Pamflet Icon: There’s Something About Margo

One of my all-time favourite actresses is Penelope Keith, who is most famous for her character in The Good Life, Margo Leadbetter. Margo is, to put it mildly, a frightful snob. She browbeats her poor husband Gerry and demands the highest standards from beleagured tradesmen and friends alike. But she is also utterly fabulous. Far from being a pantomime villain, Margot is a multi-faceted character with a soft centre which she hides beneath a steely exterior.

‘The Silent Majority’
Margo Leadbetter: Now listen very carefully to me, Mr… umm, Mr. Squires. I have itemized the components of my rates bill scrupulously.
Mr Squires: As every citizen should Mrs. Leadbetter.
Margo Leadbetter: I am not a citizen. I am a resident. Now, road cleaning, I shall pay. Street lighting, I shall pay. Ground rent, I shall pay. But when it comes to the drain in front of my house, I shall not. Because it is blocked up and overflowing.
Mr Squires: I’ll make a note of that.
Margo Leadbetter: You will do more than that, Mr. Squires. You will have a plumber on my door step at nine o’clock tomorrow morning with a plunger in his hand, or you will not get a penny.
Mr Squires: Just who do think you are, Mrs. Ledbetter?
Margo Leadbetter: I am the silent majority.

Inspiring. I intent to apply Margo-style tactics to Tower Hamlets council who have neglected to fix the TV aerial on our roof for three years!

Bianca Jagger in Studio 54? Nah, Margo Leadbetter in Surbiton...

Fashion Icon
Margo’s style is quintissentially English. As a member of the middle-middle-class, she aspires to the uniform of a genteel aristo but her interpretation always comes with a decidely bourgeois twist (her tweed is box-fresh rather than battered). She has a fine line in pussy-bow blouses, slinky halterneck dresses, luridly patterned kaftans, oh, and turbans. Whatever she does, she does it with panache, from cleaning the kitchen (in marabou-trimmed rubber gloves, “stop bleeding in the sink Gerry!”) to attempting to assist Tom & Barbara next door with their market gardening in a brand new Barbour & shiny wellies. There’s something sexy about her stiff, buttoned-up English take on ’70s glamour – like a daring deb who got up to all sorts at boarding school. Margo’s style can be seen in the work of Miuccia Prada, Luella Bartley, Giles, Paul Smith and many others who appreciate the below-the-surface sexiness of an English suburban housewife.

The traits I admire in Margo: she knows her own mind, sticks to her principles (including refusing to wear a paper hat made out of the Daily Mirror on Christmas Day – I quite agree), always has high standards of dress, and bosses people unashamedly. Plus she is secretly kind and very generous. phoebe

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