Sunday, 26 April 2009



I can't even begin to describe how frustrating any kind of interaction with my mother is. Phone call today, the last of maybe seven this morning. I sighed, picked up. Cue several minutes of inconsequential chatter about friends that I don't know/distant relatives. fine, I can cope with that. Several, "how are you?'s that I always find difficult to answer, despite the person asking. If you taught me to answer, "fine, thanks", what do you think my natural fallback is gonna be?

Then a discussion of my friend, who my mother saw in town. How pretty she looked. I agree, yes she is very pretty. Pause. "Oh when the family was round we all looked at pictures of the wedding. It's a shame there weren't any good ones of you." Silence on my end. How am I meant to respond? And I know a therapist or similarly enlightened (and perhaps American) would tell me to express my hurt/anger, but I'm middle-class British ok, we don't verbalize that shit.

I've just gone back up to Uni. As a leaving present, my mum bust into my room proudly waving a young photo of herself. "I look like Matthew (my brother), don't I? It's a shame you take after your dad's side of the family, darling. " A little-too-hard pat on my head, then cue exit.

As I said, AAGGHHH.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

a couple of pictures

My photo albums on my computer really do define me to a tee. These are taken about two years ago. They combine a night out in Mayfair, in one of the most glamorous restaurant/clubs I've ever been to (espresso martinis - SO good), and then shots of my chinchillas (sold, sadly, due to university) how cute are they?!

story for mugwump

So on my feed, I have blogs that I subscribe to, and would encourage others to do the same. One of these is 'mugwump chronicles', a blog so thoughtfully, humorously and poignantly written that I can't believe the writer is unpublished. When there's equestrian writers like that out there, it really makes you wonder how all these ridiculous series like 'The Saddle Club' keep plugging away.
I wrote a feature for the 'wordy wednesday' - tell me what you think of it

There's a quote in Virginia Woolf's Orlando, a quote which I would willingly tattoo onto myself if only I had the space. 'For what more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment? That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side and the future on another...'. This quote came to haunt me, one sunny afternoon, sitting in an English lecture at University. Whilst the lecturer had been talking, pacing from one side to another, I watched his feet. Half-pass on the right rein, then piaffe; a nervous, jerky step on the spot that made the brown leather of his shoes squeak. Then side-step, side-step, across the diagonal, then a pivot, and on he marched on the opposite rein.

I thought back to two weeks previous. Another Easter, another month at the stables. Becky was moving in with her boyfriend and his kid. They were waiting for the council to allocate them a flat. Maria was married; came down to pawn off her baby to us while she rode her mare. Becky's sister visited, proudly showing us her second child. 'I wanted a girl, but once you know it's hard to feel disappointed.' Nat, after a three month hiatus, was back with our boss' son, staying on site till they found a cheap flat nearby. As we sat, smoking, eating, drinking tea, dogs sniffed around us, playing dead until they had us in fits of laughter and we felt honour bound to give them some crusts. We got up with the dawn, often staying at each-other's houses. Mornings were spent feverishly creating mental lists of things to do, tack to clean, horses to vet. Or, more often than not, hungover, grimly recounting the events of last night whilst clutching cups of tea to our heads. By 8am Becky would slink off to attend to the dogs , and me and Nat would set a goal to finish mucking out.

By ten, itching to ride, chucking the last slabs of hay into boxes and slinging water into buckets, the lunge line would appear and so began the unenviable task of exercising the babies. Razor, an appropriate name considering his huge neck wound, would be done first. A colt, he had quietened considerably after the accident. Syringe, bute, bowl of warm water, paper towels. We would gingerly approach. 'ewwwwww. it's got even more pus than before.' I would try, unsuccessfully, not to look, then watch with fascinated horror as black, crusty scabs and pus were picked off and the wound was drained by catheter. He seemed to take a secret pleasure in being a martyr, enjoying the attention he received from two females. 'Bless your cottons, Raze, you're such a good boy.' Next was Tulip and Levi. Levi, Nat's showjumping prospect, dances around like the goon he is, a swinging trot punctuated by fits of bucking and snorting to worry his owner; 'you'd better not do that while I'm on, Levi.' Tulip, a barbie-esque palomino, quietly accepts her western saddle, always circling the lunge at a floating trot, however hard we try and make her jog. Lighting the first of many Lucky Strikes, we mount, taking the gravel path at a trot and turning right onto the road. As usual, the horses snort in alarm at the motorbike in a driveway they pass every day.

The woods, which will later blaze red and gold at sunset, are a soft green. We stop on occasion, listening for quad bikes or tree-cutters, but mostly let the horses pick their way through the undergrowth. Tulip babyishly climbs the banks, unwilling to muddy her feet in the swamp. Levi, the eternal prankster, hops over logs and randomly breaks into canter. Both washed down, we turn to the next two: DJ, a potential racing arab, and Reg, another jumper. I ride DJ, excitedly jogging on the spot due to a rigorous fitness regime and too many oats. As Reg, a 17hh giant, extends up the hill, I urge DJ on in two-point position, my hands almost by her ears. The ride is fun, filled with laughter. I take most of it at a canter, the incentive to catch up increasened by Nat's endless stories. They are filled with tales of drugged-up horses, shady deals, randy showjumpers. I recognize names I've heard at the World Cup Qualifiers, Hickstead, even the Olympics. I tell her how envious I am. "Well stay here then! You could borrow one of mine, I'll teach you how to jump proper. I reckon you could qualify for 1.10m at Hickstead by the summer."

Back in the lecture room. The sun, instead of energizing me, as it does at the stables, fills me with a leaden sleepiness. I suddenly realize where I am. Surrounded by my own existential crisis, I realize everyone is moving on. Having babies, moving in with boyfriends, starting business ventures. Where am I? What am I doing here, and why? For a terror-stricken ten minutes, thoughts of my road in life, the path of higher education I've taken, the very bad mark I've just received for my essay, and my incredible debt ,flood my brain. Looking down at the quote sheet, I see it. 'The past shelters us on one side, the future on another.' The future. Settled once more, I lean back a little in my chair, letting my mind drift to a world ten years from now, a world populated by huge barns, a cross country course, solariums, horse walkers, and a couple of big, powerful eventers whickering in their boxes. There's still time.

Monday, 20 April 2009

The less-than-glamorous side of polo

Oh, I know Jilly Cooper makes it look glamorous, but think again: polo is full of elitist snobs, nouveau riche wanting to get in with the royals, and unscrupulous oil barons. This partly stems from jealousy, owing to a suspected inability to both carry a heavy wooden mallet and control a 25mph pony in scrums.

click on the link if you can bear the slightly overblown prose of the reporter

Sunday, 12 April 2009

back to reality

Well, this is most definitely the more levin-esque part of my life. For the past month I have got up at 6:45 six days of the week, mucked out twelve stalls a day...I've even fed baby lambs for chrissake. Actually, that last bit makes me sound like Marie Antionette.
How's this: every morning I attend to Razor's neck wound, where another horse kindly left his tooth. The catheter attached to the wound needs to be syringed with warm water, and then I have to PICK OFF THE SCABS AND PUS to keep the wound open. You know when you do something for so long you forget how disgusting it is? (This is my theory for how people can change nappies ten times a day anyway. ) Its like that now. Actually, its like watching a car crash: revolting, but fascinating. I can imagine myself missing it when I go back to University.
I'm trying to remember the name of the novel where people get aroused by car accidents, but the name of it escapes me.

Speaking of novels, I really should read some. The only thing I've read in the last month is 'Think Harmony with Horses', by Ray Hunt. Somehow, don't think thats gonna get me a 2:1.