Monday 29 September 2008

Her compliments to the chef?

There are four horses in the garden at the moment, dobbing around, existing four-leggedly. They get put there by the farmer who owns them and are expected to cut the grass – which they do. So that’s good. (Effortlessly green, too, which makes me feel more than a little holy.)

He only gave me a couple of horses, initially, which seemed sufficient and fair. The other two, however, kept busting out of his field and coming to my garden to see their friends. They’d stand, nuzzle-jabbering, on either side of the thin, electrified wire, and so, to quell any uprising or horsey revolution, he bunged them into the garden, as well. So we have four horses.

But now the farmer’s donkey comes visiting. Every night, around about eleven, he clumps up to the wire, says hello to the horses, and then sets about eating anything that doesn’t move (chairs, wing mirrors, fence posts, blankets). He’ll do this for a few hours before going back to the wire to sleep a few feet from the horses (who make a point of ambling over to be near him). These people – you know what I mean – are very clearly loving friends and it’s brilliant and magic.

Even though they’re not mine, I feel very proud of them. I think it would even be nice to have people come round to admire these horses once in a while and say nice things to me about them. I can imagine being reluctant to admit that they don’t actually belong to me and can see myself using evasive half-answers to avoid the revelation.

Stranger: These are very fine horses, Sir, you must be proud to own them.
Me: They are beautiful, aren’t they? It’s a joy to have them in the garden.

That sort of thing. And in an ideal world, I suppose, it would be Gregory Peck (as Atticus Finch) and Tim Roth (as Tim Roth) and a French woman, say, in her forties or fifties, smoking, swaying, knowing – it would be these people who stopped by my fence to admire the horses.

Finch: These are very fine horses, Sir.....
Roth: You must be so proud to own them.
French Woman: What have I ever done to make you think that you can charm me?
Me: You three – what are you like! Come on inside to the kitchen and let’s talk about this over some nice hot sex.

Where was I? Yes, but the thing about the horses, really, is that they poo all over the place. Munch, poo, munch, munch, poo. I don’t mind, because I’ve nothing against horse poo. These beasties only ever eat grass, anyway – I’m necessarily leaving donkey-hoover out of this equation - and so what’s to fear from their faeces? I maintain this line of reasoning, too, when I see my dog eating the stuff. But I have my limits.

I’ve been disastrously ill these past few weeks and have consequently had every opportunity to lie very still, in a killing, cramping fever, watching Emma eat industrial quantities of plab in the garden. (Please - no need for wreaths and tears, I'm recovering well.)

I don’t mind that she eats horse poo, like I say, but I do find myself minding that she seems to actively savour it. I mean, she settles down and eats mounds of the stuff, half closing her eyes (in the manner of a middle class person in an art gallery) and then delicately, methodically and appreciatively, she picks her way through whole mountains of glooprified shame. 

Grimly sated, she’ll bound into the house to lick my face (and like some open-eyed coma victim, unable to move, I barely have the strength to say “I’ve never felt less proud of you, Emma”) before trotting back outside for a suspiciously similar-looking dessert, as the horrified horses look on. Unstylish barely covers it.

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