Monday, 27 July 2009

Knowing nothing about something

We've had horses ever since I was about five years old. Every day after school and every weekend was spent at the stables; mucking out, messing about, tearing around, rugging up and hosing down. My sister got her first pony aged 10, a 13.2 hands chestnut welsh, and I got mine when I was 16. I paid for him with my own money. He was 16 hands, a thoroughbred cross and he cost £1,800.

Our family's life pretty much revolved around this expensive hobby. Between going to shows, hunter trials and Pony Club camps, to vets fees and box rest, the horses were the centre of everything. Arguments, spare time, holidays and weekends. Dropping off, picking up. Christmas Day didn't start until the horses had been sorted out and my university choice was hugely influenced by the fact that there were stables around the corner from my halls. My sister's aging pony went to a retirement home in Lincolnshire. I finished uni and decided to put my horse out on full loan instead of bringing him back to London. After 19 years, we were horseless.

As much as I don't regret giving up riding, there's this feeling like I've lost my specialism. As I sat in a field in Oxford on Saturday afternoon watching a polo match, with a friend patiently explaining the rules of the game to me, I realised how much I miss having that in depth knowledge about something. At uni I was all over films and literature. Before that I knew everything there was to know about horses, particularly mine. But now it seems as if there's nothing I can speak with any authority about.

By the end of the afternoon I was quite taken by the game, the thundering hooves and the sheer speed and agility of the players. Later that evening at the Polo Club's summer ball, I got more of an insight into this strange world, where the 'entertainment' included err, three polo players 'tacking up' three female grooms, down to the bandages around their legs. Ahem. It was surreal, a little bit mental, but hilarious - suddenly I was thrown into this scene that I've only ever read about in Jilly Cooper's book Polo.

I feel like I want to be involved with something again, build up a little knowledge bank or learn something new. My first polo lesson is in the pipeline for my birthday, and if I'm going to be unemployed (1st rejection email of the week arrived in my inbox this afternoon), I at least want to be using the time wisely.

So, any suggestions for things I can fill my brain / time with? Link me up. Let's get clever.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. It really depends what you like and what you're interested in...for me, it would be learning a language (probably Italian), learning how to build websites or studying animal psychology. Something un-academic that I will be doing when it's cooler is running...

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Aha! Learning a language. How can I do this for free? Are there any free thingiebobs for learning a language on the tinternet, or podcasts?

miss*H said...

me too. I'd like to learn Thai, Japanese and Russian. You can buy books and cd's from amazon and I think there are some free web courses and websites.

nuttycow said...

iTunes do free language podcasts but I think for the advanced stuff, you really need to pay. Or, try learndirect (the Government site) as they have courses and whatnot on there.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Ah, merci buckets. So, learn a language. Maybe I'll do French, seeing as I'm almost fluent in it anyway.

(oui madame! la cochon habite un grand maison!)

Ellie said...

I'm probably cynical, but I don't think you'll learn a language any other way but going to that place and staying there among them.

And where are you getting polo lessons for free?!! Swish!

I'm looking to pick up golf clubs. I kind of despise myself for it, but it's gotten obvious that it is a way to smooze with the 'people who matter'. Pardon me while I retch.

Huw said...

I'm taking up Karate this autumn. It is by no means free, but I am moving to a new part of the country (new to me - there hasn't been a large landslide or something), and I figured "It will help me meet people, and if they all turn out to be dicks at least I'll be able to duff people up".

Maybe you could become your area's local historian?

Look, don't ask me. I'm a nerd.

Brennig said...

Language podcasts. There's a gazillion of them and they're free!

Declaring an interest here... I am a podcaster. But it's barely in any language you've ever heard. :-)

Brennig said...

Re: horses, try and get riding work exercising for folk?

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Do I remember correctly that in addition to the horses, you've also dabbled in music? The piano? Well, if that's the case, now is the time to embrace it again. It's good for your brain, fun to do and it makes you the center of attention in a crowded room. Plus, there's nothing sexier than a girl sitting at a piano. Take it from me.

Homer said...

Good god, I would never have had you down as the horsey sort, let alone pony club and gymkhanas. In my head you're a kind of Kate Moss sort who would have hung out at shopping centres as a teenager with a fag on, looking cool and aloof.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Ellie - Only free because they'll be a birthday pressie!
As for taking up golf - urgh. Rather you than me.

Huw - Not a bad suggestion, I could become just a general wealth of knowledge on London. They might even get me on BBC Breakfast.

Brennig - Aha! Podcasting, maybe I'll teach myself the ropes. As for horses suggestion, have considered that. Never sure whether I should be paid or pay for the priviledge?

Unbearable - Another good suggestion. We have an electric piano sitting dormant in the dining room, just waiting for my tinkling fingers. Or massive hooves, whatever.

Homer - Ahh, I hate to disappoint. Think Kate Moss but mousier, shorter, uglier and smeared with mud and manure. Then we're close.

Lynx said...

Coincidentally, I was at the polo on Sunday (Cartier International Day at Windsor), watching England getting a sound thrashing from the Argies.

I think you should definitely give it a go, as long as you don't want to play left-handed (not allowed). If you get good enough to be a professional that'll be the job situation taken care of. Even if you don't, there will still be lots of fit, young, hot-blooded men to play with. ;-)

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

That's what I'm hoping ;) I'm right handed , so should be good to go!


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