Give me a child until [s]he is seven……

Hello again, this week I have to begin with an apology. Last week something went wrong with the photographs and I may have come across as something of a ‘grape hyacinth’ freak. In the interests of clarity I’m including the missing pictures below. On the left are my school friends (I’m the one with the bad perm) and on the right is JY looking cerebral in a turtleneck.

So, as we know, all good stories have an origin narrative, where the personality of the storyteller is shaped. These are often set on a distant planet, mine was shaped in Larne! (Don’t worry Mother, this won’t be ‘Mommie Dearest’)

Picture the scene….

It’s sometime in the mid 1960’s and two people fall in love. So far so good. However, the ‘girl’ (mother) was a 4ft 11″ Catholic in her 20’s and the ‘boy’ (the irony) was a 6ft Presbyterian in his late 40’s. Way to go parents – no controversy there!

They did get married, and after a respectable pause, I came along. Their union would have been referred to in the 1970’s (and beyond), as a ‘mixed marriage’, because neither of them ‘turned’, this has to be said with the sort of sneer you would adopt when prescribing an ointment for a particularly embarrassing pustule.

So who were these romantic pioneers (it was pure Kevin and Sadie, love across the barricades)? They were a very glamorous couple and once went to a fancy dress party as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Mummy was all eyes and hair (not her own, well the eyes were, but not the hair) Daddy looked elegant in a safari suit and a brown silk polo. He was very fond of that safari suit.

They went to another fancy dress party as Maurice Chevalier and Gigi (which gave off a rather different vibe). Strangely – no pictures exist of that particular outing!

Daddy was a gifted raconteur. One of his specialities was sharing the fun fact that his wife ‘was the only woman he knew who could take her knickers off standing up in a Mini’. The fact that they were Mini owners at the time lent a certain veracity to this tale. I never did find out if this was true and since Mother has done in her hip she is no longer limber enough to try. He would mesmerise a room with tales of his time in the States, New York in particular. It was reminiscent of a County Antrim Jack Kerouac. This was especially entertaining to watch as he had never set foot on the continent of America. He was very bold.

Daddy was a very devoted parent, and much more involved that other men of his generation. The day the Marie Rose was being raised he wanted me to stay off school to watch it. He was persuaded that we would definitely be allowed to watch it in school – we weren’t, and he never quite forgave the Headmistress.

We would cuddle up on the sofa and watch all variety of programmes. My poor teachers and my extremely right wing, ultra Catholic primary school were subjected to a daily lottery of what I might reveal in ‘Our News’. Every morning after we heard that Shelia’s Mummy had had another baby and Kathleen’s Mummy had got a new vacuum cleaner, I might observe that I had seen a lion eating an impala (Wildlife on One), or a ‘great piece of satire, where a man goes into a restaurant, wearing only a tie’ (Not the Nine o’clock News). I was something of a pompous arse even then.

‘We three’ were happy as pigs in muck when very suddenly while I was ten, he rather suddenly and thoughtlessly died of a heart attack. Hmmmmmmm – now don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Frank McCourt – I did get to keep my Communion money. Our already small community had dwindled to two. Mother and I moved in with my recently widowed grandmother (oh yes! good times). Do you know something? After a while, it was ok – mainly due to the force of character and will of the two women raising me.

Mother is an incredible woman. For many years she juggled full time work, and acting career and raising me (who we will recall from last week was a little bit odd). Having said that she isn’t particularly conventional. When you are a teenage and ‘odd’, conventional is really important.

Next week I shall share with the story of the night Mother’s tits saved her……..

In the psychiatrist’s chair….almost

Hello again,

I’ve had a lovely week. On Thursday night, Mother and I went to YC school concert. It was brilliant, and naturally, I cried. There were a wide range of performances, although I’m yet to be convinced by the ‘Irish dancing / African Drums’ fusion number. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough?

On Friday night I was out on the town with my school pal Gill. It was one of those wonderful evenings where conversations from, five, ten and even thirty years ago just get picked up as if it was yesterday.

Me with my school pals, Gill is the one in the light blue cable jumper, Sharon is top left and Vohn bottom right. I’m the one with the very bad perm. If you look closely you will see I’m sporting a brooch on my sweatshirt – brooches were my thing in the ’80’s!! The pony tail is being secured by a length of black lace. It was a cruel decade.

Anyway….. following ‘Trumpgate’ I swore off internet dating. I studiously ignored my phone, but when another smile ‘pinged’ I couldn’t resist a skelly. It looked promising – a Scottish psychiatrist working at a local hospital. After the usual rounds of likes / dislikes / etc we got chatting properly and it all seemed to be going swimmingly. There had been a slight wrinkle when I corrected him on a point of grammar – this did not impress.

The trouble is, I wasn’t really designed for admiring ‘baskets of kittens’ while the menfolk do the thinking. I was getting the impression that SP (Scottish Psychiatrist) was used to being the cleverest boy in the room.

On Christmas night – things took a turn. We had been chatting about inconsequential stuff (including the fact that he would only give Katherine Hepburn 97/100 – that should have been my clue), when he sent the following message,

‘So how long have you been single – or in other words – when was the last time you had any sort of relationship? Short term, long term relationship, very short / fling….’

Talk about a change of pace!!!!! It was like one of those questionnaires they give you at the beginning of a new round of counselling. On a side note, I once refused to fill in one of those ‘ have you got post natal depression?’ handouts you get after having a baby. At the time I was most definitely post natally depressed – but the form wasn’t photocopied onto the page straight! That told them all they needed to know.

In order to diffuse what was becoming a rather serious conversation – I jokingly (why will I never learn) observed that The American had been jettisoned because of his voting preferences. Well……….. clearly all the clever boys defend each other.

He was fuming. Didn’t I know all the good things Trump had done? Where was I getting my (flawed) information? For the record – BBC, CNN, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Times, National Geographic ( and to be fair – Private Eye)

PS That’s JY looking distinctly Headshrinky in her turtleneck.

This went back and forth for a while. I probably should have climbed (or fallen given my history) off my high horse, but I just couldn’t. His final message observed that he didn’t want to meet someone who was strongly opinionated and that he was blocking my number. Phew!

How was I attracting these delights?? My knitting friend ‘Lovely Sharon’ who does clever things with Apps, explained that because I had mentioned faith and religion on my profile the algorithm could be skewing the results to the right. Fair enough, I wasn’t prepared to change or deny this part of my life so I took a different tack.

I logged onto ‘Romances allied to Rome’ (or something like that) and got stuck in. The questionnaire was thorough to say the least. There are now men all over the world who know my favourite saint (St Joseph) my thoughts on contraception (that would be a yes) and my preferred form of the liturgy…….

Once again I went with honesty…. possibly a mistake.

Following my ‘revelation’ that I was the proud owner of a degree absolute, a tattoo and a gay child it turned out there weren’t too many matches. I think they may have formed a committee to resurrect Dante Alighieri in order that he can create a new ring of hell just for me.

So here I am – stuck between a rock and a hard place (or not!) – too straitlaced for mainstream sites, too radical for the Holy Joes. I am distinctly niche.

What to do?? Well, I’ve decided to try the ‘clubs and societies’ route.

I’ve signed up for Classical Greek, Philosophy and Walking with Mensans (The Bolter unkindly observed that the last one sounded like living with a chronic condition). I am genuinely interested in all of this so its not just about ‘ Mancatching’ – but you never know.

Next week – Stroke, Horse, Hot – Origins…..

She’s just a little bit odd….

Happy Mother’s Day everyone. Today I am going to repay my own Mother’s unconditional love by plastering details of my disastrous love life all over the internet – i’m sure she will be very proud.

Well, before I discuss The American, I think its only fair to give you a bit of context. You see, i’m a little bit odd (not 50 shades odd, more having all your colouring pencils in height order depending on how much they have been used, odd)

When I was seven I became fixated on the idea that I was going to be kidnapped (talk about self aggrandisement) Being something of a control freak, I had even packed a bag and had a coat on a hanger all ready to go. I still remember the coat, it was a lovely red aran jacket with silver buttons which my mother had knit, I was particularly fond of it. It was this domesticity that completely terrified my poor parents (i’m something of a stranger to being tidy).

A GP appointment was hastily made and I was soon explaining to a rather bewildered medic that, ‘no strange men had offered me any confectionary – I just had a ‘feeling’ that I was going to be kidnapped’. At this point, he should have said:

a) Mummy, have you ever heard of ASD?

b) Don’t worry about the whole kidnapping thing – she’s feeling a bit insecure because her beloved auntie has just died.

However, instead he ran with, ‘Don’t worry Mummy, she’s just a little bit odd’ – and that was that. To be fair, it was Larne circa 1980 and medicine has moved on a bit. Over the years I have embraced the oddness, even celebrated it, but the accompanying social awkwardness does make dating something of a challenge.

Returning to 2018, one evening in late summer a ‘smile’ pinged into my inbox and the American adventure began. The American in question was a Boston / Belfast based doctor and soon we were chatting away and I was able to subtract six from any number (time difference between Belfast and Boston) at lightening speed.

To be fair, a lot of the conversation was rather pompous intellectual one-upmanship – I loved it!!! His favourite book was ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ an argument against the theories put forward in ‘The Bell Curve’ (not The Bell Jar, that’s a whole other shitstorm) – not a lot of laughs and chapter four on factor theory is rather dry, but it gave us plenty to talk about.

Our first meeting was delayed by the whole ‘hot water bottle’ incident. I’m not naturally a vain person, but even I could see that trying to be alluring while bits of your face are actually falling off into your dinner is probably not a goer.

Things took a slightly racy turn when I sent him a picture of my chest! Actually, not racy in the slightest, I was querying if the cross I was wearing was a ‘bit too Borgia’ for a school Mass – The American responded with a suitably arsey comment about Borgia being preferable to Opus Dei – I was in heaven.

We eventually met up in a nice restaurant in town, I was terrified, the last ‘date’ I had been on was when I was 20 and I hadn’t a clue about what you were supposed to do. After the first five minutes where we both settled ourselves by straightening the cutlery things relaxed a bit and we had a lovely time. There was one slightly ‘odd’ moment half way through when he rubbed my arm and told me I was doing very well, in the style of a benevolent uncle or ageing clergyman (this was in response to my earlier declaration of nervousness).

Anyway – time passed, more chatting, and a decision was reached – we would spend the night together. Let’s face it, neither of us were ever going to be the ‘tumble spontaneously into bed type’. I think Tim Collins had probably made less elaborate preparations for his invasion Northern Iraq that I had for that evening.

There were endless consultations with The Bolter regarding clothing and grooming. We went with JAANB (jeans and a nice blouse), to continue the ‘keen but not desperate’ narrative set by my knickers. Mr Bolter (a gifted administrator and mathematician) thoughtfully sent a post coital self evaluation pro forma – no pressure then! To say I was nervous was an understatement ( it had been exactly six years to the day since I last got up to anything like this).

At this point, if you were watching a movie of my life (I would be played by Janette Krankie, Sandi Toksvig or possibly Susan Calman), the camera would discretely cut away you would be treated to suitably unsubtle images of rockets and fountains while Souza’s Liberty Bell plays loudly. So lets just imagine that, shall we. Suffice it to say, fun was had.

Unfortunately, there was soon to be trouble in paradise. Now, i’d always known that his politics were conservative, and that some of his views were a bit tricky (but it had been SIX YEARS). However, what happened next, I was not expecting……

Late one evening, I observed breathlessly, ‘Gosh, wasn’t that lovely!’ (told you, odd) and then in a jokey fashion, ‘Thank God you’re not a Trump voter.’

What followed was THE WORLD’S MOST AWKWARD SILENCE. Dear Reader, what was a girl to do?

There was no other option, I put my knickers on and went home !

My excursion into Irish / American co-operation had reached an abrupt end.

Next week – how I nearly met up with a Scottish psychiatrist on Boxing Day.

ps: Still waiting to hear from the Lovely Levison – if some of you could get on to that, i’d really appreciate it.

And then there were sausage rolls…..

It’s been a lovely week – spring has definitely sprung! During the week MC passed an interview which takes her a big step closer to his chosen career and I was away on a fieldtrip. It was great, I got to spend two days fannying about in the Mournes measuring ‘stuff’ in rivers and the sea. It was made even better by the fact that the students we had with us were fabulous.

My romantic history was summarised very succinctly a few years ago by EC, ‘ Face it Mummy, first there was Conall (first boyfriend age 17 -20), then there was Daddy (age 20 -39) and then there were sausage rolls (age 39 to present)’

I had thought by now that I would have been married to Dick Strawbridge or Levison Wood ( I definitely have a type). However, in the interim Dick got married putting him out of contention. The last I heard (i.e. Googled) the Lovely Lev is still on the market – so if anyone has his number, do pass on my details. I think we would be perfect for each other.

Given that my social life revolves around knitting, Mass and solitary walks with Judgmental Yorkie chances for romance are thin on the ground.

JY looking wistful on the Holywood coastal path yesterday.

In addition my limited efforts in flirting in person were not hugely successful either. I did meet a lovely author one night at an event with Mother (see, out with my Mother – the glamour!) who I fancied the knickers off. However too much gin nervous gin drinking led me to discussing ‘times past’ and that put paid to that. I did order his books off Amazon and mooned over his tiny picture like I used to with ‘The Edge’ in the Jackie in the 1980’s – but eventually I wised up.

Having bored all my friends with my lamenting and keening I accepted their pleading to ‘get online’. Several had them had tried this and had a great combination of horror stories and happy endings. The one common thread was that within seconds of logging on I would be ‘inundated’ with smiles / winks and offers.

I did my research, checked my bank balance (true love doesn’t come cheap) and elected to definitely NOT pick anything which would involve a swipe!

The next stage of this epic was filling in the questionnaire. Holy God, getting my degree was less stressful.

I decided honesty was the best policy. As a result I launched myself into cyberspace as:

a) ‘Malcom Tucker meets Jean Brodie’

b) Radio 4 fan

c) Witty & Intelligent

d) Requires well read man who understands nuance and looks good in Gortex.

Now how hard should that have been? I also added hillwalking – everybody says hillwalking but in my case it is actually true. Mind you, given the number of people who write it, the hills should be littered with eligible men. The two days I spent in the Mournes this week should have been like shooting desirable, attractive fish in a barrel. Alas this was not the case and there was a definite scarcity of opportunities.


I added my picture and sat back and waited for the offers to roll in, and waited and waited and waited…..

Cue stock pictures of tumbleweed, calendar pages ripping off and swirling newspapers with appropriate seasonal references.

It seems that Radio 4 listeners who enjoy hillwalking, fibre arts and intellectual snobbery are not as readily available as the saucy tales of my friends would have suggested.

However, one day in late summer a ‘smile’ landed in my in box and my American adventure began……

A whisper of silk….

A very Happy St Patrick’s Day one and all. How was your week? I’ve has a lovely week – the work ‘thing’ went well – I led with a red lip and red nails (I have absolutely no idea what that means, but my daughter’s said it was a good idea and it seemed to work). EC passed his driving test and is now facing the grim reality of the cost of getting a keeping a car on the road, but he’s all delighted, and so am I.

The coveted ‘R’ plates

As the kids all head off into town to celebrate the national saint with green beer, i’m reminded of an earlier St. Patrick’s day. When the children were small I would regularly plan outdorsey, creative ‘saggy titted tree hugging’ stuff. Even now when I make a suggestion for an outing there is a great deal of retina detaching eye rolling and mutters of ‘Oh Christ, Mummy’s gone all National Trust again’. So.… for EC’s first St Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be rather jolly to turn his milk green and make buns with green icing. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME – the nappy produced by this concoction is not to be recommended.

Having had time to reflect on my single status, I decided to try and move things along at bit.

So, as Benjamin Franklin (and every facilitator at any shite management conference you have ever attended) observed, ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. The quest for pulling pants began.

My relationship with underwear can be best described as functional. I appreciate that this is unusual – for example – when the Bolter, bolted one of the key items she brought with her was her bag of good pants. I would be hard pressed to fill an envelope with good pants never mind a bag. I am also very scared of the women who work in knicker shops – they are really intimidating. This wasn’t helped by a woman in House of Fraser actually snorting when I went in and asked to be fitted for a sports bra. Actually snorted!

In order to avoid a repeat of this humiliation I turned to online shopping. One such purchase a number of years ago promised ‘a whisper of silk’ hmmmmmmm – that’s not quite what it was like. The garments themselves were perfectly fine, it was the wearer that had the issues. Picture Mr Pickwick with his rotund belly or Harry Seacombe in his later years. Well that’s what I looked like in a pair of red French knickers.

The current knicker hunting odyssey had three key stages.

Stage 1: Ann Summers ‘It’s very tasteful, so everybody said’. ‘Let’s give it a go’, said one of my knitting pals and one Wednesday we found ourselves slinking into the Belfast store. We entered commando style (as in tuck and roll rather than not wearing any pants) for fear that any of the students I teach spotted me on this particular excursion. We wandered around for a while deeply out of our comfort zone, and it is true, much of the lingerie was very tasteful, we didn’t venture ‘downstairs’. I was at the point of making a purchase when we spotted a man lurking furtively round ‘things in cans’ and I ran away. I’m ashamed to say – I ran out of that shop like a five year old, as did my mate.

Stage 2: MC and I went to Dublin for the day to see the giraffes in the zoo.

We’re very fond of an aul giraffe

We decided that having travelled all that way we might as well take a wee trip into Victoria’s Secret. Holy God. It was like walking into a night club, i’m more of a chess club kind of gal. There were low lights and thumping music and gorgeous people and very tiny knickers as far as the eye could see. It was a whole new language – who knew there were so many words to describe tiny pants. After several circuits I was beginning to despair, there was no chance of buying a bra, most of them seemed to have bits missing, but I did actually buy pants.

Actual footage of my pants!

Third time lucky – I eventually decided that if I was going to have any success buying grown up underwear, I was going to have to go myself. The next Wednesday on my way to knitting (i’m so bad ass) I called into Boux Avenue. I must have looked very out of place because very soon a lovely shop assistant took pity on me and came over. She gently took the bra I was holding out of my had and shook her head. ‘Is it for a special occasion?’ How do you answer that?? Then she asked the most bizarre question I have ever encountered. ‘What do you want your bust to communicate?’ What do you say to that? Eventually I came up with ‘keen but not desperate’ This seem to make sense and soon I was in a changing room with a whole range of lovely things to try on. While the assistant was demonstrating the ‘swoop and scoop’ a strange contortion where you literally heave your boobs into the cup from underneath in order to achieve a good fit – who knew? It was during this operation that my phone rang – it was my mother. Known for her tenacity, when I didn’t answer the first three times she kept on ringing. So on the fourth attempt, I answered with ‘Mummy i’m standing in a tiny room with a strange lady who has her hands on my chesticles’. She rang off. I did call later and explain.

Within a relatively short time I was leaving the store with several lovely boxes filled with tissue paper ‘good pants’.

Now the only this left to do was to find someone to mesmerise with my feminine wiles………

Not to diminish YOUR injury…

Hello Everyone – Did you have a good week? Earlier in the week I got asked to speak at a work thing ….quite a big work thing. SO, naturally, before I even began the Powerpoint or attempted to meet any key performance indicators, I had to decide what to wear. There was only one possible option – phone The Bolter. The Bolter is my big elegant mate, we worked together for many years, until she, well, ummm, bolted! She lives in a hot country with her lovely partner (Mr Bolter) and their incredible toddler twins (The Bons)

So.… I issued my requirements, ‘ I had to not look like a Geography Teacher (awkward, because that is exactly what I am), a guest at a wedding or a try hard! Within nano seconds she came back with, your nice black tunic dress, a statement necklace, and PROPER shoes. As a result I found myself in M&S handing over a month’s wages for some ‘shaping hose’. If I am to believe the packet I will wake up like Rhea Parlman and leave the house like Nicole Kidman! Here’s hoping….

…… anyway, the hot water bottle…..

The rest of the summer passed peacefully and I spent a great holiday with The Bolter and her family. My entry into the country this time was smoother than my last attempt. The previous November I had been coming through a European airport doing, what I thought was a credible impression of a Victoria’s Secret Angel – unfortunately the guards took exception to this and pointed their big guns at me. A quick swoop around the luggage carousel and it was all fine….

I has a super time and we did a lot of ‘sitting’ – one evening we were heading off to a fancy restaurant and Mr Bolter suggested (gently) that I might like the Bolter to do my hair (even, given that later the same evening he tried to bring home two stray dogs – it was good advice). She worked her magic with her ‘Big Hair’ and I began to look a bit less frantic – needless to say I was straight on the phone and there was one waiting in Belfast on my return.

I bounded back to school in August full of vim and vigour and within three days was in constant agony as my back injury did not take kindly to the constant ‘stand up, sit down, keep moving’ of the teaching day. Within a couple of weeks I was walking like Douglas Bader (more realistically Kenneth Moore in reach for the skies – which is my only point of reference). The only thing that brought me any ease was heat. Late one Sunday afternoon in September I was attempting to fill a hot water bottle. It was one of those fancy long thin yokes with a beautiful cashmere cover. I’m still not exactly sure what happened – an air bubble, a leak…. but suddenly instead of calmly filling the bottle my face and chest was covered in boiling water.

Holy Christ it was sore – I put my hands to my face and when I could bear to remove them most of my nose landed on the kitchen floor – it was a rather Voldermorty moment. My screams brought EC and MC running and soon I was being swathed in wet towels and a taxi had been called to take me to the hospital.

As always these difficult experiences are helped by the characters you meet along the way.

Our taxi driver had the best afternoon ever! In response to MC instruction of get us to the Royal as fast as you can – he responded with vigour. It was like being in Grand Theft Auto – I believe we took Carlisle Circus on two wheels. In addition, at random moments he would throw water from his bottle over me to wet the towel. With a dramatic tuck and roll at the hospital entrance we exited the taxi and headed for help. MC went to check me in. There seemed to be a tortuous round of questions, name, age, address etc and finally what happened. In response to ‘My silly cow of a Ma has covered herself in boiling water’ the receptionist asked in a quiet voice ‘Where is your mother now?’ She pointed at my sopping, sobbing figure and all hell broke loose.

We were guided through a series of doors and the room filled with people. Very quickly the soothing gel was applied and I was swathed in a mask.

The English Patient

It seemed that I was to work my way through the entire Fiennes canon in one afternoon. I was treated by a wonderful nurse (ex army) who reassured me that he had seen much worse in battle! and then entertained us with stories of his time as a cruise ship medic. The transformation from GI Joe to Jayne Macdonald did seem a little strange – but we went with it. Some time later he came back concerned that I would feel my wounds were being diminished by his tales of war – I didn’t.

Mercifully I was soon discharged with an impressive bag of unguents to rub on.

My recovery was slow but steady and there were highlights – for example the morning I found two impressive new burns where the boiling water had tracked down the underwire of my bra and burned under by boobs. The day the face recognition on my laptop, recognised me again was actually quite emotional.

With all this time to recuperate I began to think and ponder and as we know, ‘In spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love’. Although in this case it was Autumn and it was a 45 year old woman – but you know what I mean……

Jooin me next week to see how that adventure panned out.

She has a fine seat on a horse

Hello again, I hope you had a good week. All good here. I had a particularly great day yesterday, spending time with friends.


During the day I was in The Dock honesty box café with Belfast Stitch and Bitch ( and we did a lot of both). Later I headed out to dinner with my BE friends as one of our number is heading off to Australia for a month. BE is a church group supporting people who are divorced, separated or widowed. For many years Mother and I took the piss and referred to it as ‘divorced, beheaded, died’ but actually it is wonderful ( yep, i’m churchy – who would have thought !). We do not, as EC suggests, sit round crying and talk about our ex husbands. There were lots of tears last night, but they were tears of laughter and at 3am when I was delivering weary travellers home, our ex’s were the last things on our mind.

So, I am broadcasting today very tired but mercifully clear headed (I was driving). So, the horse…..

As part of my ‘trying not to die’ campaign last summer I did a lot of walking with the girls. On one trip MC and I went to some camping pods in the Glens of Antrim to hike and have a horse picnic (seated on, not made from). There was a slightly tricky moment when they led out a spritely Follyfoot style mount for me and then, having noted my girth, reconsidered and called for ‘Flo’ who had a generous hint of Clydesdale.

It’s a great idea, someone quad bikes your picnic to the top of the hill, you ride up, eat, chill and ride back down. So far so good. I am a reasonably competent horsewoman, although as I am abbreviated in stature I do resemble your wee dame Thelwell. MC can actually ride very well. Our picnic came to an end and as we still had some time left the ‘horse lady’ suggested we do some paddock work. This was the moment when I SHOULD have said, ‘i’m grand, you and MC work away.’

It all started out quite smoothly, we moved around the paddock at a sedate rising trot. Unfortunately, i’m not gifted at horse whispering and while I thought my knees were saying ‘fine girl you are Flo, keep trotting away’ my equine pal heard ‘let’s canter’. I promptly lost a stirrup and in my increasing agitation thought it would be an idea to take one hand off the reins to try to fix it, listing me dangerously to starboard.

Now what follows is my honest recollection, MC disputes the timeline (falsely alleging I pissed myself causing the fall). Picture the scene, it has been a lovely but long afternoon ‘in the saddle’, followed by a rising trot and then an out of control canter….. As I began my gentle descent from an upright position I lost my other stirrup and everything suddenly felt, slick. Yep, I was experiencing a moment of not even slight bladder weakness. It was the perfect storm, fast moving horse, no stirrups and lubrication. Apparently it was the most middle class fall in history. MC observing from the other end of the ring, heard my plaintive cries of ‘excuse me, excuse me’ and noted me moving towards the rails hanging upside down around Flo’s neck. Gravity eventually won and I hit the ground with a thud.

I was terrified, I had a worrying pain in my lower back and that awful cold feeling in my gusset. Horse lady ran to my side and did all sort of spinal checks, meanwhile MC had to ride across the paddock to corral a slightly disgruntled Flo who was ‘pure scundered’ and probably chafing.

When Horse Lady suggested that I get up, I was a touch reluctant, and I repeatedly growled, ‘just give me a minute.’ Eventually I managed to get to my feet and the relief of not being paralysed was obscured by the indignity of having furry trousers where the sawdust had stuck to my damp pants!

After completing the fastest accident report in history I drove gingerly back to the campsite and straight to the shower. Sometime in the middle of the night – I was not asleep, despite a generous dose of painkillers, I heard the dangerous word ‘Muuuuummmmmy’. Yes? ‘Just a thought, did it never occur to you to say “stop” or ” woah” to the horse – I don’t think Flo spoke Radio 4?’

The only residual damage was a very sore back which could only be soothed by a hot water bottle….……….