Friday, 6 November 2009


Mes tres chers amis de mon coeur, or words to that effect.

What a glorious subject this is for my pen, to be sure, for the summer is long past, the harvest is gathered, and today I saw a vile child ripping open the windows of an Advent calendar to get at the low-quality chocolate. In Germany, the windows are called Turchen* (little doors) and the chocolate is top-notch. As usual we lag behind.

Yesterday, I was let down by an unreliable man; but did I mope about like an adolescent? I did not. On a whim, I grabbed a lime and a knife, a glass and four cans of readymixed Gordons and tonic and shot down to Maidenhead Thicket to absorb the breathtaking colours bestowed upon us by the seasons of mist.

How strange is the change of the seasons! For once those immemorial elms did not play silent witness to countless dogging couples and homosexualist thrillseekers. No, the dank chill of a November afternoon had sent them scurrying to the room-by-the-hour hotel (Sole Prop. Freddie Starr) at Knowl Hill, and so I was free to meander about the woods until I reached my favourite place. Here, by an old birch tree trunk, now covered with sulphur-tuft, is where I had the terrifying fall from my maddened old mare in May 1999. Kind friends will recall how I suffered two compound fractures and, as I gazed on the bones protruding from my very flesh, two gracious old alfresco copulators bound me up with their flag of Austria and summoned help. By the sheer Grace of God, and the skillful ministrations of the Man Who Put Frankie Dettori Back Together Again, I am blemish free; but the fear and flashbacks were with me for months.

I sometimes come to this spot to exorcise the ghost, for I feel sure that my terror hangs in the ether, waiting to cause some other fearful incident. How many other horses have shied at an unseen wraith, or caught the scent of spilt blood and pain? Who cares. I sit on the trunk when I visit and make a silent toast. To me. Yesterday, I drank my four Gordons and felt better for it.

The leaves have all changed, and many are dropping. The sycamores are infected with tarspot fungus, but it was heartening to watch the starlings in the bramble bushes, still hanging around in their flocks. Starlings don't pair up until March or April, and in the Autumn they moon around in adolescent gangs. I also saw a bullfinch in a maple.

The Thicket runs up to the edge of the A4. In the layby is a kebab van. The operator is a Turk and he rang for a taxi for me. I did not buy a kebab, but he gave me a gherkin.

I hope you have enjoyed these informative observations from an English countrywoman in her prime, and that it may bring some joy to your humdrum lives.

*no umlauts, as per