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Few places scream glamour on a wet winter ­afternoon, let alone a supermarket car park. But the pay-and-display opposite Waitrose in Cobham can still make quite an impression on first-time ­visitors. A red ­Lotus Elise here, two Maseratis over there. Oh look, a silver Porsche Carrera. And a Bentley. Smoked window Range Rovers? All over the place.

Nearly all these cars have personalised number plates. More than one seen roaring through the Surrey village on this bleak afternoon sports the letters CFC — Chelsea Football Club.

It is well known that several of the club’s star players, including John Terry, live in gated mansions just up the road in Oxshott. Like Cobham, it is in the district council area of Elmbridge, which also includes ­Claygate, Esher and Weybridge, each a couple of miles apart. Twenty years ago, this was the heart of what was called the ‘gin and Jag’ belt; now it is nicknamed the ‘Beverly Hills of Britain’.

It’s gained its title after ­triumphing again in the latest ­Quality of Life survey — in the past five years, Cobham has four times been named the best place to live in the country.

Residents of this exclusive corner of Surrey, which lies just inside the M25, have a ­better lifestyle than most other ­people in ­Britain in nearly every way, found the Halifax survey.

They are fitter, live longer, earn more and their children do better in exams. Cobham is even said to have nicer weather, with less than average annual rainfall.

But even though it is described as the ‘closest place to paradise’ in the ­country, there is a fierce battle being fought in this glorious corner of Surrey — and it boils down to that other great British obsession: class.

You see, for some long-time ­residents here, the new arrivals (not just ­footballers, but City traders and fund managers, too), with their ­ostentatious displays of money, are rather vulgar. The shift from ‘gin and Jags’ to ‘Cristal and WAGs’ has lowered the tone.

‘My daughter was at a private school here and some of the parents appalled me,’ says one well-spoken lady. ‘At the end of term, the children would give their teacher a present — soap, ­perhaps. But these go-getting bankers’ wives decided to give a big cheque instead.

‘When I said it stopped the children learning the true meaning of giving, they said if I didn’t donate, my ­daughter couldn’t sign the card. It became a purely monetary ­transaction.’


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Don't sign the card then. Buy your own.

Personally I find the concept of giving any teacher a gift rather strange and akin to bribery. I certainly wouldn't do it except perhaps at nursery level.

I live in Elmbridge and some of the people around here are simply ghastly; proper Verucca Salts-types. I feel quite sorry for my son when I pull him up on behaviour that is normal amongst his peers (and he is only 4). Having lived there for 3 years, I am moving back to Worcester Park. The people are generally nicer and more down to earth. Fewer personalised number plates too; nothing says "ostentatious tw4t" quite like one.

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Excellent recommendation for a place not to live.

Loved this bit:

But even though it is described as the ‘closest place to paradise’ in the ­country, there is a fierce battle being fought in this glorious corner of Surrey — and it boils down to that other great British obsession: class.

Rather, surely, lack of it.

For me, this sums up precisely why I cannot stand modern Britain: the great unwashed's slavish drooling about worthless piles of crap who lucked into a fortune thanks to a turbocharged and out-of-control media.

Let's face it, not a real musician, real sportsman or woman or a decent literary writer amongst the lot of 'em.

Obscene and conspicuous consumption now substitutes for breeding.

Old money whispers: new money shouts.

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Most of my relatives used to live around there.

All i gathered from it is that in their own way, the rich are just as anti-social and selfish as the poor. Twats in their bentleys and porsches almost coming to fistycuffs in the sainsburys filling station because they think its their right to be first at the pump because theyve got loadsamoney.

Id far rather live somewhere normal or in between.

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This story is full of pish. Why not state it is the best place to live in the country if yiou need to be eight next to London ? If even that is true.

It is the proximity to London that is the key not the actual place itself.

Closest place to paradise ?! ****** off.

Highlands of Jockland, Parts of Wales, Lake district, Northern Ireland and the South East piss over a place like this.

Although I suppose that is all a matter of opinion.

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I thought about that. Just in London, how many would throw in their rambling old rectory backing onto Hampstead Heath or their Belgravia mansion for a chav-palace in this place? It's just a bit of journalistic codswallop.

EDIT: Claptrap to codswallop.

Codswallop was a good choice.

Good word. Underused. Like defunct.


Edited by ccc
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