I went out with a member of the Sealed Knot once

The reason for exposing this hitherto undeclared piece of information is entirely due to having just watched the funny/infuriating period/modern day film ‘Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story’ of which more later; maybe.

The subtitle for this piece should be ‘Infuriation‘.

Insert parental advisory warning about possible strong language here.

I am bloody infuriated.

I’m reading ‘All Fun and Games until Someone Loses an Eye’ by Christopher Brookmyre.

And it’s infuriating.

How – no, go on, answer the bloody question f’crissake – how on bloody hell’s earth is it possible for Mr Brookmyre (a Scotsman, by all that is wholly! And yes, I deliberately used the ‘W’ word!) to be such a bloody good bloody good (I know I said it twice!) bloody writer?


How is it possible?

Driving back from today’s combined training competition (of which perhaps more another time) I find my head full of Brookmyre-esque catch-phrases.

The trouble is he’s already bloody thought of them.


But the thing is…

He’s such a bloody clever writer.

Not in a devious, manipulative way (though he is a devious and manipulative writer, but just not on the same level of cleverness that his authorship inhabits because his authorship is on a whole higher level).

I mean an intelligently clever writer.

He has the gift of capturing the zeitgeist in effortless prose.

Anyway, as we drove back The Lovely S looked at me and said ‘Brookmyre’s really inspiring you isn’t he?’


I don’t know why he’s inspiring me (I know I could never even get close to sharpening his pencils) but yes, yes, yes, yes, yes – he is.

So I declared, ‘What we need to do is come up with some Brookmyreish turns of phrase.’

Time passed – not much, but a little.

And we spoke similar thoughts aloud at the same time about – strangely – the same previously undiscussed topics.

I giggled and announced ‘We’re having a Bluetooth moment’.

Really zeitgeisty, eh?

I love that phrase – but you can’t have it.

I’ve copyrighted it, registered it and trademarked it – not the word Bluetooth, I mean the whole phrase, ok?

It’s mine.

Anyway since the groundbreakingly historical moment of me coining a phrase to sum up the here and now that our early 21st Century zeitgeist truly is…

Since then.

We did lots of things at the yard.

We stopped off at McDonalds drive-through for a milkshake and McFlurry each (what can I say? It’s hot and we were both very dehydrated).

Then we retired wickedly to bed (it was 18.00) where various things occurred – including the watching of the aforementioned ‘Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story’.

OK, now for that film.

I’m not going to do a full crit of it.

But it was funny.

And also infuriating.

But there was a scene in it in which a gang of period-costumed extras (led by the side-achingly funny Rob Brydon) charge across an open field in the dead of night while the dark is lit by coloured flares.

Flip back a number of years to the time I went out with a member of the Sealed Knot.

Should I add at this point that it was a girl? Or that we went out once before – at the end of the evening – we agreed upon a divorce based on historical incompatibilities?

I’ve only just realised that I’m wittering on about period pieces and the current photo in the header of this blog contains an image of me in a different kind of period costume!

Anyway, knowing just a little about the period I asked what activities the re-enactment females got up to while the re-enactment chaps all ran around pretending to be musketeers or pikemen or poachers or NCP car-park attendants or whatever.

‘Oh, we girls just stand around and gossip or sit around and knit and gather leaves and wood for fires. The more adventurous skin rabbits.’


I wonder what the infuriatingly clever Christopher Brookmyre would have to say about such oddball behaviour?

He’d probably think about it for 2.48383325954 nanoseconds before making an acidly burning observation that compared yesteryear’s domestic drudgery with today’s slogging up and down aisles in Sainsbury looking for the right kind of toilet cleaner.



Half man, half couch…


* Drove The Lovely S to work, then to the yard

* Groomed Beech then turned him out in a very small paddock

* Got Vin in, groomed him, tacked him up (dressage saddle)

* Schooled Vin (flatwork concentrating on transitions and balance for tomorrow’s competition)

* Untacked, groomed then turned him out

* Cleaned his bridle

* Cleaned his dressage saddle

* Cleaned his show-jumping saddle, then

* Retired to the horsebox living accommodation with a hot chocolate and a good book

* Fell asleep

* Woke up after 45 minutes

* Drank cold hot chocolate

* Got Beech in, groomed him again

* Came home

* Got changed

* Made hot chocolate and a sandwich

* Sat on the couch to read

* Fell asleep (again)

* Woke up

* Drank cold hot chocolate (IYSWIM) and ate sandwich

* Washed up

* Went shopping at Morrisons

* Drove to The Lovely S’s workplace, picked her up

* Drove home

* Prepared tea

* Cooked tea

* Loaded the OU software on my laptop

* Served, ate, washed up and now I’m sitting here

* Watching the hilariously deluded and sadly talentless in the first round of The X Factor

* Too tired to move

* Wondering why I’m so tired these days.


The Lovely S has just come in to the lounge.

Wearing one of my shirts and nothing else.

Starting to feel perky again.



Beech (and) leg (and) vet (and) broken (and) not!

Jess rang this evening.

I missed the call (don’t touch the phone while I’m driving), but the voicemail she left said that she’s chuffed with today’s x-rays.

There’s no sign of the fracture now and we can begin a programme of gradually increasing his turnout so that in a couple of weeks he can be out 24/7.

And then we can begin slow and gradual exercise.

Yay for Beech.


I’m going to bed in a minute

Yes, I know it’s 04.00; I’ve been up for an hour, lurching around the internet in a zombie-like state.

I guess I’ve been sleeping awkwardly; my body seems to have woken me just so that I can unknot my back. When I tried to get out of bed the first time my lower lumber region felt painful and unyielding; I thought I’d slipped a disc. Not so, happily, just as stiff as a board – either due to tension or exposure to cold.

Having made the effort to walk about a bit to free things up I’ve tried to be productive while I’m awake; emails have been sent to a couple of people (Allan Guthrie – a member of our author’s mailing list – congratulating him on winning the Theakston’s prize; Ian – friend and former colleague – congratulating on him making a massively – good but disconserting – career move; Lesley – old time friend in Docklands – catching up).

A couple of other emails have been drafted (mostly to Ruth but one to Hellen) but I’m too tired to check them so they won’t go out until they can be reviewed.

I picked up ‘The Wide Sargasso Sea’ but realised my brain’s nowhere near awake enough to tackle that.

And then I did some suppling exercises to try and unknot my spine.

WTF was I up to in my sleep to acquire a spine-and-muscle- config that resembles a thing as flexible as an oak dining table?

I hope it was worth it.

It’s Friday tomorrow (today), and the start of a Bank Holiday weekend; I need to try and leave work as early as I can – Bank Holiday traffic avoidance!

Saturday needs to be a Vin-schooling, tack cleaning and Beech walking-out-in-hand day.

On Sunday Vin and I are doing two combined training classes at Allenshill.

And on Monday I might be taking The Lovely S down to the Cotswolds to go gliding.

We’ve also talked about getting film no. 2 of the Bourne series from Blockbuster.

On the strength of these plans the weekend promises to be a good one.

And so to bed.


The grass is greener? Or lemmings? Or rats leaving?

These are interesting questions.

I don’t have the answers – and frankly I don’t think that anyone does.

According to figures released today by University College London (on behalf of MigrationWatch), 130,000 Brits left the UK last year – just for Australia (71,000) and Spain (58,000).

I appreciate there’s a general air around the country that the UK is going downhill fast, but come on folks, surely we can all see that this is an attitude that sparked in to being within Parliament and has been wildly fanned by the British media.

Surely we’ve rumbled by now that keeping a population subjugated by fear is how those in power manage to maintain their power?

It seems to me that we have made a fundamental shift in our governance.

We have moved to top-down democracy instead of bottom-up democracy.

Power no longer comes from the voter; it may have originated there but through our political apathy we have granted total authority to our political parties.

We have now reached the point where we the voters have lost control of the country.

Don’t believe me?

Well how about this…

For the last eight general elections the winning political party that took power was voted against by the majority.

Yep, it’s true.

On a single-party comparison more people chose to vote against the last eight governments than voted for them.

So our democratic power is where?

In the rubbish bin – along with the mandate from the people that our last eight parliaments have claimed they had (but don’t).

Faced with a political system like this and the continued ‘climate of fear’, is it really any wonder if people choose to live elsewhere?


Book review: Out of the Tunnel by Rachel North

The strapline on this books reads:
‘Before and after 7/7: one woman’s extraordinary story’

I have been reading Rachel’s blog for years, and in this small way I feel as though I know her – or feel as though I know something of her.

So when I picked up the book I thought it was going to be difficult to write a dispassionate, objective review.

It wasn’t, it was very easy.

And this is entirely due to Rachel’s relaxed style of writing, her easy narrative and how unafraid she is of facing deeply painful, personal horrors.

The situation surrounding her rape is awful, Rachel’s detachment is exemplary.

And then she is caught up in the 7th of July bombings on the London underground.

Rachel details the events and aftershocks of the two cataclysmic events; her rape and physical assault and the aftermath (both medical, investigative and legal) of the event that occurred when a stranger forced his way in to her flat…

And – is if that wasn’t enough – the event of and aftermath surrounding her involvement on the King’s Cross underground train explosion when it was blown up by Mohamed Siddique Khan on 7/7 (or 7th of July if you speak English rather than American) is very moving.

The author pieces together in a thoughtful, carefully considered manner ‘who-did-what’ (and sometimes ‘who-didn’t-do-what’), and goes six months beyond the bombings to a happier time in her life.

One sad aspect of Rachel’s tale lies outside the harrowing scenes.

The horrendously poor quality of life that she and J endure.

There are a number of examples that go to highlight how poor the quality of their work/life balance is, yet this fact is unremarked upon.

I hope Rachel’s emergence as an author acts as a catalyst for change in this area.

Out of the Tunnel is a well told story brought to us from a gifted, naturally talented writer.

But occasionally she tries just a little too hard and when she does it shows.

In places the book is in need of a bloody good edit – displaying slight signs of tiredness and being occasionally just a little metaphor-heavy.

However I put these minor niggles down to Rachel’s immaturity as a writer; I feel she is so talented that as she grows in to the role she will – as all authors must – become an even better story teller.

But it’s a worthwhile read – for the way Rachel deals with the events in her life and for the example she sets in the way she conducts herself (both as a victim of outrage and in the way she deals with governmental attitude).

Out of the Tunnel by Rachel North.

I look forward to reading many more of her works in the future.


The saddest thing about Big Brother 8…

There are lots of good, bad, high and low events in the 2007 bunch of cnuts Big Brother inmates.

But the saddest thing by far has been exposed by the requirement that housemates read aloud portions of text printed on cards.

Sam and Tracey; they’re at the lowest end of literacy.

Neither of them is a competent, confident, fluid reader.

They stumble over the simplest words.

They are unable to pronounce common words and phrases.

And this, my friends, is the saddest thing about Big Brother 8.

That our schools – and the teachers in those schools and the parents of these children who attend these schools – are happy to produce young adults to a standard of education that third-world countries surpased a decade ago.

That’s the really sad thing about Big Brother 8.


Let’s have another go…

Fresh from our gloriously non-competitive outing at The Deer Park on Sunday it’s time for another go…

This Sunday there’s another combined training competition at Allenshill – Prelim 7 this time.

So Vinnie and I are entered (isn’t this internet-thingy wonderful?).

We’re going to do two classes.

Punishment and glutton.

The last time Vin and I did P7 we were placed so we’ve got a very tangible target to beat this time – 125 points.


I received a text from Sue at the yard this morning to say that Beech is having his (hopefully final) x-ray on Wednesday.

Fingers and crossed.


I am NOT a pussy, ok?

We didn’t do the two-phase competition today.

We did go.

‘We’ being The Lovely S, Vinnie (the horse formerly known as ‘muckbucket’) and me.

We just didn’t compete.

The weather and the going were so awful when we arrived that I left it to the last possible moment to decide whether we would compete or not.

And then the decision made itself anyway.

The day went a little like this:

Up at stupid o’clock; stagger and lurch about the house trying to get brain and body talking to each other in the same language instead of one speaking a kind of Serbo-Croatian dialect whilst the other only ‘spoke’ British Sign Language.

Breakfast and morning tea delivered to The Lovely S in bed.

We left the house with the usual things completed and arrived at the yard more or less on time to find…

Well I’m not altogether sure what it was we found.

It was in Vinnie’s field and it looked vaguely Vinnie-shaped but whatever it was it had been hand-sculpted out of Worcestershire’s finest mud.

Then the pile of mud looked at me and made a Vinnie-flavoured whicker so I guessed that my horse had been used as a kind of mould-maker by a group of itinerant countryside mud-sculptors.

I approached the Mud God.  He took one look at the head-collar in my hand and legged it pronto – proving that he wasn’t a mud-sculpture after all!

I tried to approach him again; he ran away further and broke in to a canter around the field.

Hey, I studied military strategy. I know when to withdraw to strategically regroup.

I regrouped.

In the kitchen.

With an apple, a sharp knife and the washing-up bowl.

Then I picked up the head-collar, the apple slices in the washing-up bowl and advanced again on the Mud God.

As soon as I entered the field he spotted the head-collar, trotted and broke in to an effortless canter.

Then he spotted the bowl.

I could almost see the word ‘food’ form in his head.

He did a 90° turn and made straight for me, reducing his speed as he gained on his target.

He skidded to a stop right beside me. I fed him the first slice. Then the second.

But to get his mouth to the third apple slice he had to put his nose in to the head-collar.

I thought: Gotcha!

Back in the wash-down bay it took me almost half an hour to remove the mud.

With Vinnie looking distinctly equine I finished loading the lorry, put him in his stall, put the tail up and drove out of the yard.

A hundred minutes later we arrived at the venue.

Fcuk me it was raining.

Like a couple of soppy (quickly becoming soggy) loons The Lovely S and I walked the cross-country course.  We got back to the lorry soaked.

I was now feeling very edgy about Vin going cross-country in sheeting rain with the take-offs and landings turning to mush.

He’s a green, young lad. At this stage of his development and training I need every experience he has to be good, relaxing and rewarding.

The Lovely S and I had a reviving cup of tea then I inspected the show-jumping. The warm-up take-offs and landings were dire. To compound matters – out on the track the landing after fence one and the take-off over fence two were shocking.

Decision made.

The Lovely S and I had lunch and then I drove us back to Worcestershire.

With Vin back in his field (rugged up!), the lorry cleaned out, back in its bay and oil-level checked we swapped to the car and drove home…

Where we cuddled up on the couch and watched the first of the Bourne films.



This evening we’re watching Big Brother prior to crashing out in bed.

I have to be up early tomorrow to drive to Wiltshire for the start of a new job.

It’s been a disappointing day.

If I’m honest… despite the fact that I was absolutely crapping myself, I really would have liked to have competed today.

But it would have been wrong for Vin.