The arrival of Annie Tempest’s ‘Tottering-by-Gently’ cartoon strip in the Country Life office is as eagerly anticipated today as it was when the first one was published in January, 1994. Tottering Hall-the artist’s own family home, Broughton Hall, in North Yorkshire-and its owners Dicky and Daffy (Lord and Lady Tottering) have moved with the times remarkably well. They’ve upheld the finest traditions and the most perfect manners, yet have embraced the age of technology through their hoodied, texting grandchildren-well, almost.
The good-humoured Dicky (based on Miss Tempest’s father) remains the ultimate gentleman, occasionally baffled by the distaff side’s thought processes. Daffy continues to dispense her singular brand of irrefutable logic: that there is no ill that can’t be cured by downtime with a labrador, a herbaceous border, and a gin and tonic. (Her true alter ego, a late neighbour in East Anglia, will be revealed in a new book out this autumn: Tottering-by-Gently: The First 20 Years).
Tottering was created for Country Life and its arrival coincided with the end of an era for Miss Tempest’s Daily Mail strip, ‘The Yuppies’, and her move to the country and having babies. ‘I wanted a social canvas that would never run out,’ she explains.
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