Thursday, June 28, 2007


So, that’s Tim Henman out of Wimbledon. As predicted, he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As the bright young hope that is Andy Murray is injured, we have been left with no British players in either the men’s or the ladies’ singles. It’s just like the bleak days of the 1980s (but thankfully without Margaret Thatcher), when a few has-beens who didn’t exactly set the court alight when they were younger managed to scrape the odd victory.

There was always something slightly distasteful in those days about out and out patriotism; probably because those that advocated it were rather distasteful themselves. The union flag had dodgy connotations: bovver boys with snarling, hate-filled faces. Lots of us Generation Xers adopted a cynical attitude in reaction. Cheering people just because they came from the same country as you wasn’t right-on.

Somewhere in the ‘90s, things changed. I remember Italia 90, Gazza crying, and feeling rather emotional myself, albeit an emotion fuelled by a few pints of Stella Artois. It wasn't just football: suddenly, we had tennis players who won matches and looked as if, on a good day and with a strong following wind, they might actually go all the way. Suddenly, it was all right to be vocal in support of British sport. It was OK to want success. And once they became successful, you didn’t have to adopt the Daily Mail’s sneering attitude of shooting people down.

One of my colleagues still has a jaded, cynical view. Why, he wondered today, did Henman bother fighting to a fifth set, when we all knew he was going to lose? Surely it would’ve been better if he’d done the decent thing and bowed out after three? I said that we’d still have someone in the competition if Andy Murray had been fit. My colleague said: “Maybe, but he wouldn’t be in for long. He’d still lose.”

“I can imagine what you’d have been like in the Second World War,” I said. “’That Churchill, I don’t know why he bothers. He’ll just lose in the end’.”

It’s like saying: “Why bother living, trying, striving – because ultimately, we’ll all die.” I may have a strong streak of cynicism running down my spine and I can be as jaded as the best of them, but I don’t do nihilism. We have to reach for our moments of joy in life; we have to believe that sometimes, dreams do come true.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The sting

It would appear that I have squatters. There is a crack in the eaves where I have spied wasps hovering then disappearing. I don’t like the thought of wasps in my roof. I don’t like the thought of wasps full stop. They will have to be dealt with.

I don’t like the concept of killing anything, least of all suffocating a whole town of creatures with poisonous gas. I am not Saddam Hussein. However, I will make an exception when it comes to wasps. Wasps are evil.

I had no problem with them until the age of 19 when I was stung for the first time. I had been swimming in a water-filled quarry in the Malvern Hills and was sitting eating a Nutella sandwich. A wasp decided it wanted some of my lunch and refused to go away. I ran off with my sandwich; it chased me and stung me on my bare back below my shoulder blade. It felt as though someone had dropped the end of a lit cigarette on my defenceless flesh.

That was when I declared war on wasps. A traveller I picked strawberries with summed them up perfectly: “Wasps are the skinheads of the insect nation; they have no purpose other than going round beating people up.”

Bees are a totally different proposition. Fundamentally, unlike a wasp that can – and will - jab away willy-nilly, a bee has to have the mentality of a suicide bomber to sting you. Besides, how can something that creates a substance as luscious as honey mean any harm? There are numerous deep orange-bottomed bumble bees feasting on the flowering clover in the Grey Mare’s field at the moment. Many a time I have fished bumblers out of the water trough on sticks, and left them to dry on the fencepost.

I wouldn’t do that for a wasp. I’d hold it under.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Anyone for tennis?

It may be autumnal outside, but generally, when I look back from the vantage point of late August to assess my summer, this is where the starting gun goes off. We’ve just had Royal Ascot and Glastonbury, the Hoppings have arrived in Newcastle, it’s Plate Day on Saturday – and Wimbledon has started.

I am a big tennis fan. I am watching Tim Henman battling against Carlos Moya as I type. I like to think if the gods of tallness had been a bit more generous than 5 ft 3in and a bit, and I hadn’t grown so fond of Gordon’s and Silk Cut, it could’ve been me out there at SW19. I played a lot as a child – whacking tennis balls with a passion against the garage door when I couldn’t find a partner. The game brings out my competitive streak – and also on occasion, my temper. I can quite understand where John McEnroe was coming from.

I couldn’t at the time. I admire McEnroe immensely now, and enjoy his punditry, but as a child I loathed him – probably because he was of the same era as Bjorn Borg, whom I adored. It was the same with Martina Navratilova - I was always a Chris Evert fan and couldn’t appreciate Martina’s mastery of the game when she was at the height of her powers. I am old enough to remember Virginia Wade’s victory in 1977 – I rushed home from school to see who had won the semi-final between Virginia and my idol Chris Evert. “Oh no,” I said, when I heard Chrissie had gone out. But when I realised Virginia was one of us, I cheered up.

My favourite players have always been those with charisma and artistry, rather than those with brute strength. I have never been particularly a fan of Henman – his passion doesn’t seem real and he always seems to manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He may not have been a ‘proper Brit’, but I much preferred Greg Rusedski. However, my favourite was always Andre Agassi – I screamed him to victory both times he won the men’s singles.

Roger Federer may be a sublime tennis player – but like Pete Sampras (is it a man, is it a monkey?) – he doesn’t possess that charisma and indefinable magic that does it for me. Where’s Goran Ivanisevic when you need him?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The enigma of blogging

It’s the weekend, therefore I must’ve been tagged (again).

This time, it’s courtesy of darling Chippy, who is getting his own back after I nabbed him last weekend.

I thought this blogging lark allowed one to be enigmatic. However, I feel my secrets are being chipped away, bit by bit…

This week’s eight random facts are:

1. I was born on the same day that Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was buried.
2. Something in the Air, by Thunderclap Newman, was No1.
3. I was expelled from play school. My mother was mortified.
4. The first single I bought was The Tide is High, by Blondie.
5. My favourite smell is the Grey Mare’s neck in summer.
6. I once told Rolf Harris to f*** off over the phone. I thought he was a colleague messing around. Fortunately, Mr Harris rang back and saw the funny side.
7. My first toe is longer than my big toe. Apparently that means I am of Viking stock.
8. I refuse to do another tag until at least September.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Glastonbury memories

It’s 15 years since I went to the Glastonbury Festival. Typing that sentence makes me feel rather old. The sands of time may be running out on my 30s, but give me a ticket, and I’d be there again like a shot.

Going to Glastonbury these days involves jumping through lots of hoops and a certain amount of luck. When I went with three friends from the radio station where I worked, Operation Get Glastonbury Tickets was planned with similar military precision. The presenter targeted the record companies, and I, as the journalist, was set upon Greenpeace, which was that year’s Glastonbury chosen charity. Blagging is not my strong suit; I am not very good at asking people to give me valuable things for nothing. Luckily, I was able to do my blag via letter (I am much more persuasive in writing) and eventually four wristbands arrived in the post. But they weren’t just any wristbands: they were blue backstage wristbands.

My Glastonbury is a kaleidoscope of memories. Poppies in County Durham cornfields as we headed south to London; the coach from the capital with cockney lads in the back seat smoking strong spliffs (nowadays they wouldn’t even get away with a cigarette); dragging bags; pitching tents; the beautiful longhaired man with a faraway look in his eye that I bought love beads from; people with no tickets being cheered as they scaled the wire fence and melted into the crowds; eating tempura and drinking warm mulled wine as the long hot, hot, hot June days drifted into the cool of evening. In those pre-mobile phone days, we were inhabitants of another, bedazzling country that was cut off from the rest of the world. After dark, campfires glowed around the tented city and the beat of drums was an unconscious backdrop; Henry V’s troops encamped on a hill on the eve of Agincourt.

Backstage, too, was another world. There were showers, proper loos – not stinking pits dug in the ground – and there were rock stars. In a Glastonbury that was still more crusty than corporate, we repeatedly bumped into The Levellers, their partners and their dreadlocked children. Rather than the flashy tour buses parked around them, they inhabited a beaten up old van. They sat on the roof and banged their army-booted feet in time with the music.

It was the year of Shakespears Sister's massive hit with Stay. Marcella Detroit had the voice of an angel, while the former Bananarama babe Siobhan Fahey looked brittle, demanded champagne and hid in the corner of the field with a friend because she didn’t want her stage make-up done. Boys threw boxer shorts at Tom Jones. Peter Gabriel wore shorts and disappointed my friend who had a long-running crush on him. “Oh,” she said sadly, “he’s got old man’s knees.” Van Morrison looked sour and refused to let anyone take his photograph.

My moment of awe came when I spotted Lou Reed. I knew if I didn’t speak to him, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Dressed in a khaki jacket, jeans and carrying a bottle of water under his arm, he didn’t look particularly dangerous. But his drawl was just how I imagined. He fleetingly touched my arm when he took the pen to sign his autograph. I didn’t wash it for the rest of the weekend. “Can I have an autograph for my boyfriend, too?” I asked, “Then he’ll love me for ever.” Lou obliged; my boyfriend, alas, did not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When in Rome

The novels of Daphne du Maurier have long instilled in me a fascination with Cornwall; in idle moments of fantasy, I think how lovely it would be to live there. But I have no connections with Cornwall other than a romantic notion of what it would be like: I have never even been there.

Everywhere I have moved has been for a reason – usually because I have a new job to go to. That’s why I am confused by the sheer numbers of Londoners who are deciding, seemingly on a whim, to decamp – or as they put it, ‘downsize’ - to the rural idyll, often by sticking a pin in a map and thinking “That looks nice”.

One of them is having a good old moan in the Daily Mail today about the countryside and country people. Kate Mulvey, who quit London for the Cotswolds, reckons around 115,000 people are leaving the city for a similar rural idyll every year. But if she’s to be believed, people like her who don’t fit in are “stigmatised and even cast out” by “dowdy” “bigoted” “hectoring and pushy” and “very nosy” country types, who all wear dirndl skirts and Alice bands.

Single, divorced or childless (I prefer the word childfree) women, she claims, were viewed with suspicion as potential husband-stealers and were therefore to be avoided. That’s not something I’ve noticed in my village I have to say; it’s not something that has happened to 30-something, single and childfree me.

According to Kate, conversation stopped when she walked into the pub. “In London, you could walk into a pub half-naked and people would look at you for barely a split second,” she writes. Maybe Londoners are more self-centred and not really interested in other people? Perhaps if Kate and her ilk were less self-obsessed, they would find life in the countryside a little easier.

When I left the country for the first time at the age of 18 to go to university, I realised very quickly that the town was not suddenly going to bend and start doing things my country ways. I was the newcomer; I had to learn the ways of the place I had chosen to move to. I learned that I didn’t leave my door unlocked, that I didn’t walk down the street in at twilight with my Walkman clamped to my head, indeed, that it wasn’t wise to walk home by myself late at night in the dark.

Whenever I have moved to a new job, I have adapted to the culture of that workplace. I have not subverted my character – and God knows, I have a strong character and plenty of opinions which I am wont to voice - but I have not forced ‘my way’ upon people and places that have been doing things ‘their way’ for a lot longer. True, I have not liked everyone I have encountered, but I have always made friends wherever I have gone.

When city people stop thinking that the countryside is an Archers theme park and stop trying to make everyone else behave like displaced Islingtonites, then perhaps they’ll be happier. There is a reason the phrase ‘when in Rome’ has been in common parlance for so long.

But then, if articles like Ms Mulvey’s puts more of them off, perhaps country people will again be able to afford homes in their own villages.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow ...

The weather gods may have forgotten that we are supposed to be sizzling amid a globally-warmed June, but at least the hedgerows know their place in the world order. As the Grey Mare and I meander around the quiet back lanes, she snatches surreptitious mouthfuls of frothy cow parsley from the verge and I gaze at the cornucopia of plants jostling for space in the hedges.

At the moment, the hedgerows are at their very best: stuffed with pink dog roses, red and yellow honeysuckle, and the various hues of different green shrubs. One year, I spotted gooseberries; when I returned in the car, I couldn’t find them again. Later, more obvious fruits will appear: a sprinkling of purple brambles, then a scattering of scarlet hips and the occasional half-hidden handful of green crab apples as we move towards autumn.

Our route often takes us over a disused railway line, now choked with long grass and weeds of triffid proportions – all the better to hide the occasional rubbish that fly-tippers think no one will ever notice. There are plenty of things to be seen from horseback that you would never register speeding past in a car. Growing amid the tall trees at the side of the abandoned track is a pear tree that produces a few golden, out-of-reach fruit each year. I often wonder who tossed that pear core from a train all those years ago.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Four hours in the saddle today has left me with the kind of dull ache in my muscles that only a bath can ease: a deep, hot bath luxuriant with scented bubbles.

I am a bath, rather than a shower, person. For me, a shower is something you do when you’re in a hurry; it’s not something to be savoured. It dates back to my teenage years when our first shower was fitted. Initially, it was a novelty, but when my mum decided that showers were more efficient and should be taken in preference to baths, my contrary gene kicked in. As soon as I left home, I made a point of having a bath every day.

I cannot imagine how people can live in houses that don't have baths. The two summers I spent picking strawberries as a student were hard enough. We only had showers that were erratic and quickly ran out of warm water. My first bath on returning home was like a religious experience.

A bath is about so much more than getting clean. Bathtime is me time. I read in the bath, I drink wine, I contemplate the universe and my toes as they wrinkle and prune. Baths envelop and cosset; showers only slick off the surface.

One Christmas, my mum bought me a decadent bubble bath that looked and poured like molten gold from a square glass jar. It was a little piece of heaven that encapsulates for me what baths are all about. I fantasise about the day when I have my dream bath – a giant Edwardian roll-topped cast iron model with golden-clawed feet.

Showers? You can stick them…

Friday, June 15, 2007


I am expecting something of this kind from the powers that be at Blogger, after one of my darling cats stood on the mouse while it hovered over the ‘Flag this Blog for Objectionable Content’ button. Honest guv, I ain’t done nuffin’ wrong

However, I have received an altogether more interesting cross-examination from my aristocratic friend in Morocco:

What were you doing ten years ago?

On a rainy June evening, much like tonight, I was attending a County Ball in a long black dress with a beaded, mirrored and embroidered bodice. Both the ball – and my dress – were rather fabulous.

What were you doing one year ago?

Sitting on the kitchen floor crying because I’d had to move into a flat I didn’t like.

Five snacks you enjoy

1. Marmite crisps.
2. Black olives.
3. Cherries.
4. Houmous.
5. Thortons Viennese truffles.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics

I am one of these sad people who is very good at remembering song lyrics, so I will go for the sub-genre of five songs I know the words to and favour when I am drunk:

1. Theme from the Monkees.
2. The Laughing Gnome.
3. The Wizard of Oz.
4. Band of Gold.
5. Mrs Robinson.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire

1. See my family and friends all right.
2. Open a sanctuary for horses.
3. Buy, train and ride a Grand National runner.
4. Write a novel.
5. Get a Hollywood smile.

Five bad habits

1. Being smug about stopping smoking.
2. Crisps.
3. Untidiness.
4. Sarcasm.
5. Paddington Bear hard stares.

Five things you like doing

1. Riding.
2. Generally messing around with horses.
3. Reading.
4. Listening to music.
5. Drinking G&T with ice and a slice of lime.

Five things you would never wear again

1. Ra-ra skirt.
2. Frilly New Romatic-stylee blouse.
3. Bay City Rollers T-shirt.
4. Pedal pushers.
5. Black PVC trousers.

Five favourite toys

I am not a toy person in the gadget sense of the word:

1. The toy lamb I have had since I was four.
2. The beanie Bagpuss sitting on top of my PC
3. My digital camera.
4. My stereo which still has a record player on it.
5. My Tarot cards.

Now I have to tag a further five bloggers – and this time, I’m going for some of my male visitors:

Chip Dale, Arthur Clewley (where have you gone, Arthur?), Stay at Home Dad, Brom and the Universal Ladyboy, who frequents Gill’s blog.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mists and mushrooms

There is something radically wrong with the wheel of the year. It appears some wag has given it a shove and it has skipped summer altogether. Why else have we been shrouded in mist, soaked with continual downpours and chilled with temperatures that forced me out of bed at 1am to seek tea and thermal socks? Circumstantial evidence, perhaps, but it’s the mushrooms that swing it for me.

A glut of mushrooms appears in the Grey Mare’s field towards the end of August each year: buttons, pink and brown-gilled field mushrooms, the occasional flat horser, as big as a steak, and sometimes a puffball, divine sliced and fried in butter. But they’re here already, admittedly in much sparser quantities, yet still sufficient to pick a couple of handfuls each night.

In our pre-packaged world, there is something deeply satisfying about eating something you have found, gathered, prepared and cooked. I risk scratched arms, snagged and sticky-budded sleeves and purple fingers to retrieve glistening brambles from the hedge, so I can savour the custard-coated crumble later. I clamber onto wobbly fences and avoid stout, sharp thorns to reach the best sloes, which will be combined with gin to be sipped in the glow of Christmas and on crisp hunting mornings. Plums and apples are collected from the garden to create chutney to accompany Stilton on thick buttered bread.

No, I have no quarrel with autumn; I just wish we’d had summer first.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Biting the hand that saves you

I have blogged before about my bizarre affection for that much-maligned bird, the crow. I can now report, first hand, that it is not reciprocated – at least not by the rook whose life I’ve just saved. So pleased was he with my rescue mission, that he decided to bite my finger. It hurt.

The Grey Mare is in the habit of stopping for a drink from the trough in the field next to hers when she’s on her way home after we’ve been out. Tonight, I noticed some black tail feathers sticking out from under the sloped housing that covers the ballcock and separates the two parts of the trough. Thinking it was a dead bird, I pulled the feathers to remove it. However, it was far from dead: it was trapped.

I attempted to free it, but received a bitten finger for my pains. The bird was very resistant to rescue. If I had continued to struggle and it had come out in a flap of wings, the Grey Mare would have had a fit of myriad hues that would have made Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat pale into insignificance and probably put her off troughs for life.

Grey Mare safely back in her own field, I returned with a stick and was able to prise the rook out of his watery trap. He was so drenched, I could see the pink of his skin under his sodden feathers. He shook himself like a Labrador, cawed once, took a few tottering steps, and realising he was back on dry land, strutted off arrogantly. I’m sure if he could speak, he would’ve said: “Am I bovvered?"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blogasmic Ordering

Around a year ago, I decided to take a leaf out of a revived and resuscitated Noel Edmonds’ book and have a shot at Cosmic Ordering. The whole concept appealed to me – in simple terms, ask the universe and ye shall be given. I saw how Noel had resurfaced from the ignominy of Mr Blobby to become the darling of teatime telly with Deal or No Deal, and I thought: “I’ll have a bit of that.” After all, shy bairns get no sweets.

I wrote down my cosmic order – three things I wanted, and when I wanted them by – folded up the paper, stuffed it into a vase and left it alone so the wonderful things could start happening. I took the piece of paper out today. I had been precise in my orders (I know the universe has a sense of humour if you are hazy) and have received a sum total of half of one of my requests.

“There has to be something better than this,” I thought, then I realised I had indeed seen something better in action, in cyberspace…

Gill asked the green fairy for absinthe via her blog, and lo, absinthe appeared. I pined for Bigelow Earl Grey tea from America, and the lovely Dulwich Mum has sourced it for me.

I have decided to call my new method of wishing ‘Blogasmic Ordering’. All you have to do is send your desires out through cyberspace.

I would like please:

  1. A column in a newspaper or Sunday supplement.

  2. A horsebox so the Grey Mare and I can go on more outings.

  3. World peace and understanding.

Love M&M

I know the last one makes me sound a bit like a Miss World contestant, but let’s see what materialises …

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cat in the sink

Sometimes I think I have a
Dr Dolittle-esque rapport with my animals. The Grey Mare communicates through body language and subtle nuances; my two cats are more vocal. I chat away to them all and am convinced they understand every word I say.

It would be fair to say that the cats understand me better than I sometimes understand them. Their obsession with the bathroom sink is a key area of confusion. Even if I have just filled their water dish, they will turn their back on it in preference for water straight out of the tap. They are such connoisseurs of what they drink, I reckon they’d be feline versions of Jilly Goolden if they could work the corkscrew.

However, their interest in the sink goes beyond drinking out of the tap. Wombat, my black and white man cat, is especially keen. If no water is forthcoming, he will settle into the sink and curl up in utter bliss. He has the choice of armchairs, a sofa and my bed as snooze spots (all of which he does utilise), but time and time again, he returns to the sink.

I think being contrary is a key component of being a cat.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Brideshead Revisited revisited

I read some news today that made my blood run cold and left me shaking my head in anguish and disbelief. Apparently a film is being made of Brideshead Revisited, and the moviemakers, in their wisdom, have decided to ignore the existence of Aloysius. Why they feel the need to make a film of my favourite book when there is already a sublime TV version puzzles me, and how they imagine they can do it without Aloysius foxes me further. That would be like making a Harry Potter film without Hedwig; can you imagine the outrage that would cause?

In my first year at university I had a gay, doubled-barrelled friend who wore a tweed jacket, drank his tea from china cups, his whisky from crystal glasses and smoked Camel cigarettes. “He thinks he’s Sebastian Flyte,” sniffed another friend, who had known him vaguely at school, when he was single-barrelled and altogether less tweedy.

I discovered Brideshead for myself in the long summer holidays after completing my first year as a student. I would sit reading in the garden on those balmy days that are 10-a-penny when you’re young and carefree, then only caught in fleeting glimpses through the window when the world of work clamps you in irons. The book made me laugh and it made me cry. When I returned to uni, I had a better understanding of my friend’s posturing.

But I don’t think the world will have a better understanding of Brideshead without Aloysius. Everyone needs a teddy bear.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A little part of me …

... has gone. The rotten wisdom tooth at the top has ceased to be and a yawning chasm has taken its place. I am incomplete.

After spending all morning wobbling at the thought of the extraction, and being told by thoughtless colleagues how much having a wisdom tooth removed can hurt, I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively painlessness of the procedure. The injection hurt more than having the tooth pulled.

It’s the after-care that’s slightly worrying. I have a sheet of don’ts, aimed at preventing a fresh outbreak of bleeding or the onset of infection. They include not drinking anything alcoholic for 24 hours, avoiding rinsing the mouth for 12 hours and a ban on ‘excessive’ exercise.

“Can I ride my horse?” I asked the dentist.

“As long as you don’t fall off,” she said.

Famous last words…

Monday, June 04, 2007


My dear friend Nunhead Mum of One has, in her infinite wisdom, decided to tag me.

I have never been tagged before, but it means I have to reveal eight interesting facts about myself. I don’t know how interesting these facts are, but I don’t think I’ve let them slip before …

  1. I have four piercings in my left ear, including one right at the top, but just one in my right ear. I do not, however, have any tattoos.

  2. I have an O-level in Latin, but fear my ability to converse with a Roman Centurion has been sadly compromised in the intervening years.

  3. My favourite band is The Velvet Underground, but my favourite album is David Bowie’s Hunky Dory.

  4. I do not suffer fools gladly; however, I have infinite patience with animals.

  5. My first car was a red and black mini with four headlights and a walnut dashboard. She was called Cassandra.

  6. My favourite book is Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh.

  7. I cannot abide liquorice.

  8. I have lost 4lbs in the first week of my diet.
I am now supposed to tag five other people, but most of those I ‘know’ have already been nabbed in this round of tag… and I’m too shy to talk to strangers …

****However, if anyone hasn't been tagged and wants to be - well, you're it...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tick tock ...

So, that’s another weekend gone. You spend half the week looking forward to it, then, wham, bam, it’s passed you by in a blur. And, if you’re me, you probably haven’t managed to do half of the things you’d decided put off until the weekend.

Sometimes, I wish I could press a pause button on time. I spend so much time willing it to speed up (when I’m bored, when I’m skint and pay day seems a long way off), then looking back and asking myself: “Where did that day/week/month/year go?”

I’ve been watching and listening to the TV and radio coverage marking the 40th anniversary of the release of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I listened to that album a lot in the months before I went to university. It staggers me to think that it was 20 years ago this September that I went to uni. I was as distant then from the release of Sergeant Pepper’s as I am now from leaving home and striking out alone.

Andrew Marr’s A History of Modern Britain is fascinating me. The world he is describing seems distant and alien; but it’s not. Just look over your shoulder and crane your neck to see around that last bend in the road. I can’t believe it’s 25 years since the Falklands War. I can’t believe it’s already seven years since the Millennium. When I was a kid, I thought I’d be old when the year turned from 1999 to 2000. Perhaps I am.

Anyone know where I can find a Tardis?

Friday, June 01, 2007

A tethered horse revisited

My tethered friend wasn’t there on Monday evening when I drove by. There were two flattened, grazed rings where he had exhausted the grass on that steep slope near the A1. Part of me was grateful he’d gone; another part worried where he’d gone to.

So, imagine my surprise when I finally – a number of weeks after my original report – received a phone call from an RSPCA inspector last night. Unfortunately, I was out, so he left a long answer phone message and there was no opportunity to ask questions.

I was even more surprised to hear that the black horse I reported was “bodily fine” and there was nothing to worry about. The horse I reported has gone.

Apparently, horses are tethered so close to busy roads to get them used to heavy traffic because they will be broken to harness and expected to drive among it. Oh, so that’s all right then.

There are often no buckets because the owners come twice a day to water their horses. To disprove this, said Mr RSPCA man, they would be obliged to stake out a tethered horse for 24 hours. I think that would be a day well spent if it meant a horse didn’t get dehydrated.

I look at our horses here, living in herds as nature intended, with freedom to graze and interact with their friends, and soppy humans to satisfy their every whim; then I look at their tethered cousins who drew the short straw, and I sigh.

I wish I’d spirited that black cob away. Alas, life’s not like Follyfoot.