I am back in London after a period spent at home or staying at the Rowfantina stud, where I now keep two ponies.
I find a lack of phone signal, no 24 hour shopping and delayed deliveries, things others might find stressful, infinitely less so than public transport and the constant fear if I leave the windows open a rat will come around to visit and the newly green streets will see a pigeon shit on my head. Random, perhaps. But true.
Anyway, I arrived home in brilliant sunshine keen for endless days of playing with ponies and catching up with friends.
There were shows, point-to-points, engagement celebrations – not mine, I hasten to add. There was sunburn and a cider-fueled happening upon a party on the sticky carpets of a caravan club called Buttyland. Some of these things I may go into later. But here are three episodes which occurred and which are, for me, typical of life at home.
Day one, I arrived home and Maggie was at work. She had left me a list of ponies to ride. My eyes begged belief, because on that list was Jimmy. Now Jimmy is the love of Maggie’s life. If you were to see him now, you’d see a little, tubby black pony with infinite layers of hair and a grumpy disposition. But if you’d seen him when he’s all done up, ready for shows, at his best, then you’d see an entirely different Jimmy. It’s a little bit like if Brad Pitt let himself go. A lot.
Now Maggie is usually quite exclusive about Jimmy. She keeps him to herself, so I was surprised to see him on my list. He’s newly back in work, so I expected him to be lively and even a little uncivilized. I knew there was potential for naughtiness, but it’s not often that I get to ride an old favourite so….
Going away from home, up the road, he felt vaguely normal. When we got to the field, he got bouncier. I asked him to stand so that I could do up his girth; that strap that holds the saddle in place is kind of vital. As I did so it set a wheel in motion. He reared. As he did so, a large bird shot into the air. I’d like to say that it was a buzzard, or even just a crow. The truth is, I don’t know. Because little Jimmy took full advantage of the excuse to ‘do one’ as fast as he possibly could across the field. I had one hand on the reins and one on my girth, precariously leaning over one side. He took no notice. When I later text Maggie to tell her about his lordship’s escapades, she laughed. I told her that the bit she gave me – bendy soft rubber – might has well have been a puff pastry cased sausage-roll for all it did to stop the little beast. She laughed, heartily and so I’m not entirely sure if she was actually surprised that he had been so naughty, if she was somehow punishing me for my lack of assistance in mucking out over the past few weeks or if she was actually trying to bump me off. Still, I comfort myself that I stayed on board and her attempt at sabotaging my nerves didn’t work. In fact, I was actually closer to falling off from laughter and actually loved the whole episode. It’s good to see Jimmy feeling so well.
Farmer Tim was in his usual good humor cracking out jokes of the usual caliber: cliched. And actually, pretty terrible. The trouble is that they are so terrible, you can’t help but laugh, and this encourages him. Nevertheless, I actually think that two of my favourite episodes of the entire break saw the joke placed resolutely ‘on’ him.
He is pretty attentive to the to-ings an fro-ings of our road. I would argue that a favourite part of his day is stopping traffic to allow his cows to cross the road en route to fresh pastures, and allow him to have a good chat through open windows, greeting the road’s regulars as HIS regulars. Anyway he must have lapsed in his attentions a little. He had noticed the same green van, much like a small horsebox passing regularly. He assumed it to be a horsebox, on account of its colour and the large black horse painted on the side. Baffled, he brought it to the table, asking us over dinner, who had bought a new little horsebox? Were they new to the area? We sat and contemplated. We had no idea. A few days later, we were sat eating lunch. Salad probably. Dad put down his cutlery and put his head in his hands. The little van he had seen so regularly was on the TV. The big black horse and the green van belonged to Lloyds Bank.
He also had a further confession to make. Now usually such tasks as registering himself and Maggie for an appointment with a farm consultant would have fallen to one of the farm’s resident remains. However, this time, he took it upon himself. Maggie was presumably in work. Mum was presumably in work. I was presumably doing something. Though I doubt it was something useful. Anyway, he took it upon himself. He received a confirmation email and so we all congratulated him on having successfully used IT without support. I won’t say electronic or technical, as that would be doing his ability a disservice. But it’s fair to say that IT and FT don’t mix usually.
A few days before said appointment, he received an email with clarification of the minor details, and this is where it transpired that FT had made a mistake.
‘I have a little confession to make,’ he announced over breakfast. We looked up; thinking that this could be interesting. We waited, and on he went.
‘You know that meeting I have booked us? I think I made a boo-boo.’
He explained, bashful. Instead of Tim and Maggie, FT’s gnarled farmer-fingers had fumbled over the keys, and he had registered Tim and Baggy.