I am completely bewitched by Our Horses in Egypt by Rosalind Belben but hang onto your reins, we do have a bit of a problem (that's awful, sorry but it is Saturday, I'm allowed)
Halfway through and out of nowhere this completely non-horse-loving reader has developed a sudden and complete empathy with equine suffering and Philomena in particular.
I've had to take Our Horses in Egypt off my night time reading schedule and read it in daylight hours because I was having nightmares about wounded horses. So far it's all very subtle in the book, in fact is was only one line that did for me, but I've seen horses intestines on Super Vets, they're the size of drainpipes, uncontrollable drainpipes and my dreams were suddenly littered with equine viscera.I was waking up with a jump thinking I'd got to help with the scooping up and wondering where my wellies were.
Now I'm not famed for my love of horses, it just never happened to me as a child growing up in South London from the age of four. Roller skates were cheaper and less messy, though I tried very hard to be horsey.
Look, remember this, here I am a keen rider forging links with Family Equidae.
I read National Velvet by Enid Bagnold, all the Pullein Thompson's and Ruby Ferguson's I could find, Monica Dickens' Follyfoot series, watched The Horse of the Year Show and cheered on Marion Coakes and the plucky little Stroller as he jumped fences ten times his height. Yes indeed I enjoyed horses vicariously and occasionally even pretended to be Jill and set up a few jumps in the garden and did a bit of giddy-up neddy trotting around my own gymkhana.
But get me near a live one and I was petrified (I think I'm showing early signs of fear on that donkey actually)
Then the defining moment in the relationship at Horseguard's Whitehall, the horse sneezing contemptuously all over my new, white ankle socks and that was the end of my endeavours.
Me and horses for ever on opposite sides of the jump.
But I have almost fallen in love with horses now, this late in my life, and if Philomena turns up on our doorstep she can go in the back field and
Bookhound I personally will get up at 6am every morning to groom her (is that what you do to horses at 6am?) and we'll drape numnahs over the Aga and build a tack room somewhere.
How can I have sat by all those years ago, so emotionally detached beyond the usual sympathy for a close friend in distress, when she sat weeping at my kitchen table? She'd come to escape while the knackerman hoisted her beloved but deceased horse Kizzy aboard his lorry.
Kizzy had over-indulged in acorns and was no more and I'll own up, I couldn't stop myself wondering how many tins of Pedigree Chum that would equate to. Then, in those days your thoughts naturally turned to Shergar and wondering whether you had perhaps inadvertently fed him to your dog.
Things got worse because I completely missed the message behind this beautiful little wallhanging which the same friend stencilled for me to quilt some time later.The significance has only just dawned on me, I can hardly ring her up and confess twenty years on.
I'm cruel, insensitive and heartless that's what I am, but no more, because reading Rosalind Belben will surely make me a nicer person?
So the next night instead of horses I made a start on a novel about terrorism in Italy, Nightingale by Peter Dorward from Two Ravens Press, a bomb explodes at Bologna railway station killing huge numbers of people.
Honestly, forgive the analogy, but surely this will be out of the nightmare frying pan into the nightmare fire as it were?
It's proving to be a great read and I will have plenty to write about it soon.I eventually fell asleep at 2am after a hundred or so pages of riveting, involved reading about terrible human tragedy and then I slept like a baby.
So now I'm feeling a whole lot worse if not slightly guilty about my very good night's sleep.
This is all very worrying, I'll be willing my half of the estate to the Mare & Foal Sanctuary next.