matt rudd english field guide

Those of you with highly acute memories will remember that Matt Rudd has contributed to this ‘ere blog before. You may also remember that I have referred to him as a ‘friend’. I could of course let slip the information that we met for the very first time when he was an intern at the magazine where I worked many years ago.  But I wouldn’t do that. Ahem.

Of course now, far too many years later, Mr Rudd is All Grown Up, Senior Writer at The Sunday Times, no less, married to the divine H, AND with three children. But most, importantly, for the purposes of this post, he is the author of a most excellent and interesting new book about the habits of the English.

As there is little we English love more than seeing our habits dissected in print, I predict great things for this, his newest baby, and am only too happy to let Mr Rudd take over LLG for the day…(he would like me to point out that although this extract deals with duvets, his book deals with many more English obsessions, from dogging (really) to ready meals…)

PS Do buy his book. Available here, and from all good bookshops

Dear Sasha,

Thank you for letting me, a man, and not a stylish one at that, invade your glamorous blog. Rather than catwalk on and talk about Ralph or Calvin or, umm, Sergio, I’m going to tell you about my duvet career in this exclusive, adapted and highly unstylish extract from the bedroom chapter of my new book, The English: a Field Guide.

“Last November, I discovered Stage Three of the Duvet Transition Model. Until last November, I didn’t even know it existed. I thought there were just two. The bachelor stage (when your mum goes with you to the shops and you buy something highly flammable and entirely unbreathable but durable enough to get you through your wild and carefree twenties) and the settling down stage (when The One insists the bachelor duvet must leave because it reminds her of The Other Ones).

Stage three when the honeymoon is well and truly over. It is the stage where you realise that the most important thing going on in the bedroom and possibly life is a good night’s sleep. You have already got the right number of pocket-sprung springs in your mattress. You have thousands of Egyptians counting in your sheets. Now it all comes down to the type of goose.

‘Is it that really important?’ I ask Julie from the department store. Julie is an expert. She has even been to the factory where they make the duvets. She can personally vouch for the quality.

‘It does make a difference and they really are fantastic quality,’ says Julie.

‘I’m sure that’s the case, Julie. But what I’m worried about is the goose. What is the difference between the winter snow goose, the Siberian snow goose and the Hungarian non-snow goose?’

‘The winter snow geese are harder to find,’ she says. This is interesting but not that helpful. I don’t want to be paying an arm and a leg for a duvet because it was harder to get the geese into it, although I do appreciate the effort. The winter snow goose lives in the remote Altai Mountains, an inhospitably glacial environment on the borders of Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Imagine the goose’s surprise when a man from John Lewis turns up with a big net and a pair of eyebrow-pluckers.

‘Right. But in terms of user experience?’

‘It’s the loft.’

‘The loft?’

‘Yes, the loft.’

Right. The loft. Fill power. Fluffiness, basically. Fill a duvet with duck down and it’ll be heavy and warm or thin and not so warm. Fill it with the innermost coat of an Altai Mountain snow goose and it will be warm and thin.

Wife and I discussed this intoxicating prospect for maybe a month: the pros (‘but it will be so light and yet warm, darling’), the cons (‘how will it make the Hungarian geese feel?’/‘it’s only a bloody duvet’). And then we bought it anyway using the sort of levels of money that could have gone towards a new mountain bike, a filthy weekend in Paris or a flock of pet geese. And it is very light and very, very warm. Far too warm, in fact, for anything that isn’t (a) a goose and (b) an inhabitant of the Altai Mountains.”

Do buy his book. Available here, and from all good bookshops

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Love this! He reminds me a bit of Danny Wallace, but better.


Bought it and am just starting to read. As funny as anything Matt has written – pure entertainment.


As the owner of a hemp-filled mattress, after reading Matt’s post I’m convinced that I also need a Snow Goose duvet. Very entertaining extract – ditto the section on Ikea and show-off kitchens from his very entertaining book, which I’m reading at the moment.


What does Matt Rudd know about the English? He’s German. From the former Silesia. He is a fraud.


The truth? Each person should have their own duvet. You don’t share a pillow do you?


Done a bit of research, and the only place that Snow Geese from the Altai mountains show up, is in a John Lewis Duvet. Snow Geese don’t live anywhere near the Altai mountains. What’s really in your duvet Matt? Sweet dreams.

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