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.