David’s sister Ginny has inherited half a horse from her dear departed Aunt Minnie who sadly passed away at Christmas. Probate, according to Ginny, is a bugger. Dear old Ginny headed off with glee in her eyes and visions of cash when she attended the reading of the will last Wednesday, only to be brought crashing back to earth with the words “and to my beloved niece Virginia Elizabeth Clementine, I bequeath my half share in Jezebel”. David had been left her vast collection of antique sherry glasses which he’s still puzzling over. “When did she ever see me drink sherry?” he keeps asking.
Jezebel is a six year old mare that Aunt Minnie for her daughter Rebecca when Rebecca’s marriage went up the swannee two years ago. Minnie “chipped in” with livery costs and so on and enjoyed visiting Jezebel every week to give her carrots and apples. Rebecca was present at the will reading and cornered Ginny afterwards as the rest of the family bolted to the Dog and Bucket (cousin Edward was peeved to find that he hadn’t been left the house apparently). Ginny was fully prepared to be asked if she would immediately sell her half of Jezebel – for a fair amount of cash she thought. Rebecca had other ideas and wanted to sell her half to Ginny. A dilemma.
We don’t see Ginny very often but when we do, in her words, it’s a hoot! Ginny is very “jolly hockey sticks”, never married and is constantly telling “darling mummy” to be nicer to me. Amelia obviously never listens to her daughter. She favours country tweeds and drives a decrepit old banger and is more suited to walking across fields with Labradors at her heels so doesn’t come up from Windsor that often. She rang me and asked if myself “and the dear little lad” would be up for a spot of lunch? We assured her we would be (another teacher training day at nursery, don’t get me started) and met up at Café Rouge in Blackheath. Mac was overly excited about being in a proper restaurant and was on his best behaviour. “My treat!” she boomed as we sat at our table. Mac sat open mouthed. “Auntie Ginny” he began tentatively as she peered at the wine glasses for trace of lipstick. “Which half of the horse have you got?”
Ginny cackled with laughter and corralled a passing waiter to order wine before answering. “Well darling, I’ve either got the end that eats or the end that sh…” I coughed loudly to prevent her finishing that sentence. She’s never quite sure how to behave around children. At Christmas she bought him a very realistic gun and proceeded to show him how to shoot birds.
“But the bugger is, I don’t want a horse, or even half a horse. Too much of a bind and how the bloody hell can I ride it if I’m near the castle and the poor beast is in Bexley? Bexley, what a place, even for a horse” she continued loudly. The couple at the next table were agog as she started polishing cutlery. Ginny states often and loudly that she “lives near the castle”. She does in fact, from her bathroom window you can see several turrets. “Plus darling, I’m not even sure that I like horses. Dreadful smelly creatures” she added as she put in an order for soup of the day and lamb noisettes.
“Course, Becky wants to give her half the heave ho now that she’s bagged her consultant. Renal. He’s a Frog darling, can you credit it? Doesn’t want to ride the horse when she can ride her man what?!” I learnt, very early on, just to let Ginny ramble on, chipping in only where necessary. “So it’s either half a gee gee or a whole one. Dear God, can you imagine?”
Mac was still openmouthed as she continued “I say darling! Would you like it? For Little Lad here? Fantastic for a child to be able to ride, even in Bexley. It was apparently 9 grand new, and Rebecca is asking just 3 point 5 for her half”. Only Ginny could make a half a horse sound like a Ford Focus. “You’d like a horse wouldn’t you Little Lad? Nice gee gee to ride?” she boomed at Mac who was now looking at me with hope in his eyes. “I’d help you out with the upkeep of the beast obviously, be nice for me to drop into conversations actually, I part own a horse, keep all the local Colonels interested what?!” she barked with laughter and crashed a meaty hand down on the table. The couple at the next table were now openly watching us.
Mac’s hopeful expression was stronger now – he’d heard stories of my childhood and adolescence where I was never far from the stables. I rode right up until my 26th birthday when I went out for a ramble in Dorset and was spectacularly thrown from a horse (Bandit, I’ll never forget him) and, apart from riding him back to the stables, never got on a horse again. 9 years out of the saddle is a long time. But, just recently I’ve been tempted by the lure of manure and equine affection and was planning to take some lessons, spurred on of course by reading Mutterings and Meanderings. “Mummy, please ask Daddy if we can buy Jezalell” Mac said, clearly knowing where I stood in all major decisions in the family.
Actually, he’s right. If I went home and told David that I’d just bought half of the horse that his sister was left by Aunt Minnie without consultation and subsequent discussions, I might just find myself in the divorce courts.
Or worse, at another Reading of the Will.