Editor's Comment: April 2019
PUBLISHED: 09:47 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:47 14 March 2019
Our editor Mike Lowe reveals why he's not a big fan of horses (including the aftermath of wearing jeans on a hack) and shares his thoughts on the dreaded B-word
I can’t say that I’m a great fan of horses. This might seem strange seeing as I’ve committed this issue of Cotswold Life to all things equestrian, but the interests of our readers come before my personal preferences.
I’ve only ridden a horse once, when challenged to have a go while at an afternoon party at a livery yard. I embraced the task with slightly inebriated enthusiasm, my lasting impression being disappointment that horses weren’t smarter when following instruction. I thought they’d be like very big dogs; instead they turned out to be marginally cleverer than cows. (I’m not doing myself any favours here, am I?)
I was also wearing a pair of denim jeans, and only realised that this was not ideal riding wear when red-raw inner thighs left me walking just like John Wayne for the rest of the week. Now I understand that rolling gait.
Later in life, a former partner was horse-mad. She bought a magnificent palomino steed and hurled herself into the dressage arena. I then spent Sundays driving a dilapidated horsebox around the Midlands before watching paint dry for several hours – or watching a dressage competition as some might term it. (It’s not getting any better for me, is it?) The only light relief, if you can call it that, was the occasional trip to the nearest A&E department after the marginally-cleverer-than-a-cow beast had deposited its rider onto an unyielding object of some kind.
Later again, and now living in the Forest of Dean, I spent my hefty newspaper editor’s bonus (those were the days) on a rather splendid stable block. Stupidly, I’d forgotten that Field of Dreams film which came with the catchline “If you build it, they will come”. And so they did. One horse became two, two became three, and when returning home after a trip away I found a fourth lurking in a dark corner, it occurred to me that enough might be enough. I was rapidly becoming a bankrupt Kevin Costner. We won’t even mention things like vet’s bills, farrier’s fees, feed, tack, blankets, nutritional supplements…
In the end I settled for a shivering whippet instead. More fun, smarter, cheaper and small enough to fit on the end of the couch. Although have you seen the price of those cashmere whippet coats?
*To protect the innocent, some of the “facts” above might have been misremembered.
Due to the vagaries of magazine deadlines, I am writing this 23 days before Brexit. I therefore have no idea what kind of country we will be living in by the time you read it. All my instincts are that we’ll still be in some kind of limbo, either through an enforced extension or through a commitment to a second referendum (which in itself will seemingly take a couple of years to arrange).
The ramifications of this whole sorry mess seems to be having an impact already. The streets are filthy, the shops are untidy, public spaces and amenities suddenly look cold and unwelcoming, customer service is evaporating, the trains don’t run on time, fly-tipping is rife and and petty crime seems everywhere. It’s as if we’re suffering from a complete loss of self-confidence as a nation.
One thing I do know is that our elected representatives have spent the last two years bickering amongst themselves to the exclusion of anything else. Similarly the civil service has been bogged down with preparations for something, without knowing just what. This means that almost all “normal” Parliamentary business has been cast aside amid these clan wars. So what has been missed?
Which important matters that would have come before the House have been overlooked? What legislation has been sidelined? If the answer is none, then that begs another question. Why do we even need a Parliament in its current form?
Brexit might not have just changed this country forever. It might also have made people seriously question a government structure which consists of 650 extremely expensive squabbling poltroons when a 21st-century solution would be far more efficient and economical.
For more from Mike, follow him on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor