Friday, April 27, 2007

Freedoms

When I was small, I had a black rocking horse. His name was Midnight Melody. Together, we won the Grand National numerous times, and were also pretty hot show jumpers and three day eventers. Our adventures were only constrained by my imagination and his yellow stand. Sometimes, I thought if I rocked fast enough, we would break free even of that, and we’d be off …

When I obtained the flesh and blood version as a teenager, I rode – alone and with friends – for hours on end. I would visit schoolmates in the next village or the next village but one; we would ride on the beach and through other people’s fields, jumping low walls and seats; we would skive off school when the hounds met nearby; occasionally, we would clatter under castle arches to be served sherry on a silver tray by a Lady who wore diamonds in her hair.

Now, the horsy girls go round and round in the arena or spend an hour on the beach. They don’t seem go adventuring. But this is the modern world where even the back lanes are now filled with cars that don’t know the Highway Code says they must slow down for horses. Nor do anxious mothers know who is behind the steering wheel. Byways we used as a matter of course are no longer accessible.


Youth, they say, is wasted on the young. I like to think I didn’t waste mine. I hope today’s kids don’t either; I hope they too have boxfuls of rose-tinted memories to take out on greyer days, and sigh over the freedoms they once had.

13 comments:

Sarnia said...

I had a rocking horse and used to win the Grand National on him too.

My siblings and I (as children!) used to run down the hill from Lydford Castle (in the village where my grandparents lived) all using names from the runners we had seen at Newton Abbot/Lingfield/Kempton/Sandown races.

Have quite a poignant memory about the year that Aldaniti (sp?) won the Grand National. I was temping at Wimpey (construction not burgers) in Hammersmith at the time and my bosses were Irish and race goers.

The night before THAT National, one of them asked me to go up to Anfield with him the next day. I had to meet him at 5am somewhere (can't remember where now).

Got home at 1am still thinking it was a good idea and then decided it wasn't and phoned him and said I wouldn't be going.

To this day I regret that decision.

Sarnia said...

Err - I mean Aintree not Anfield! (CL Semis still on my mind!)

Anonymous said...

Oh eminem ! I want to give you a big virtual hug.. you are so full of life. You remind me of a speech made at the wedding of a friend of a mine.

Her hubby said 'Life isn't just something that happens to Helen, she grabs hold of it with both hands..'

Well, you don't just grab hold of the reins of life, you give it a couple of kicks to get it started and get it running in the direction you want it to go ! You go, girl..

@themill said...

Not Spindlestone or a sawmill, but not going to spill the beans over the internet! Only horse I ever enjoyed riding was a rocking horse. I tried to email you but I had to add your address, which of course I don't know, but I thought the point of the email option was so you could receive email without your address being visible. Just so much to learn when you join the Land of Blog.

@themill said...

Forgot to say could we do a resiprocal blog page link?

@themill said...

Bloody hell. See I've gone dyslexic all of a sudden. I meant reciprocal of course

mutterings and meanderings said...

Sarnia, I remmeber that one - have you seen the film The Champions? Makes me weep buckets!

Anon, thankyou...

@themill, will certainly add you. I have a web email I set up as a purely 'blog' email. If you click on the link, it comes up...

dulwichmum said...

I really envy you. I took up horse riding in my twenties, and I would love to own a horse of my own now - but work and children and commitments mean I could not possibly give a horse the attention it desserves. I find myself projecting my love of horses onto the children - because I would make the time to look after animals if if was something we could do together. I want them to have the type of childhood memories you describe...

Lovely post.

Orhan Kahn said...

Wow, that was beautiful. From the rocking horse to the cars backing the tragic reality of the modern day world. Aw.

Cathy said...

Some of my best childhood memories are of cantering across the cliffs and vast sandy beaches of North Cornwall...as well as the occasional tumble when the pony I rode spooked at water lying on the sand. Magical.

Arthur Clewley said...

This brings my childhood memories flooding back M&M. I remember when I was young my brother had a toy horse but even though I cried and cried he wouldn't let me ride it. 'I'm not f***ing Rolf Harris!' he would say, scornfully.

The Grocer said...

As a child we lived close to an old rundown set of stables run by an ex-farmer who was grumpy as hell but kept several horses. I hung round there as a child for a while and rode a few of the horses, even went to the mart at Morpeth to buy a couple with him but it kind of died off as the older girls who hung round the stables didn't seem too keen on a young boy hanging around and were a little cruel.
Perhaps if we made everyone sitting a driving test sit on a horse as a car went past at speed then those drivers that don't slow down might have a better appreciation.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Dulwich mum, buy them jodhpurs and make them ride, then when they're addicted, you will have to purchase ponies. Thankyou for your kind comments ...

Orhan, thanks...

Cathy, many a time I have hit the deck too when galloping along the beach .. it doesn't hurt so much when you're young, you bounce better!

Arthur, ah yes 'Two little boys had two little toys..." I once told Mr Harris to F-off on the phone - I thought he was a colleague taking the pee. Luckily he rang back and laughed about it...

Grocer, it's strange that not many young lads go riding but the hrose world at professional level - racing, showjumping (eventing is maybe 50:50) is dominated by men. Good idea about putting learner drivers on a horse ....