Hello horse people! *Noddy Holder impression* It’s CHRRRIIISTMAAAAAS!!
Christmas in our house means two things. It means a pile of horse-related tat hidden under our bed until wrapping time (11pm, Christmas Eve) and also CC1 and CC2’s annual pilgrimage to Olympia for The Horse Thing That They Have There. I have no idea whatsoever of its official title, but each year around this time, the two of them head off to the big smoke to watch horses walking around in circles and then to spend any money of mine left over from the year that hasn’t already been frittered away on matchy matchy shit. Or salt.
I have no idea why the nag requires so much salt but our house is littered with buckets of Nutritionally-Enhanced Scientific Hi-Performance Iodized Rock Salt. On a bad day I can barely get through the front door for all the tubs piled up. I don’t mind the odd hit of salt from time to time myself, but it’d better be followed sharpish by some decent tequila and lime.
I think CC1 sees Olympia’s THTTTHT as a kind of end-of-year book-keeping exercise. In her mind, once the bills and mortgage have been taken care of and we get to December, then surely anything I still have rattling around in the bottom of my bank account can rightfully be spent on whatever horse-related tat she likes. It makes the books balance nicely in her eyes, does me a favour.
All I know is that they come back late, staggering wearily up the driveway, leaning forward at 45 degrees while dragging 18 bags each behind them, like a really shit event in a World’s Strongest Man competition. Except held at night and on my driveway. And hauling loads of soft, pink cotton products instead of tractor wheels or 747s.
Last year, CC2 had an amazing time by all accounts. Not only did she come home dragging half the contents of Olympia with her, but she had an actual encounter with the great Charlotte of the Garden, her all-time hero.
This year, she’s decided to up her game and has made a hit list of people to stalk. It’s like one of those old-fashioned ‘I Spy’ books, but a bit more sinister. It’s got all the big names on it, I believe. Hester, check. Of the Garden, check. Er… all the others, check. I’m not quite sure what she has to do to actually tick each person off, and frankly I don’t want to know. As long as it’s not ‘kill them and bring back their head as a trophy’ I don’t mind.
Cost aside, I don’t much mind them going off to THTTTHT for the day. It gives me the house to myself, so I can do some perfunctory and superficial housework early on to impress CC1 on her return, and then just lay horizontal on the sofa for the rest of the day, Playstation controller in hand, occasionally lifting my head up enough to successfully pour wine into myself.
There’s no CCs traipsing in from the car covered in hay and horseshit, no orders to go out into the cold to source bales of straw from a farmer and no canter banter over dinner. No banter at all in fact, just me sat at the kitchen table, watching TV on my phone while I eat, in EXACTLY the same way that I shout at CC2 for trying to do.
This year, I threatened to go with them. This was met with silence over the dinner table, forks frozen in mid-air as the two CCs locked eyes with each other. CC2 calmly put her fork down, patted her mouth with a napkin, cleared her throat and said, slowly, “Well… you can come but you have to stay silent during the shows. One word and you’re out.”
Frankly, this moment of pint-sized Godfather-esque threat put the willies up me a bit. I had visions of accidentally speaking during a particularly gripping 20m circle and then waking up next morning to find my decapitated motorcycle lying next to me, my hands slick with freshly-spilt engine oil.
On top of this, CC1 pointed out that it goes on all fucking day and ends at about 3 in the morning, and not even on the same day you got there. “Are you sure you want to spend 164 hours looking at horses and horse stuff?” she asked.
I’ve been to Olympia a few times myself over the years, but usually for the big beer festival. The entire, huge building, stuffed wall-to-wall with a vast range of lovely, lovely beers from around the world. *Gurgle*.
You start off the morning making considered choices as to what to try, based on geographic region, style of beer, alcoholic strength and cost. Come the early afternoon you’re making less-wise decisions, by late afternoon making frankly reckless decisions and then by the evening making decisions that you later have no recollection of whatsoever. I think I’ve been three times but have no memories of actually ever leaving.
Remove all the beer and replace with matchy matchy shit and rigging and sparkly horse tiaras and rugs? No, I’m not sure I want to go at all. I take it all back, it sounds dreadful.
So if you’re off to THTTTHT this year, then give CC1 and CC2 a wave if you see them (two girls, one 12, one…. not, both about the same height now, dragging loot behind them). But if you see them checking out anything expensive-looking then please step in and have a word for me. Anything leather is bad, or too shiny. Or made of salt. Please, we have enough salt already.