Having returned to the saddle after an absence of, let me see, about forty years, you can imagine that I would want to herald said return with only a small amount of fanfare. I hadn’t wanted to look like a Happy Hacker but more one of the Labrador and Volvo Set and throw my leg over a very trust steed without much ado. A certain coolness and confidence needed to be maintained. It would appear I had now lost the slightly sniffy look of the Bloomsbury Set and become, once again, a member of the Bunty Club…. and whilst I don’t have a musket or fancy hat, I do seem to have adopted a sort of military swagger when I wear my jodhpurs very similar to those of a republican guard in Napoleons time. Oh, if only!
The riding, however, especially without stirrups, is doing wonders for my core muscles, or so my riding buddy tells me. She has had a bad back and several knee operations and swears by the jolting up and down in the saddle without stirrups. She even rode close to me conspiratorially this afternoon and mentioned that it was also superb for pelvic floor muscles, should I have any problems ” down below”….and she coughed knowingly. I didn’t know if the cough was to show she could still do that without wetting the saddle or because she now deemed me part of the Inner Circle. I daresay, I shall have to wait and see. However when I asked her how long she had been riding for, she told me, with a certain air of defiance that it was about three years and she was hoping to be able to gallop soon. Yes, as I said, a load of Happy Hackers….
It has been fun and I certainly do seem to have more toned muscles and if nothing else, what could be more invigorating than a hack across the Downs with a Force 9 blowing right at you from the Channel, or, if I am wearing my Napoleonic riding gear, blowing up from La Manche!!
Stumbling swiftly off the saddle and re booking for next week…. yes it is a hobby I intend to pursue, I rush off for a late lunch with Mary. Now Mary needs careful handling for lots of reasons. One is that she is currently, not only between husbands but between lovers which means that she is slightly short of attention. This in turn makes her demanding and petulant, so I didn’t want to be too late otherwise I fear she would have thrown down her napkin, rather like a gauntlet and stalked off back to her home without further ado. Ado seems to be a lot of what Mary’s life is about. Not having had children either, makes her, in my opinion, Bat Shit Crazy. In fact when I met her originally at the Supper Club, she immediately starting hitting on lovely Clive, my dinner partner. No social etiquette there, I thought! Clive, however sat beside me with a very amused grin across his face and before we had even got through the beetroot cous cous, she had turned to him and asked if I was his wife. Both Clive and I found this funny, not simply because she was looking for a single man at a Book Supper which was 85% female but because she hadnt clocked that Clive was gay and had not the slightest interest in her . She wouldnt have it though and once they had formed a bond and squabbled over who would have the last chocolate praline ( naturally, she took it!) as well as established that they had both danced ( naked ??) in “HAIR” all those years ago on a London Stage, a friendship seemed to have been forged and he took pity on her status. Clive however confirms that she is really only slightly bonkers and that was. He debated her virtues on the way home ( luckily, he doesn’t live far away so I didn’t need to listen to the monologue for long) and felt her behaviour was due to her getting her own way far too often with previous loves and husbands, regardless of whether she has given birth or not. Mary advocates everyone rising at 7am and running a bath of aromatherapy oils and then doing twenty minutes of “Mindfulness”. When my other slightly batty friend but ever so lovely and with children announced that she couldn’t do that in the mornings to calm her mind, Mary gave her a scornful glance and told her that was what she had a husband for and she only needed to ask him to look after the children; make the packed lunch and let the dog out before he pooped in the garden and so, ” what was the problem?”
All of this was when we were on a sojourn to Charleston Farmhouse with a couple of other girlies and I didn’t want it to get into a battle. Mary is very opinionated and does rather squash opinions and views of others. In fact I am wondering about the benefits of any friendship with her, because as well as the careful managing by Clive and I, she declares that she wont go anywhere now with us if The Peeps accompanying are boring or suburban. Its rather difficult to define what she means exactly by ” boring” because obviously she is basing upon what she deems boring or exciting but if you are a person ( like Mary) who buys a proportion of her wardrobe from Phrase8, then I guess her idea of excitement would be an upgrade to LKBennett shift dress and matching coat.
Meanwhile just as I was getting involved in a rather good book, an email pinged in from The Pilot. Said “undesirable” having removed himself from UK and building a life in darkest Africa wrote to say that he had met ” Annie” and having shared a bottle of water in the Airport Terminal at Malawi with her and agreed on what a wonderful job she was doing “feeding the world” decided to elope together. Okay, its not really an elopement but he told me the wedding was on and if I could get a flight to Abracadabra ( Addis Ababa) I would be welcome in the rather select Wedding Party. As The Pilot has always been rather oblique in his written references, I immediately knew that he would want me to believe Annie was one step short of being Mother Teresa when he said she ” fed the world” but if I really thought about it, it was probably a reference to her being a Hostie and pushing her beverage trolley up and down the gangway. Yes ” feed the world” can mean such a variety of things…… He also would rather like the idea of being an Ex Pat somewhere hot and sticky and with a few dozen “staff” paying homage. Indeed living anywhere north of the equator simply wouldn’t suit his personality, one little bit and if he could recreate anything like “Happy Valley”, somewhere in the world, I do believe he would! As they say… “there must be something in the (purified) water. I pressed the delete button on the email and went on with my day! Tally Ho….