Piles

I have a love/hate affair with what Virginia Woolf called 'those comfortable padded lunatic asylums which are known euphemistically as the stately homes of England.' Surely even those without a mother prone to riff on the earnest, sweaty idealism of her days in the SWP must feel the chill fingers of the little match girl Social Conscience pluck at their collar after spending a few hours glorying in the opulence of privileged piles built on the corpses of the poor. So I tried to despise Versailles. Peeling myself from the fetid sheets of my bohemian beggar's bolthole à Paris, hirsute of armpit and haughty of glare like a good revolutionary girl, I visited the Sun King's infamously ornate ville last weekend. And loved it, of course. Even though Louis and Marie-A were evidently the gilt-edged Jordan and Pete of their day and the Grandes Eaux Nocturnes extravaganza was Disney Does Quatorze On Dry Ice sponsored by Classic FM, I just couldn't raise the requisite socialist sneer. Versailles may be the crazy vision of a money-mullered, inbred nutter, but our unsunny, scrote-shrivellingly sanctimonious society needs its mad, bad joie de vivre like never before.

I also realised for the first time just how apt Sofia Coppola's Sex-and-the-Chateau movie Marie Antoinette really is. As paradoxically light and sickening as Hummingbird's red velvet cupcakes, with the same synthetic mouthfeel, sour aftertaste, and somnambulant tendency to swaddle your brain in layers of Chantilly-sweet fat, it's punk posing and couture kitsch perfectly capture the culture-raping, mythology-pillaging insanity that is Versailles.

Moreover, any lover of craftmanship - and anyone who reads Richard Sennett's recent release The Craftsman will be reminded that it is the only lasting achievement we opposable-thumbed apes can really claim - can reassure themselves that these places really memorialise the smiths and the gardeners, the carpenters and the gilders, the bent-backed, torn-fingered little men whose grafting made them great.

In fact, it is surely my moral duty to remember those humble artisans by visiting the best of the world's manors and chateaux, follies and seraglios, begarbed in suitable new season McQueen and guided by my Luxe World Grand Tour box hand-crafted in iridescent carbon matt lam overlaid with rich black velvet flock brocade.

Flock me. I'm even helping some honest, upstanding peasant to keep the time-honoured tradition of iridescent carbon matt lam overlaying alive.