• neil

Day 41 (27 April): Speak your mind, but ride a fast horse


Monday, and like Roy Rogers, I’m back in the saddle.

As soon as I wrote that I realised a lot of you youngsters will have no idea who I’m talking about. Roy Rogers, the Singing Cowboy and his horse Trigger!

When I was a lad every time you switched on the TV there would be a cowboy on one of the two stations.

They were often a teeny bit odd and I’m not sure you would want to leave your kids alone with them. Take the Lone Ranger. Big white hat and a peekaboo mask. What was that all about? He couldn’t go to the shops for a Milky Bar without shouting “Hi Ho Silver Away!”and making the horse rear - which must have got up the poor beast's nostrils. What a prima donna!

His political correctness was more than suspect. Tonto, his Comanche side kick, was only there so the big man would have somebody to talk to. Tonto called The Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe” and as the rhyme has it:

"The Lone Ranger and Tonto rode the trail Catching outlaws and putting them in jail But the Ranger shot old Tonto 'cause it seems He found out what Kemo Sabe means”

Whole days spent kicking open saloon doors, drinking shots, shooting indigenous peoples with never a trace of blood, eating beans and spitting.

You wonder when they got time to do their yoga?

Its not so much a question of 'Why did we lose our fascination with cowboys?' as much as 'What on earth drew us to them in the first place?'.

Obviously Doris ‘Calamity Jane’ Day will forever have a place on my lust list and Clint Eastwood single handedly made the genre edgy for a while with 'Pale Rider' and 'Unforgiven'. But there is little inherently sexy about rounding up animals. Those six year olds in their classrooms are not putting 'shepherd' on their dream jobs list next to 'astronaut' and 'gynaecologist'.

Never, when I round up my daughter’s guinea pigs from the garden, have the neighbouring ladies swooned at their windows.

Here in 2020 it would seem the forked tongue pale-faces have ridden their last iron horse.

Nostalgia is never a good barometer of quality.

So many of the programmes from the sixties and seventies, with notable exceptions such as Noggin the Nog and the Magic Roundabout*, were complete shite.

The breadth, depth and quality of what is available today far surpasses what was available then. Imagine how you would feel in lockdown with no internet and just two black and white channels. You would soon get tired of 'The Persuaders'.

Not so much nostalgia

After my bottle of Duvel ( see yesterday’s blog - its the only way I’m going to get the stats up) I fancied another little drink. Unfortunately, all that was left were several twenty something year old bottles of Kina Karo.

This is a drink made by my old neighbour Paul, when I lived in the south of France. He had vineyards and used to mix left over white wine with pure alcohol and a savant mixture of herbs to produce this stuff. Think dry sherry mated with a sledge hammer. Not anybody's first choice in the sun.

But it brought to mind a story and being as we were waxing nostalgic I shall relate it to you - as an antidote.

Paul was from the last generation to work the vines with horses. Around 1964 they invested in tractors and horses were no longer needed. One day a huge truck arrived to take the gee gees away but they were too scared to walk up the ramp.

Paul: So my father stepped forward. He walked in front of the horses, went to the far end of the truck and just whistled. They had worked years with my father and they trusted and loved him. Quietly and calmly they all made their way up the ramp and settled down in the truck

Neil: And they went off to fields for a well earned pension?

Paul: What? No, of course not, they went to the abattoir.

Different times. Harder timers. Not much place for nostalgia there.

The modalities of sleep

A lot of us have changed our sleeping habits, going to bed later and getting up later. But the way in which we sleep probably remains the same.

I, of course, sleep on my back, legs akimbo next to the embers, covered only by my poncho, rifle to hand and my head on Trigger’s bum.

Others sleep in these different ways. The author of this article maintains the way in which we sleep is significant. In my experience she has neglected at least three other sleep modes.

Sleeping slumped in you chair in a meeting: always fun when somebody else does it.

Sleeping with your head on a stranger's shoulder on public transport: this involves drooling and a dim awareness of having farted as you wake up and find everyone staring at you. Just ask if anybody is seeking the Lord. They’ll look elsewhere before you finish the sentence.

Sleeping in any position in your own bed before sex: This happens when you’ve had a tough day at work, you have had a couple of beers to wind down and your partner has spent 30 minutes achieving maximum sexy in the bathroom - while you wait for her in bed.

Don’t do this. Stay awake and catch up on your sleep in meetings.

Today’s Duolingo Dutch Phrase

“Zij zijn zijn zoons” English: “I have a speech impediment”

I was going to do the dusting now but I decided to place my faith in something Quentin Crisp said:

“There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse.”

Happy Trails!



* The BBC took this French programme and, quite brilliantly, completely ignored the original script in their voice over.

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