Monday, 28 July 2008

I should have known this would happen

9am. The stables are shut. Of course the stables are shut. Of course there is no-one here because I have arranged for Tiger to be mucking out from 9am to 11am. It is supposed to be the start of her horse adventure week, for which I am selling a lung and a kidney.

9.10am. I tell Tiger for the millionth time that of course Tim, who is managing the stables, has not forgotten about her. He is leaving the house right now because he overslept last night and when she is grown up she will understand why grown ups need an extra ten minutes in bed on a Monday morning.

9.20am. I tell Tiger play one more game of hopscotch. I will call Tim's mobile in a few minutes.

9.30am. There is no answer from Tim's mobile. I get a recorded woman telling me this number is not contactable.

9.40am. I tell an increasingly distressed Tiger that everything will be fine. In fact nothing can possibly go wrong with these arrangements because I have worked hard to set them up. And, I say, I am so confident everything will work out, that I have appointments for myself lined up all day today which have been built around dropping her off and picking her up.

9.45am. On the sly, I ring Dig, and ask him to search the web for telephone numbers.

9.50am. Dig finds a number for the stables. I ring it, even though we are here and no-one else is. I get a recorded woman telling me this number does not accept incoming calls.

10.00am. I call one of the six emergency numbers listed at the stables. These are the emergency numbers in case of fire, bolted horses, or a wall-eyed toothless lunatic heading over the hills with a grudge against anything on four legs and a machete. Actually, I would count as an emergency a distraught Tiger who thinks everyone has forgotten her, and a pissed off Grit who has spent several hours in the last few months pursuing these arrangements for her daughter's home education, only to have now the strong suspicion that she has been forgotten about, even though she stood at Tim's elbow in the stables only last week when he wrote down in the diary that Tiger was to be here everyday on a horse adventure week.

10.05am. I call the first emergency number, for Jules. She says ring Tee. I ring Tee. A recorded woman tells me to leave a message. I ring the third number for Laura. Laura tells me to ring Tee, when lo and behold, Tee drives past in a car. She screeches to a halt when she sees me and asks whether we are there for Tim. Yes. But Tim is not here for us. That is because, says Tee, he is in a field.

I should have known that. I should have known that whatever Grit does in her life it is going to end in a field. The field will be in the middle of nowhere because everything always is. I am going to spend my life in fields. I will spend my life in fields because this is where the excluded, defeated, marginalised, frustrated, pissed off, and miserable people go. They go into fields. If you drive past some fields you will see us there, wandering about, unable to escape, weeping. I will never get out of the field. I will die disappointed, defeated, in a field with no funeral because that is what happens to people who struggle everyday, only to see their ambitions, purposes and goals frustrated, no matter how small and insignificant those ambitions are, no matter on whose behalf we are all working, or how minor our objective, it will all be thwarted and skewered. And end up in a field.

11.00am. Take Tiger to a field where Tim swears blind he sent me a text. Meet him here, at the field. I hold up my phone. No text. He raises his eyebrows like technologyeh? and heads off into the field with Tiger behind, leaving me to look at the back end of a horse.

11.10am. Arrange to pick Tiger up at 1.30pm. Spend the next 30 minutes hanging on mobile phone rescheduling the day, cancelling appointments, rearranging times and asking Dig to pick up Shark at midday from a drama workshop because now I will never make it.

11.35am. Stare at field. Consider whether it is better to be buried near the gate or under the horse shit.

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