Sir Benjamin Slade was quite clear about what sort of person he wanted to live in his manor house and share his 2,000-acre Somerset estate. “Good right-wing, hunting, shooting types,” he told The Times this week, with a love of fine wine and $23,000 a month to pay their way.

So I feel a bit of an impostor as I sit in front of his roaring log fire, sipping tea and asking if he thinks I might be suitable material as a tenant of Maunsel House. We haven’t discussed money yet, but I have confirmed that I am not a Marxist — “that’s good” — and that I enjoy wine, although I usually don’t spend more than a tenner on a bottle. “I prefer a bit better,” he says, “but in difficult times we have to sample everything.”

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