Peter and the Horses

     When we were on our third pint

     I asked Pete to tell me the one about the horses

O, he said, you mean that time they got out in the night

And broke down fifteen fence posts

And got into the cemetery

And trampled all the flowers

And shit on the lawns

And then walked across the A10

(Jesus- the A10!) and came out of all that without a scratch on them?

And I got up in the morning and found them gone

And had to follow their trail of destruction

Before I found them in Jimmy Nayler’s field?

And Jimmy not minding a bit

But me having to pour oil on troubled waters at the cemetery;

And taking them a box of doughnuts as a peace offering?

     No, I said; not that one.

I mean the one that’s not really about the horses

The one where you bought your son the horse

And paid two thousand pounds for it

And he told you soon after that he wasn’t interested any more

And you were so cross you wanted to tell him

And you asked me – me, of all people – what you should do

Although you had, I think, already made your mind up not to tell him what you thought.

After all, it wasn’t as if he had done anything really wrong.

     O that one, he said.

You have to imagine-

The boy was getting too big for ponies

So I bought him a horse

For two thousand pounds

Only for him to tell us, no more than about two weeks later

That he had lost interest.

Why didn’t you tell me that before I spent the two grand?

Was what I wanted to say.

Not that I cared about the money; that wasn’t the important thing.

You have to imagine- I married late

I was forty-nine when the boy was born

And he’s just everything to me

And the riding- well, the missus has always ridden

And the boy rode a pony

And we used to have these wonderful times

When they’d go out on the horses

And I’d walk behind with the dogs

And they’d turn around from time to time

And call out Come on old man; try and keep up

And it was bliss, you know, those wonderful happy family times

And then they just ended; just like that

All on the whim of my nine-year-old son.

Now he seems to live in a world of his own.

But why did you want to hear all that again?

     I put down my now-empty glass.

     Shall we have one for the road? I asked.

     He swirled the last inch in his glass and looked doubtful.

     Do you think we should?

     And then Why not? He said.