Blog Archives

Dark Horses

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.

Back to Basics

Behold: The Dog

His life is pretty basic. My life with him is pretty basic too, until he complicates matters with his hunting instinct as well as his fear-based flight response. It’s a basic life, until he is legging it at twenty-five miles miles per hour after something, or legging it at twenty-five miles mph away from something. Only he and I know the difference.



This is today’s Earth Day 2014 hashtag over on Twitter. Well worth checking out. Here’s my contribution as I try to resume my version of ‘normal’ service round here…


Heather & Slate

Wales v England (woad all round)

There’s not much that takes my fancy telly-wise, so the first match of the Six Nations rugby last night seemed like a bit of treat. I used to watch international games on the box fairly regularly, but either there’s less on free to view tv these days, or I’m not free to view it anyway.

Anway, what Friday night razzamatazz! Leaping flames, smoke flares, loud music, marching bands, flashing lights and the regimental goat: you might have taken it for the Super Bowl two days early (another sport I used to be free to view). The build up was not like rugby at all. Then after the national anthems (and the Welsh have no rivals in this department), they started playing, and then it pretty much looked as it always did. I was a bit worried about the goat, in amongst all the noise and shenanigans, but it seemed to take it in its stride, under the care of the Goat Major.

I don’t have a handle on all the language to give a proper match report; there will be plenty out there for anyone who missed it. At one point one of the commentators said: From these little things (long pause as the brain engaged) Do Big Consequences (even longer pause as word scrabbling became silently frantic) Ensue from them (not quite triumphantly, but with relief to have got a sort of sentence out).

I don’t blame him for tripping over his choice of words, there’s a lot wot goes on a rugby field. Line-outs, rucks, knock ons, into touch, penalties, tries, conversions, field goals, sideways and backwards throwing, forward running and a lot of taking players out hard.

By the end of the match (which England won), most of the players were covered in blue woad which had apparently rubbed off the grass from the sponsors of the match logo. They had blue on their shorts and shirts, blue faces and ears and one of them even had blue teeth. Not a good look, along with the mud and blood and spit and tufts of hair and proliferation of deformed ears. Take a tip from football, or indeed racing and project your logo onto the grass guys. We don’t really want our international rugby stars looking like they’ve been rolling around in a giant ink pad for 80 minutes. It was extra annoying because the sponsors were the Royal Bank of Scotland. Weren’t they one of the banks I bailed out? If you can only afford to paint your logo directly on the grass – I’d say don’t bother.

One player, who left the pitch as pristine as he joined it, was England sub Johnny Wilkinson. This is because when he is not kicking he is running away from the rucks pointing at people and shouting a bit. Very sensible Johnny. You are an oldie like me and your hair is always very neat and tidy (not like me) and we know you have had loads of injuries so, you carry on love.

Johnny Wilkinson

Regimental Goat