Michael Graham and Country Life have something in common. Not just a passion for interesting and outstanding country properties (although that is undoubtedly true), but a love of Tottering-by-Gently, the iconic cartoon strip by Annie Tempest which charts the highs and lows of life at Tottering Hall, the crumbling ancestral pile inhabited by Dicky and Daffy Tottering and their faithful black Lab Slobber.
Gently poking fun at a quintessentially English country life, Tottering-by-Gently has graced the pages of Country Life for 24 years and is based on Annie’s impression of the aristocracy, formed as a child at her family seat of Broughton Hall in West Yorkshire. Her characters are affectionately portrayed as absent-minded and permanently half-cut, gliding through a privileged world of Labradors and horses, fine wines and Agas. Lady Tottering wafts around in wellies and pearls, usually with a glass of red in hand, her Lord of the Manor husband baffled and bemused by the modern world, retreating whenever possible to one of his gentleman’s clubs. With incisive observation and wit, Annie takes social situations we all recognise, including family visits with the mother-in-law, embarrassing outbursts at drinks parties and braying parents at pony club rallies, and uses them to make us laugh out loud.
In 2014 Michael Graham teamed up with Annie to create a marketing campaign aimed at Londoners thinking of moving out to the country. Our first Tottering-by-Gently cartoon featured a Michael Graham agent showing prospective London buyers what the vendors had offered to throw in with the sale to make them feel more at home: a latte machine. Or what we rural folk fondly refer to as ‘a cow’. The picture of a country house surrounded by fields hinted at a rural idyll away from the big smoke. An immediate hit, a partnership was born, with Annie revealing new Tottering-by-Gently artwork for Michael Graham every season. More Annie-related content is available on our website and YouTube channel where you can see the artist at work in her studio in Norfolk.
Thankyou Annie, we can’t wait to see the next one!
If you live in the country and are thinking of selling, ask us about featuring your home at our next London show on Wednesday 1st November. Your local Michael Graham office will be delighted to offer you a free valuation.