Monthly Archives: August 2015
Measuring a decade in horse races is a funny thing to do but that’s what happened earlier this week. I was scrabbling around in my mind for the name of a fetching horse from Australia who won the Juddmonte International at York in 2005 and then won the Dubai World Cup the following spring from the so-called ‘coffin draw’.
Ten years ago, on the day of the Juddmonte, my children were three and one, and I was visiting my sister who lived in Forest Hill, South London, where I managed to watch the race. I probably walked down to the local William Hill to place a bet on the horse as well, if I didn’t arrive already clutching my winning slip.
The horse was called Electrocutionist and everything was well with the world on that day as he crossed the line narrowly in front.
The following year Electrocutionist died at home from a heart attack. Looking back at some of his hard-fought victories I can see a very tired horse crossing the line. So in hindsight, all was not well with him, even when he was winning. If that’s not a metaphor for life, then I don’t know what is.
I am glad to remember him. Sad too. It seems many of the best ones often give of their all until its too late (thinking Rooster Booster, Persian Punch, Best Mate).
I just watched a documentary film called ‘Dark Horse’ about a jump racehorse called Dream Alliance. I don’t have the stomach for the fences myself these days, but I remembered the horse’s name and that he had a fetching back story.
The film has stirred me up alright, in the way a proper film should. The hero is a bonny chestnut, with a white blaze and proper socks. His supporting cast are his breeder, Jan, and his owners from a Welsh mining village and it is their stories that make the film.
I won’t spoil it with details – watch it if you can. It’s a deft piece of film-making. A light touch that hits a seam of gold.
It’s certainly left me wondering. One such wonder is this: is it the obstacles we overcome in life, the finish lines we cross, the glory we dream of covering ourselves in that matters? Or is it the quiet standing in the field at the end of the day, when you are almost gone, but not quite forgotten, indistinguishable from most of all the rest?
The beauty of the racehorse is that we don’t even need to ask the question. They take us places outside our experience; with a horse in our lives we can soar the heights and plumb the depths (sometimes within split seconds) but at the end of the day, there is always a field.
What is it with insect bites? And are they are all mosquitoes (or is it mosquitos), or other bewinged, bitey things?
And why is it the rule that if you make all the effort to go on holiday, just about the first thing that happens is that you get bitten. Of course, the saying goes, bitten to death, but I have not at all been bitten to death, although I have managed to garner at least six unattractive red bites, plus one suspected one on my forehead.
I’ve had the hot spoon out this morning and applied it with vigour, so the itching has receded, but the fact that I got bitten at all is still trying to ruin my day (if not my life). My adult, pre-frontal cortex brain is telling me to get a grip, so what, no big deal. But my childlike brain is wailing that what we should really do is lie down and die in a corner because there’s just no point carrying on when one is literally covered in insect bites.
If only I could holiday with just my adult brain, and not the child one, life would be so much more worth living. Today’s task: Project Pull Yourself Together.
In the meantime, the actual adult of the party has bought flypapers galore which are currently festooned around the kitchen. Perhaps this low tolerance is genetic.