Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Separated at birth?

I have finally been to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Am I the only one that thinks Imelda Staunton did a damn fine impression of Maggie Thatcher as the toad-like Dolores Umbridge? Helena Bonham Carter was in fine form as the evil Bellatrix Lestrange but I wish the director had told Emma Watson (Hermione) that constant deep breathing and eyebrows with a life of their own do not a convincing performance make.

The other thing that grated was the amount of munching and slurping going on. Harry Potter films are long – yet the sense of being at a midnight feast persisted throughout. Has the nanny state so shamed the UK’s junk food eaters that they now only dare indulge under cover of darkness at the cinema?

Perhaps the eating was a desperate ploy by parents trying to keep their children quiet. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. After the first half hour, the small people because restless and talkative. There were children there who were far to young to be able to follow the plot and were patently lost.

However, I enjoyed the film and enjoyed the trailer for the first of the His Dark Materials films, which will be out later in the year. Though why Northern Lights has been renamed the Golden Compass I do not know. I just hope they haven’t messed about too much with the story.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dear tourists …

Do you leave your brains at home when you go on holiday? That’s the only explanation I can offer for the idiocy I have witnessed from tourists this weekend. Either that, or those I have encountered are just imbeciles.

I have ridden on the beach twice this weekend. It has been windy on both days and people have decided it would be marvellous fun to fly kites. Fine; just don’t swoop them down so they frighten the horses, and don’t stand in the middle of the beach so I don’t know which side you’ll chose when you bring them horse-scaringly down to earth. In addition, if you have a yappy, rat-like terrier that enjoys chasing things, keep it on a lead when there are horses cantering by. I don’t enjoy being chased.

I also would advise fathers with toddlers to look where they are going and not stare at the sand when they decide to walk up the beach from the sea. Then you will avoid being ploughed into said sand by a galloping horse. That’s what nearly happened to one poor dear today. He awoke from a dream when I yelled: “Watch out!” as he ambled across my path. There is no way I, or the two riders behind me, would’ve been able to stop in time.

Climbing down the main access route to the beach through the dunes, must, it would seem, be arduous work. I can come up with no other explanation why a family would set up their seats, yellow inflatable boat and child’s buggy across the main thoroughfare like an Everest expedition’s base camp. Such behaviour is tantamount to sitting down in the middle of the pavement. And don’t look at me like I’m an idiot when I ask you to move it. It’s not me that’s blocking the only horse-friendly route off the beach.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I am no fan of caravans. My hatred is ratcheted up another notch when caravette drivers with white hair and indecipherable gender decide to reverse without bothering to look what’s behind them. I offer no apology for going into full shouting, arm-waving Basil Fawlty mode when they narrowly avoid hitting a pony.

And it’s only the second weekend of the holidays …

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fame, fame, fatal fame...

When I was small, I wanted to be famous. I used to think everybody did. Now I can imagine no worse fate than having a recognisable face. Of course, it’s not just your face they’re interested in: it’s your cellulite, your skinniness, your wrinkles and your spots. Each blemish magnified and laid bare for criticism. They reckon you’re fair game.

To my chagrin, I must confess to surfing the Daily Mail’s website while I have my lunch. Every few weeks, someone else is ‘It’. At the moment, it’s Amy Winehouse. Amy, apparently, is too thin, and her lifestyle is taking its toll on her looks. Before her, it was Kate Moss. Photographs of 30-something Kate are compared to Kate when she was a teenager. Goodness, can you see the difference? Kate’s lifestyle is apparently taking its toll on her looks. For a while, it was Sienna Miller. How dare Sienna, the paper intimates, dare to be blonde, good looking, and managing to survive without Jude Law? I think the Daily Mail should just be done with it, and call itself the Daily Misogynist.

In my radio days, I had two pseudo-stalkers. The most recent called himself my “biggest fan”, and would telephone the newsroom when I was reading late night and weekend bulletins. Where, he would ask, could he see me perform? Surely I acted as well? It would be a shame not to, he said, with a voice like mine. A few years earlier, at a different radio station, I would receive frilly cards riddled with bad spelling from an ‘admirer’. He would call reception and ask to speak to me. I always refused. Then, I think (I can’t be sure), I met him while ordering drinks at a bar. A surprisingly normal looking person asked me where I was from. “The North East,” I replied. “So is M&M on the radio,” he said. “You sound like her. She’s from Newcastle, you know. Do you know her?” I quickly made my excuses and fled.

I was uncomfortable, although not unduly worried by these experiences. But imagine that magnified by a million and happening every day. When I am a famous author, I shall have a pen name. I shall invent a history for the book jacket. At book signings, I shall wear a black wig, huge black sunglasses and scarlet lipstick. No one will ever know it’s me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Show business

The letters have gone out: I am a wanted woman. I haven’t received mine (it will be at my old address and I’m not going around to retrieve it) but my friend has. My name is on her letter too. But we have both agreed to stand firm this year: the local agricultural show must go on without us.

When I agreed to steward for the pony classes, I thought it would be a fun thing to do. I didn’t realise I was signing away my August Bank Holiday ad infinitum. That, however, has been the case. I’m actually quite scared to say: “No, sorry, no can do.” I plan to duck and dive a bit instead…

Showing classes, or rather the people who show their horses, have rather a reputation for competitiveness. Even – or should I say, especially - the tiny tots on the lead-rein: the determined mothers dressed in tweed matching their adored little one’s jacket, the toning ribbons in the child’s hair (it’s usually a girl) and the pretty Welsh pony and its tack polished to within an inch of their lives. “You’re on the wrong diagonal!” I heard an anguished father hiss at his daughter as they trotted passed. When I was that size, I had no idea what a diagonal was.

Then there are the Arab owners. There are two types of people who buy Arabs: the jolly hockey sticks endurance types and those with a desire to show their exceptional equine in-hand. The in-hand Arabs arrive, their dished faces adorned with traditional rolled leather Arabian bridles, their heads held high and their pixie-like ears pricked to attention. They are usually accompanied by the most unhorsy horsy people you would expect to see in a show ring. If it wasn’t for the leather cane carried under the arm, the flat shoes for running, and of course, the horse, you could be forgiven if you thought they were supposed to be somewhere else.

They appear perfectly lovely, hair piled high, immaculately dressed and made up – until something goes wrong. Like when they’re late and the class has started – and finished - without them. Then they’re not so sweet. As they argue with the judge, you think: “You’d have made it if you hadn’t spent so much time in front of the mirror.” But you don’t say anything.

You don’t know whether to speak up, either, when the judge bends down to examine a pony’s hooves .. . and leaves her tweed skirt around her ankles. You bite your lip to stop yourself laughing, then wonder if you should dash to her aid. The competitor standing nearby prods you. “Steward! Don’t you think you should be helping your judge?” As you traipse across the field, you hope she’ll notice before you get there. She doesn’t, but fortunately she has a sense of humour.

As you leave after the last class, you cringe as you hear her tell the reporter from the local paper: “You’ll never guess what just happened to me …”

Monday, July 23, 2007

School's out

At this time of year, I wish I were a primary school teacher. How I would adore six weeks free from the daily grind … then I remember that I’m not particularly fond of children (I wish some of my teachers had had the decency to consider that fact when choosing their careers) and that actually, primary school teachers work damn hard. Probably.

In truth, I haven’t had the freedom of a six-week stretch of summer holidays since I was 13. The holidays between leaving middle school and going up to the scary high school were bookended by a week at an aunt’s and a week with a friend at her grandparents’. In the middle was the heaven of other people’s horses, sea and sand; days of fresh-air tiredness, of appetites sharpened by salty air and satisfied by guilt-free fish and chips.

After that, my summer holidays were spent working. I worked in a green grocer’s, where I learned to count the correct change into people’s hands; I worked in shop, where I learned it was politic to wait until the foul-smelling person left before blasting the air freshener; I worked in a chippy, where I learned to tell the difference between haddock and cod; I worked in an hotel, where I learned chefs enjoy a pint and making a mess, but are far too important to clear up after themselves.

Overall, I learned that, like children, I’m not overly keen on tourists and the service industry was not for me. I learned that if wanted something more out of life, I’d better get me an education. Then one day, pallid, indoor teenagers may be waiting on me as I enjoyed my moment in the sun.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The boys of summer

The Boys’ Brigade has arrived. Each year, the appearance of rows of old-fashioned green and white tents and the accompanying larger communal marquees encamped in a field along the coast road seems to sound the starting gun for summer. The boys are different every year but the pattern of their two-week visit doesn’t change: football on the school field, marching with trumpets and drums down the main street on Sunday, and gaggles of teenage girls tracking their movements in the hope of bagging themselves a Scottish summer love.

That’s one of the beauties of growing up in a coastal village that gathers more that its fair share of tourists: the boys of summer. Girls, eagerly awaiting the fresh talent that will arrive in holiday cottages and bed and breakfasts, head off to summer jobs in cafes and shops beneath extra coats of mascara and lip-gloss. Some blush when they have to serve the object of their desire, others flirt brazenly. Later, they meet up in the amusement arcades, then walk hand-in-hand along the beach.

I never had a fancy for a Boys’ Brigader but I shared the anticipation of romance as the school year died and the six-week holiday beckoned. It is more than half a lifetime ago, but one fortnight-long affair remains vivid. I wore pink eyeshadow and a yellow Frankie Says Relax T-shirt. He cut a deep hole into the arm of a wooden bench with a penknife while he waited for me one evening. For years, I would remember him and smile when I walked by that seat. He wrote me a ‘I really do like you’ note on a postcard and passed it surreptitiously across the counter of the shop where I worked. When he returned home to Kent, we wrote and he would ring each fortnight on a Friday. My mum thought he was “nice”.

But when you’re 15 and mobile phones haven’t been invented, distances are insurmountable and affairs fizzle out; boys at school suddenly start to grow up and become more interesting. Summer loves are packed into memory boxes, to be taken out occasionally and smiled over, like sepia photographs. Wistfully, you wonder where they are now….

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spin cycle

“Just imagine,” said a mummy-type colleague today, “what life would have been like with children – and no washing machine.”

”What about mothers before washing machines were invented?” asked another. “What about the Victorians?”

“They had servants,” I said confidently. (When I say things like this, my mum generally gives me an arch look and asks: “Where did you come from?”)

“But what about the poor ones?”

“They would have smelled,” I said. “They didn’t have baths as often as us, they didn’t wash their clothes as often – and they didn’t have deodorant.”

Smelling bad must have been a hazard of Victorian life. You look at the heavy fabrics they wore and imagine how hot they became. Imagine riding a horse or playing tennis in a crinoline – and a corset. No wonder they were always fainting: probably when someone lifted their arm above shoulder level.

Although they had rudimentary washing machines, washday was only a weekly occurrence. Ditto bath time. No wonder women didn’t start wearing knickers until relatively recently.

Life without a washing machine or life without deodorant: which do you reckon would be worst?

Monday, July 16, 2007


I didn’t think I was particularly unhappy. OK, so I don’t bound around with Labrador-like enthusiasm all day, but nor do I spend my free time in darkened rooms listening to Leonard Cohen.

The feel-good emotion appeared today in many forms: the yellow lilies I bought for my mum; the cats’ purred greetings when I arrived home; the golden-bodied, gauzy-winged dragonfly; the touch of the Grey Mare’s velvet muzzle and smell of her silken neck; the officer of the law, head back, mouth open, snoozing in his car where the dual carriageway of the A1 funnels into one. He made me laugh out loud: the ultimate sleeping policeman.

Admittedly, there were also annoyances: the persistent overnight rain that left pools on the road (dried up now); the person I had arranged to interview who put me off until tomorrow; the fact that god-awful Umbrella song is still No1. Minor irritations really; certainly insufficient to plunge me into a deep depression.

That’s what I thought anyway, at least until I took the Happy Planet Index test. Apparently, I am below the international, UK and female happiness average. I am on a par with people from Burkina Faso (I suppose I might be rather perturbed if I lived in a place where I couldn’t pronounce the capital city). My life expectancy is also below average. Is it because I live alone, in a shock, horror, terraced house? Perhaps I should have marked extra boxes for the cats.

Then I looked below the headlines and realised something didn’t quite add up. The results advised me to stop smoking (I’d ticked the box saying I was an ex-smoker) and take more exercise – I’d marked the ‘I take exercise five to seven times’ a week option, the maximum in the survey (horses don’t look after themselves, you know).

It would seem the little person sitting in cyberspace marking these surveys wasn’t reading the responses properly: either that or they were trying to turn their predictions of doom and gloom into self-fulfilling prophecies. Perhaps I won’t spend the evening sitting crying on the kitchen floor, after all.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Up, up and away ...

When I was a child, we mainly holidayed in Scotland. I didn’t actually leave these shores until I was 18 – and then it was by boat. Lift-off didn’t happen until I was in my early 20s and working in a radio newsroom.

I was rather delighted, if a little nervous, therefore when an invitation to join the RAF Falcons parachute display team at the local air show arrived on the editor’s desk and I got the gig. My first experience of flying was in a noisy Hercules, piloted by chaps who spoke evah so naicely. The display team members were lean but not mean, and harnessed we observers to the side when they dropped the plane’s immense back door and leapt out into the wild blue yonder. I was given a headset and went to the flight deck (not cockpit) to watch them, before the plane climbed then dived at a frightening rate of knots to swoop along the coastline and elicit gasps of awe from the crowd on the ground. My gasps, however, were of agony: I had never encountered ear popping before. The professionals handed out tiny cans of pop and boiled sweets. Sipping and sucking are supposed to alleviate the pain.

I had another interesting airborne experience at another radio station. As I finished an early shift, the engineer asked if I fancied flying to Bristol with him to collect some equipment. As he was a former RAF officer whose nickname was Wing Commander, I had no qualms climbing into the two-seater plane. Fingers of fear, however, began to prod my intestines when he sat with a book on his knee checking the instruments before we took off. I didn’t think much of his chances of getting us up – and more importantly down – if he had to consult a manual. Later I discovered that he hadn’t been a pilot in his previous life, but an RAF engineer.

My best flight, however, was in a balloon. There is something truly magical about floating along in a big wicker basket with the roar of the burners above you and people enjoying the sunlit evening below. Voices and laughter drifted up through the warm air like a lullaby; children shouted and waved; feeling like Phileas Fogg, I waved regally back. This was one experience that truly deserves the accolade of awesome. I returned to earth with a bump though: the balloon landed, the basket tipped over and the pilot’s binoculars smacked me smartly on the back of the head.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I have secretly been coveting one of these pink badges for some time; I have felt like I did at primary school when everyone had superballs and I had to wait until the weekend for mum to get me one. A week is a long time when you're seven.

Now, however, I am replete: the lovely Keir Royale, with whom I share a background in broadcasting and an appreciation of David Bowie, has made me very happy by bestowing a Rockin' Blogger award upon me.

I am passing the honour on to Rilly Super and Gill - because they both give me the giggles.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A load of bull

The bull in a field near my house lives like a sultan, surrounded by his many wives and children. He is immense: his enormous, disproportionate neck dwarfs his not inconsiderable back end, where the business side of things dangles dangerously between his legs. He has a chestnut coat stippled with star-shaped dapples and nostrils pierced by a huge brass-coloured ring. Despite the trappings of his position, I believe he is a benevolent despot; the atmosphere in his kingdom is invariably relaxed.

Last year, some of the girls fed him handfuls of grass over the gate. Surrounded by curious calves, he took the offerings and chewed with a look of contemplation. Later, he chivvied his children along, curling his lip like a horse when they stopped to pee. I think he is probably a good and patient father.

In the winter, he lives in a big hemmel with another similar coloured bull. I see them from the road when the Grey Mare and I pass their farm. He and his companion chew contentedly, whiling away the hours like a couple of old blokes sitting on a park bench.

I think bulls, have on the whole, an undeserved reputation. But I can’t help feeling ever so slightly wary. My reaction is coloured by being chased by one when I was very small, and from a passage in my favourite pony book, Ruby Ferguson’s Rosettes for Jill. Our heroine and her pony Rapide find themselves in a field with an angry bull; the only way out is to jump a giant hedge. A bull, Jill informs her readers, may ignore someone on foot but will generally chase a horse. I have once ridden through a field containing a bull. He didn’t bat an eyelid.

The chestnut chap’s disposition is similar. When I climbed the gate to cut across his field the other night, his children scattered; slowly, he raised his huge head and observed the stranger in his midst, before returning to the more important task of grazing. Still, I remained close to the fence. Just in case.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Something old

I am spying signs for summers fayres and fetes everywhere at the moment. They spell homemade cakes, fudge and jam – and jumble. I love jumble: rooting through other people’s cast-offs is great fun. I am not proud when it comes to second hand items. Perhaps I should say pre-owned, pre-loved or even vintage, because somewhere along the way, the act of buying someone else’s clobber received an image makeover and new price tags to match.

As teenagers, a friend and I would buy men’s jackets, jumpers, shirts and waistcoats from the second hand shop in the village. I was enthralled by the slightly musty smell, the knowledge I was wearing something that had a history and the fact it was different to the identikit clothes in the mainstream shops. I was also pleased with the prices: babysitting money didn’t go far when you had a pony to keep as well.

When I went to university, second hand student chic was everywhere. In those days, the word vintage wasn’t yet being bandied about and you could still buy 1950s and 60s clothing for affordable prices. There were clothes stalls every week at the students’ union and little niche shops in town selling old Levi’s 501s, waistcoats, suede jackets and other wonderful stuff. I bought a loud printed 50s skirt with a starched underskirt and a dinner jacket, which still had a first class London rail ticket in the pocket. They went well with my platinum bleached hair, scarlet lipstick and elbow length white gloves.

Over the years I have picked up some marvellous things: I have a 1960s butter-soft brown suede jacket that cost all of £3, a three-quarter length fake fur coat of around the same age and an astrakhan swing coat that makes me feel very Jackie O. I have found Jaeger jumpers for a couple of quid and I can’t remember the last time I bought a new pair of jeans. I can’t pass a charity shop without going in.

The T-shirt, cardigan and shoes I wore to work today were second hand; only my skirt and underwear were new. Even I draw the line at other people’s knickers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Of wrinkles, rabbits and roadshows

'Watch the mirror, count the lines,
The battle scars of all the good times'

So sang Soft Cell. It’s Marc Almond’s birthday today, too; I wonder if he feels old? I certainly do after a weekend of carousing: out for a meal on Friday, out to make the repeated acquaintance of Mr Gordon’s and Mr Bombay Sapphire on Saturday, then rounded off with a barbeque (of course it rained) on Sunday.

I need a weekend off to get over my weekend. I just can’t take the pace anymore. I don’t know how I ever did. At one point, going out three nights in a row would have signified a good time; now it signifies that a week of early nights is in order if I want to catch up on my beauty sleep and forestall any more on those insidious wrinkles.

The most bizarre thing about my weekend, however, was the taxi ride home on Saturday night. We climbed into a car with an avowed killer: our driver’s day job was in vermin control. He claimed to own more than 35 ferrets. Apparently they don’t smell if you clean them out every morning.

I spend much of my time avoiding rabbits when I’m driving. The taxi driver, however, spent most of the time trying not to avoid them. I postulated that knocking them down on purpose wasn’t really very fair. On the contrary, he responded, he was doing them a favour: the ones he knocked down had myxomatosis. How he could tell in the dark, while driving, I don’t know. I certainly couldn’t: maybe I should eat more carrots instead of giving them all to the Grey Mare, or it could be that my age is beginning to tell on my eyesight.

The Antiques Roadshow is in Alnwick tomorrow. Perhaps I should take myself along …

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The lore of the road

My driving instructor was a strange little chap: we couldn’t start my lesson until The Archers had finished (in case it affected my concentration); he could smoke and I couldn’t (ditto). “You drive like you live your life,” he told me once. I took it as a compliment.

But I remember him most for introducing me to the rudiments of the lore of the road. “Beware of Volvo drivers,” he cautioned, “they think they own the road.” The father of my boyfriend of the time drove a Volvo and perfectly satisfied the stereotype. Saab drivers were to be given a wide berth too: “Their cars are built like tanks so they’re not too bothered if they hit you.” I quickly learnt that BMW drivers (especially those in black cars) were part of the same clique.

Today, Audi drivers appear to have adopted the mantle. There seem to be more Audis on the road: they always used to be aspirational motors that were confined to the affluent. Either Audis have come down in price or people are buying cars out of their class. They certainly don’t show many manners. They think nothing of pulling out in front or cutting you up. For such expensive cars, I find it quite curious that most don’t have indicators fitted as standard.

In that respect, they are almost on a par with the kings of the indicator avoiders – the boy racers. It seems to be a badge of honour – along with fat exhausts that look like empty baked bean tins and a mind-numbing bass beat that they nod to like the Churchill dog – to turn off or pull out without signalling their intention to other people on the road.

I spend two hours commuting, five days a week. I have developed a very thick skin and can string together whole lists of expletives in a most artistic manner. Audi and BMW drivers, I have found, are especially good at tailgating you at 80mph. I don’t move. If they flash their lights, my foot involuntary removes itself from the accelerator. I am also quite handy at gesticulating and blasting the horn. “Once you’ve found the horn,” says one of my colleagues, “you never forget where it is.” She’s so right.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hare, there and everywhere

“They’re the size of foxes,” said my friend as we sat on our horses watching a pair of hares gallop away across the field. Not only are they large in size, this year’s crop of hares are large in number. They appear to have been breeding, ahem, like rabbits…

Hares are the stuff of folklore and fable. They are touched by magic. People used to believe witches transformed themselves into hares to escape capture. In Precious Bane, Prue Sarn’s mother believes her daughter was born with a harelip because one ran in front of her while she was pregnant. At sea, fishermen consider the word ‘hare’ unlucky. In The Wicker Man, the grave of the supposedly missing Rowan is occupied by a hare …

They are shy and secretive creatures. Like partridges, they wait until the last possible moment to flee - which can lead to some very hairy moments when they suddenly bolt from beneath your cantering horse’s hooves. Once the Grey Mare and I were idling along, neither of us with our minds in the here and now, when I was transfixed by a large, unusual stone. Suddenly, it shot off across the field, rudely jolting us both out of our reverie.

Elegant, enigmatic and supreme athletes, hares are amazing to watch. They are speed and grace, bodies designed to sprint. Apparently, you can now buy pet hares to keep in a hutch. I find that rather objectionable: it would be like locking Raphael Nadal in a broom cupboard.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Music for the Millennium

I am not a member of the iPod generation. I like my music to be more touchable and tangible; I like CDs, I like cassettes, I like vinyl. I have music in abundance in all of these mediums.

The fact that ‘virtual’ music on a computer can just disappear when the mood takes it was graphically illustrated to me when my computer died and had to be resurrected a few months ago. But it’s more than that: I like to look at album sleeves, read the notes and see the case sitting on the shelf along with its compatriots. I like the smell of vinyl records. I like the car compilation tapes I have made over the years.

I bought three albums on eBay over the weekend for miniscule amounts to replace some rather ropey tapes that are near the end of their useful lives and would probably – in their wisdom – allow themselves to be eaten by the stereo. But the problem with Internet shopping is that you don’t receive immediate gratification. I can understand why downloading tunes appeals in this context, but I want CDs with cases.

What we need is someone clever to invent a transforming machine, where the seller could load the item in at their end, and send it through the ether to the recipient’s machine. Something like the Flue Powder or Portkeys utilised by Harry Potter. If I’m not mistaken, the Americans have secretly been able to do something of this sort for decades ….

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A night at the races

I returned from Friday’s night at the races with a cold, blisters on my feet and a lighter purse. The cold and blisters were, I believe, caused by my pursuit of glamour despite the intemperate weather. The lighter purse was due to a number of factors, including gin, Pimm’s and having to buy my own ticket.

I don’t normally pay to go racing on the night before the Northumberland Plate – my mate usually provides me with free tickets. Somewhere along the line, we managed to cross our wires and he got me tickets for Plate Day itself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to go racing two days in a row – especially with jugs of Pimm’s (or should I say jugs of fruit and ice with a trickle of Pimm’s) costing £15 a shot. One of my friends was determined to drink champagne because she felt her usual pint wouldn’t complement her dress; she saw the price of the champers and stuck to lager.

Jump racing is my sport of choice, so each time I go to a flat meeting, I am bowled over by the Munchkin-esque stature of the jockeys. I am not terribly tall and I did have 3.5in heels on, but these guys barely reached my shoulder. I wonder how many of them are the equivalent of a female size zero and how many eating disorders are hidden under the brightly coloured silks? I wonder if the thrill of galloping home ahead of the opposition makes it worth missing your dinner. I contemplated this as I paid for my Indian takeaway on the way home.