwork, attending the Farmer’s Market is considered a day out to most country men. It is a chance to chat with other farmers (exaggerating their agri-success, no doubt), inspect muck forks for sale and have a full English breakfast with over-brewed tea. Nights out (if he’s under 30) – the Young Farmers Club. The musky aura that greets you is roughly half a can of Lynx, an attempt to disguise the faint l’eau de slurry that lingers nonetheless. The city man’s days out will be highly weather dependent: cometh the sun and his eco-anxiety dissipates as he makes haste to Hyde Park, shirt not required. Alternatively, he may spend hours in a boozy haze outside a pub. Nights out are very important to the city man: from pub crawls to bars to the clubbing scene, he barely sleeps anyway due to the light pollution, so why not carpe noctem?
On account of his demands in livestock rearing and summer harvesting, holidays for the country man are non-existent, or few and far between. Conversation about past excursions may be stilted: does a school trip to Anglesey count? If you have wanderlust, expect more connection with a city man. He might not know where or what Scarborough is (well beyond the M25 hot zone), but excursions to Paris, New York or Rome are his jam.
If you are ‘on the market’, awareness of these differing male mating tactics is vital. The country man is reputed to roam the land and surrounding villages, literally scouting for available women – any females in the sparsely populated community could be potential wife material. If this fails, he may upload a dimly lit, unflattering selfie to muddymatches.com in the hope of finding a countryside sympathetic lass. By contrast, the city man evolves increasingly subtle strategies: conscious of the weekly company emails about the sexual harassment policy clampdown, he awkwardly remains in the ‘friendzone’ with a female colleague, dropping non-committal comments about free weekends and nice but neutral remarks about her good ideas. Alternatively, he may ditch ‘real life’ dating altogether, set up a Tinder account, unleash his inner stag and swipe to his heart’s content to maximise his chances of a ‘match’ – it’s a case of numbers, he says.
Finally, spotting the country and the city man outside of their natural environments is a simple observation, where both have slight chance of camouflage in alien territory.
When down in London, the country man will fumble through every wax jacket pocket before purchasing a tube ticket, holding up a frustrated queue. Expressions of sheer confusion will mutate into rage, accompanied by swearing and espousing of politically incorrect comments a little too loudly for metropolitan ears. The most universal sign of a country man out of field is seen in the department store: with no exception, he will be so ruddy faced from the central heating that you might believe he had just run a marathon in the Amazon Rainforest wearing six woolly jumpers.
The city man on a countryside break is a similar clash of colours. He will be the one cluelessly scrambling up from his picnic and ill-advisedly running from the approaching cow, screaming “It’s got horns…it’s a BULL!!!”, as the creature waddles away, bulging udder in full view. He may stroll the footpaths in shorts and sandals, leaving much skin pray to bramble scratches, nettle stings and mud. Despite prepping like a DofE student with a rucksack, compasses and maps, he is lost regardless, holding his phone to the heavens, trying to call Uber in vain. The Mountain Warehouse anorak he rocks up in being gently creased and sparkling clean is a dead giveaway.
Wherever you are and whomever you are dealing with, take heed of these observations, and you will be able to identify if a man is a true country or a city mouse in no time.
Rochelle Blakeman houses her writing here.