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On sticking out like a sort thumb - in a velvet hat

Some things just... fit. Cocktails in a jamjar in an artfully grimy South London bar. The smell of sunscreen under a tropical sky. The gentle crunch underfoot of unknown detritus on the kitchen floor the morning after a party.

And some things, well they just don't.

The Writer and I rolled back to the flat late one recent one Friday night. Stuffed full of Sri Lankan food (rather better than most of the food we had whilst on holiday in Sri Lanka, as it happens), BYOB, and War and Cake's frankly debaucherous millionaire shortbread, there was nothing that would have been more welcome than collapsing straight into bed for a long digesting lie-in and a lazy Saturday.

But I'm apparently not someone who makes terribly practical decisions about weekend plans. And so due at Kings Cross at 08.30 the next morning to catch a train to be halfway up the country for a day's hunting (of which there's frustratingly little to be found in South London) – a sport that, along with a decent sense of balance and slightly less than half a sense of reasonable self-preservation, requires its participants to be properly turned out - there was no straight to bed for me.

Rather than snuggling under the duvet I found myself frantically running around a small one-bedroomed flat in the centre of Brixton at close to midnight, spinning in front of the sitting room mirror to see whether black pants were visible through buff jodhpurs while the iron heated up in the kitchen to sort out the tangle of creases that was formally my stock. (The less said about my ironing on a tea-towel on a kitchen side, rather than the board, the better.)

At the same time, I was trying – with partial success – to make sure my black riding boots were in presentable (that is, not covered toe to knee in dried-on mud) condition after some harlot had clearly returned them in a filthy condition instead of cleaning them off before they went back in the cupboard. Ahem.

Of course, being in the aforementioned one-bed Brixton flat and not a sizeable pile in the Home Counties complete with boot room and trough sink, and I found myself rootling round for a stock pin and hair net in the bottom of the bag with one hand, and using the other to scrape the remains of a Northamptonshire field off my boots with nothing more than an elderly packet of baby wipes, having eschewed the getting-mud-all-over-the-bottom-of-the-shower option. Classy? No. Effective enough that errant splatters could be passed off at the meet as acquired while staggering through a puddle during an inelegant mount? Sure.

None of which, of course, came anywhere near the experience of having to leave the house at half seven the following morning. It might feel slightly out of kilter to have equine paraphernalia scattered all over one's bijou SW2 sitting room late on a Friday night. But it's a damn sight less surreal than, on a Saturday morning when most self-respecting urbanites – heels in hand – are staggering out of their morning-after Ubers, to be walking through central London in full hunting kit, a hat peak and whip sticking out of one's bag, aware of the subtle and not-so looks and whispers that suggest no one south of the river has seen a bottom in jodhpurs since the publication of Riders in the 80s.

Still, who wants to fit in, eh? And I should confess that the boots, happily quarantined in a plastic Countryside Alliance bag in the back of the wardrobe, didn't go back clean this time either...

This post first appeared on Against Her Better Judgment, please read the originial post: here

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On sticking out like a sort thumb - in a velvet hat


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