Sex and the City The country is FAR racier!: Her mum Joan Collins says rural life is SO dull, darling, but that's poppycock, insists TARA NEWLEY
01:05 GMT, 21 July 2012
Tara Newley writes Sex and the Country
Each morning I stand in my garden, scan the view across the Mendips, throw my arms skyward like Maria in The Sound Of Music and gulp in a lungful of sweet, grass-scented air.
Often, I confess, I feel such a stirring of physical delight I consider rolling naked in that luxuriant green grass!
There is something about living in the countryside that sparks lustful yearnings. Perhaps it is the fecundity of nature — the lush green grass, the burgeoning fruit trees, the way plants sprout and multiply so prolifically — that makes me think of procreation. Or maybe it is just the sheer abundance of sex.
For animals copulate shamelessly around you. The birds do it. The bees do it. Bulls mount cows in fields. The natural cycles of reproduction are enacted daily in flagrant view of us all. Little wonder, then, that my thoughts turn to sex.
When I came to live in Somerset six years ago — in a village so sleepy it is almost comatose — I was the archetypal city girl. Born in New York, I lived the itinerant life of a glamorous showbiz gypsy, shunted as a child between my parents’ various luxury homes in the U.S. and London. I’ve lived in Paris, Boston and Hollywood; then in my rackety youth I returned to London to work on TV and in radio.
My mum is Joan Collins; my late father was the actor and singer Anthony Newley. I adored them both, but unlike my gloriously elegant and endlessly energetic mother, I am not drawn by the lure of the red carpet.
I rarely go to celebrity launches, openings or first nights. Instead, the countryside has become my milieu. It is a sensual and simple life.
The city does not hold the same promise of voluptuous pleasures. In London, you are swept along the street on a tide of stale-smelling bodies.
Crowds jostle you. Libidinous men rub against you on the Tube. The air is heavy with exhaust fumes. There is barely space to think, let alone to let your imagination amble gently along an amorous path. This is why, as a convert to rural life, I have become the Carrie Bradshaw of the West Country.
The fictional Carrie wrote her weekly column Sex And The City for a newspaper. Conversely, my online column is called Sex In The Country and the characters that people it are real — my friends and neighbours — albeit thinly disguised; their names changed to protect the guilty!
And my preoccupations echo those of my make-believe urban counterpart. Carrie’s writing focuses on her sexual escapades and those of her close friends. She muses on the relationships between men and women; on dating in New York, on the issues that bedevil sophisticated urban lovers.
In contrast here I am: Tara Newley, previously a metropolitan It girl; now a proud denizen of a two-horse village just outside Weston-super-Mare. Ah, the bathos! But before you dismiss me and my countryside compatriots as a bunch of dreary yokels, let me introduce you to my friends.
There’s Penny, in her 20s, buxom, blonde and a mum-of-four, who is a hairdresser by day and studies pole-dancing by night. She and her partner Peter have such an active sex life, I’m surprised they ever find time to leave the bedroom.
Then there’s erudite 30-something Beatrice; whip-smart, literary and married to dull-but-amiable Kevin. Bee prefers nights out with the girls to staying at home with her lack-lustre husband.
Next comes Megan, who’s in her 40s,
American-born and with an accent as thick as cigar smoke. She buys
stocks and shares from home when she isn’t shovelling out her hen-house
or rewiring her house. Since the recession, she’s spent rather more time
internet dating than checking her financial holdings — with equally
of course, there’s me, trailing two failed marriages and countless
disastrous relationships in my wake. I’m a single mum of two beautiful
children, Miel, 13, and Weston, eight — named after Weston-super-mare,
the town in which he was conceived (a jokey homage to Posh and Becks,
who did similarly with Brooklyn).
Tara Newley and her mother Joan Collins at the 1995 Bafta Awards, two years before Tara married her first husband
Now I am resolutely eschewing any more bad boys and still holding onto the hope of finding Mr Wonderful.
So there you have us: my Sex In The Country quartet — and I can promise you our amorous lives are every bit as convoluted and fascinating as the fictional Carrie, Samantha, Kristin and Miranda’s.
As I’ve hinted already, I was not a model of restraint in my youth. On the contrary, I’ve had a chequered and busy love life.
I was married in 1997 to French composer Michel Adam, the father of my beloved Miel. When our relationship foundered after three years, it was love that brought me from London to Somerset — and all thanks to my nanny, Sue de Long.
Sue raised me and my brother Sacha when Mum was working, and as a result we grew close to her.
She had brought us on childhood holidays to Somerset to meet her family and when she died more than a decade ago, I came to Weston-super-Mare for her funeral. There, I met her nephew Richard Skeates and we revived a childhood friendship, which burgeoned into a love affair.
Richard, nine years my junior and an office administrator, became my second husband and the father of my son, Weston. We were together for four years, but that relationship ended, too, and my next long-term boyfriend was a roofer, Paul Beck.
Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the popular television series, wrote column Sex and the City
One of my friends, Beatrice, is convinced that workmen have a lusty appeal that can be initially lacking in office types, and I’m inclined to agree. Paul was 13 years my junior. Like Mummy, whose fifth husband Percy is 32 years younger than she is, I confess to a penchant for younger men.
Alas, Paul and I, too, went our separate ways three years ago, so now you find me single and living in a quirky 200-year-old-house with its own cave — I’m even thinking of maturing home-cured Cheddar cheese in it — and a barn that plays host to an adorable family of bats.
I spend my time being a mum and writing — I’m engaged on a screenplay and a novel. And once again my mind is focused on love.
These days, of course, I am a responsible grown-up. I intend to negotiate the perilous path of dating with caution. I will not use relationships as bandages to mask my insecurities; neither will I fall too quickly into bed with any man.
But I am not ready for celibacy either. I am still hopeful that my amatory adventures will lead to commitment.
During the past few years I have been circumspect. I have my children to consider. Miel is a wonderful girl: wise, sensible, the true mother of the household. Weston is sensitive, deep and full of energy and enthusiasm.
I would never introduce a new man into their lives unless I was absolutely sure he was The One.
It has to be said, however, that being the daughter of Joan Collins can be an impediment to finding true love. Immensely proud though I am of Mum, I rarely admit to being her daughter.
If strangers remark, as they sometimes do, that I bear a striking resemblance to her, I just smile and thank them for the compliment.
But of course, the truth does tend to leak out, and I have learned to avoid the men who are impressed that I am the daughter of a celebrity.
They tend to be the braggarts who boast, ‘I’ve sh***ed Joan Collins’ daughter’, even if they’ve barely exchanged a word with me.
I admit I have been prey to the occasional lapse in judgment when it comes to this kind of man — one just a few weeks ago.
I was on a rare night out with a group of girlfriends in Bristol. I do not often relinquish my country uniform of jeans and a sweatshirt, but I’d dressed up: a gold lam top, taupe skirt, high heels and, of course, a spray tan.
A young man swaggered over to me — let’s call him The Liar — and announced that he recognised me from TV. (When I lived in London I appeared regularly on the talk show Angela And Friends).
He then informed me we had something in common: he, too, had a famous father. In fact, he claimed he was the son of the late Oliver Reed. He did bear a passing resemblance to the renowned actor and hell-raiser and for a while I was taken in.
I imagined swapping stories with him about our shared experience of growing up with celebrity parents.
I even dared hope I might have discovered a kindred spirit. But the poor, delusional, young man had concocted a fib because he thought he needed a back story to wheedle his way into my affections.
It was only when he phoned me and confessed he had been lying that I discovered he was a fantasist.
Mercifully, though he was handsome and insistent, I did not sleep with him.
Even on the night when we were driven home, locked in an embrace, along winding lanes by my friend Jessica’s absurdly young boyfriend, I did not succumb.
My children were away and when I let myself into the empty house I momentarily regretted my discretion. But afterwards I congratulated myself. If a man can be untruthful once, he will not hesitate to spin more tales. I did not see him again.
I have had my forays into internet dating, too — and what a parade of eccentricity I uncovered! I’ve dated a biologist who keeps road-kill in his fridge, a maker of sundials and a sports physiotherapist. None, however, was a good match for me.
But I am still sanguine. I believe I will find love in the countryside. Sometimes I think my mother quietly despairs of me because I am on my own at 48.
She comes to visit, of course, quite regularly, though it irks her that we live so far away from what she would term civilisation.
When she calls to see us, she tries to blend in, sartorially. Somewhat. She might wear jodhpurs, a hacking jacket and boots, though she does not ride. It is her pseudo-country-meets-city look. She is always resplendent and glorious, like some exotic bird that has been blown off course onto our unprepossessing little High Street — and is never sad to get back to the city.
On the contrary, I think of my little corner of Somerset as home. My heart does a little dance of joy when I drive back from London, where the rain seems only to deepen the gloom, and see sheep dotting fields grown verdant from a summer drenching.
I have lived in some of the most fashionable and expensive cities in the world. We decamped from New York to Los Angeles when I was a child and had a lovely house in Beverly Hills — which my parents later sold to Sammy Davis Jnr — before moving to a chic corner of Hampstead in North London.
But I truly believe I have better prospects of finding genuine love in the country than in glamorous cities. So much of Hollywood is vacuous and hypocritical; I learned there the simple truth that wealth does not buy happiness.
City populations tend to be transient and money-driven. Here, people have less materially and settle down more readily.
Our country joys are simple: a walk in the woods; a heart-stopping view; the fresh scent of grass after rain: they are all ours in perpetuity — and for absolutely nothing.
Interview by FRANCES HARDY