Samantha David is a freelance journalist and writes for various publications including BBC Online, the Sunday Times, the FT, Living France, everything France, and France Magazine

Samantha David, writer

Le Dernier Mot - articles by Samantha David



      When I first heard the words "horse show" they conjured up visions of polite girls called Charlotte and Josephine trotting along in their best hacking jackets on fat ponies adorned with rosettes.

      "Oh how nice, I said vaguely.  (I was giving Bella her spring clip.)


      "Mmmm, turn round, Maggot.  Let me do the other side..."


      "How nice, dear.  Stop wriggling, dog.  Get your tail out of my mouth."

      "I'm jousting..."

      "What?  You're what?"

      This equine extravaganza was suddenly sounding far more Zingaro than Princess Zara.  It sounded downright dangerous, in fact.

      "You've got to make me a page's outfit, and I need a tricorn and a lance," ordered the Horsemad Daughter.  A long one.  For stabbing people..."

      "Huh?  Where's the Senior Partner?  What does he say about all this?  Maggot, be still!"

      It turned out that the horse show was exactly that: a theatrical spectacular on horseback, a trot through history from the Stone Age ("we're wearing sheepskins and riding bareback, Mummy!") to the 18th Century.  The HD was still babbling: "Poor Emilie, she's got to wear a white wig and do boring old dressage on Shanoopa, and you know what he's like - practically a sofa.  I'm so glad I'm jousting..."

      Bella rolled her little black eyes and stuck her tongue out.  If there was a show, would there be a cake stand?  (She hasn't been rescued long, but she's already an expert at making tea tables wobble and hoovering up the resulting crumb showers.)

      "You've got to make one cake, one savoury plate, and bring a bottle of drink, Mummy."

      "Litre of gin?" said the Senior Partner.

      "Be serious, Daddy!  And you've both got to come and you can't be late and I've got to have a thingy for Moon.  You know a horse's jousting coat.  A long flappy thing.  A sheet will do.  But we're not putting it over his face or he'll go potty when we start galloping.  Blindfold.  You know, ventre à terre... especially with the shears..."

      "You mean spears..."

      "Custard, mustard... it's not my fault I get mixed up.  Listen, I've got to have this whatjacallit painted on the sheet.  And on my back... in blood red, Mummy.  Blood red!"

      This is clearly not going to be anything like the gentle English gymkhanas of my youth.  We're all going to be roped in: parents are going to paint scenery on sheets (I'm getting increasingly worried about whose sheets) and supervise rehearsals, costume making, prop building and the tea tent.  Yes, and then having supplied the costumes, brought the cakes and tea, paid for rehearsals, props and make-up, we will then be paying to watch the show and sell savoury plates to ourselves.  What joy.

      But there's worse.  "Oh and I told them you could juggle, Mummy.  So you can be a medieval clown.  In red and yellow tights.  To entertain the crowd.  You know, while they're waiting for us to clean the red paint off and get ready to cross the Alps."

      "Wasn't that elephants?  Hannibal?"

      "No Mummy, that's a film.  Duh!"

      "Someone's education has sprung a leak," observed the SP.  "Time for apèros, I'd say."

      I was rooted to the spot.  Can you imagine it?  Me capering about in a jester's outfit while all the other mothers are there looking elegant and deliciously cool in light cotton frocks and sun hats.  No way.

      "Girls can't be jesters!" I protested.

      "Oh that doesn't matter, Mummy.  Don't be silly!  We haven't got any boys in the show but we're going to be knights, and pages and cavemen and savages and soldiers...

      "Ah ha!" said the SP, opening the crisps enthusiastically.  "A transvestite horse show..."





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