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Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 02 April 2014
I like to think that I am, mostly, a perfectly lovely person. This of course is a delusion. I can be scratchy, unreasonable, and shockingly intolerant, especially of bores and people who invade my personal or mental space. (I try to plaster on a phoney smile, but it does not work.) I can also be ranty, go off on far too many tangents, and grow monomaniacal when it comes to racing or politics.


I suspect that most humans try to hold on to the illusion of loveliness, unless they are called Vladimir Putin. My simulacrum slips most shockingly when I am under the weather. For the last four days I have had a nasty bug, which brings with it the kind of abdominal pain which makes me lie on the floor and shout, much to the astonishment of the dog. At times like this, life cannot stop. I still have to stagger up and get on with things and deal with people. This is where the mask slips. Anyone who asks me to do anything I consider unreasonable, which in this case is everything, gets an awful icy curtness. Politeness, my watchword, flees for the hills, where it builds itself a bivouac for the duration. I am ashamed of myself. Mostly, I want to tell everyone to bugger off and leave me alone.

In this cross, weakened state, I go up to work with a group of people who are battling with post-traumatic stress. Ha, say the voices of the perspective police, you are acting like an ogre because you have one little bug, whilst here are people who have a relentless condition which can make the most taken for granted aspects of daily life feel like climbing Everest. It is the taken for granted which I think of, at times like this. It is things like being able to sleep. So simple, and so crucial, and so lost, for those in the crocodile jaws of PTSD. One sufferer once told me that the hissing sound of a bus door can send him diving for the ground on a crowded city street. The startle reflex is constantly off the scale. Going to the shop to buy food can be an ordeal.


I think about perspective a lot. I can’t quite work it out. Obviously, everyone is allowed to be a bit grumpy sometimes. One can’t be a little ray of sunshine every moment of every day. It’s no good my saying: well, I am living in a liberal democracy with a body and mind which mostly work, so I can complain of nothing. That would be absurd and lead to ulcers. On the other hand, I do think that the counting of blessings is an important thing. When I am in danger of plummeting into the slough of despond, I am quite glad that my perspective police are stern and unforgiving. They haul me up and give me a good talking to and set me straight. I can’t say that they save me entirely from my worst self, but when I am on the verge of turning into a monster I am glad that those blue sirens start to flash.

All aflutter

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 29 November 2012
To Newmarket, the cradle of British horseracing, for a tour of the Jockey Club Rooms, the October yearling sales and lunch at Tattersalls – enough to set any racing enthusiast’s heart aflutter.

I am here courtesy of Weatherbys Hamilton, a new private-client insurance venture based on personal service and generations of expertise. Roger Weatherby – of the eponymous family business that runs the Stud Book, offers bloodstock insurance and provides many of racing’s administrative services – has joined forces with high-value insurance expert Charles Hamilton, to offer a wider bespoke service covering household and country property as well as racehorses.


After coffee in the Morning Room, Senior Rooms Steward Alan Medlock takes us on a tour of the Jockey Club’s impressive art collection, including portraits of racing legends Gimcrack and Eclipse, as well as several paintings by Stubbs.  We also visit the notorious Steward’s Room, where offending jockeys used to stand trial for their misdemeanours on a square of carpet – hence the expression “on the mat”.

Later, during Mr Hamilton’s presentation I learn that a top racing stallion can earn hundreds of millions by standing at stud in his retirement. The yearlings going under the hammer today are the progeny of such elite athletes – the equine equivalent, as he put it, of Jessica Ennis having a baby with Usain Bolt. No wonder some owners choose to insure them from the very moment of purchase.

Down the road to Tattersalls then, with some trepidation, for the high-profile auction – among the consigners today are Lord Lloyd-Webber and various Sultans and Sheikhs. What if I have a must-buy moment? Or if I twitch and accidentally place a bid? With prices starting at 80,000 guineas and rising into six figures and even millions, it is an alarming prospect. (At £1.05 to a guinea, even worse than it looks.)

juanita -Jockey-Club-Rooms
Leggy colts and fillies walk the ring like supermodels, all glossy manes and nonchalant looks. Their glittering pedigrees entice with the promise of sporting success (the catalogue is peppered with household names like Sea the Stars and Galileo). This is fantasy shopping at its finest, and not unlike admiring the couture shows: a license to dream and ignore the too-many noughts.
Lunch is a lavish affair overlooking the pre-parade ring, and as the wine flows freely, Mr Weatherby and his colleagues entertain us with racing anecdotes. While they wave casually at famous trainers and owners across the room, I admit to being more than a little star-struck.

When my prince comes and I get a stately and a stable full of racehorses, I know where I’ll go for insurance. In the meantime, Cinderella trots home with a smile, after a cracking winner of a day out.

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Words by Juanita Coulson.

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