I don’t want to keep harking back to the riots, because I think most of us yearn to move on from those awful few days when Western civilisation briefly teetered dizzily on the rim of the moral abyss and God and his saints truly slept, to paraphrase Metro – I still have horrible memories of walking to the post office on Greenwich High Road at 3 p.m., and finding it closed – but… yesterday afternoon, cycling home past the southern wall of the park after a short excursion east to try to get my head round Plumstead – more of that another time, once I’ve got my thoughts in order – I came across a worrying notice sellotaped to a lamp post close by Blackheath Gate.
“Ned”, it said, “still missing”.
Ned, it turned out, was a five-year-old black labrador who’d recently gone AWOL from his home in SE3. A very sad state of affairs, of course, and I certainly don’t want to add to the distress of his owners in their time of tribulation, but… I wonder if they’re telling us the whole story? Because Ned, the notice said, was “last sighted running past Matalan in Lewisham towards Deptford”.
Oh, Ned! You silly, foolish dog! Were you just caught up in the heat of the moment? Did the adrenaline that pulsed through your daft doggy veins as you saw the smashed glass, wide-open doors, and hysterical, wild-eyed crowds, cause you to drop your moral compass like it was some old chewed tennis ball and leap, teeth bared, for the bright immoral frisbee of desire? Or was it the taunts and jeers of your peers that goaded you? Did a streetwise Staffie Cross from New Cross Gate mock your Blackheath accent, call you a poodle, deride you for not joining in? Are you, as I write, shivering in some squalid cellar at the foot of Tanners Hill, hungry and scared, fearful of every passing siren… and still, even now, not quite understanding what in the name of Scooby Doo possessed you to seize the seventies-print halter-neck playsuit and a three-pack of Pringle sports socks that lie crumpled uselessly between your trembling paws?
Come home, Ned. You need to face the consequences of your actions, yes, but your family still love you, and will forgive you. In truth, they blame themselves.
Say “Equus” to most people and they’ll immediately think of Sidney Lumet’s 1976 film about a teenage stable boy whose religiously inspired sexual fascination with horses culminates in an extended full-frontal nude scene with Jenny Agutter, as most things did in the mid-seventies. But it turns out that Equus is also the name of an American magazine for people who love horses in quite a different way, and I know this because I had an email last week from Fran, one of its columnists, asking how things were: American riders coming to Greenwich for the Olympics had been hearing reports of our riots, it seemed, and were getting jittery.
It’s at times like this one realises what an extraordinary thing the internet is; one moment I’m cheerily tagging photos of Noodle Time’s chipboard hoardings with the words “Greenwich riots”, and the next I’m advising the US Olympic Dressage Team on whether there’s likely to be anything occurring here next summer that might – and here again I’m forced to recall Miss Agutter’s energetic performance amid the dimly lit straw bales – frighten the horses.
Anyway – if anyone’s interested in a Stateside take on Greenwich’s riots, there’s one in the latest issue of Equus, along with an interesting piece on how to remove bot fly eggs. And, aware that Fran has linked to this blog and that being International Horse Consultant carries certain responsibilities, can I take this opportunity to point out to readers of Equus that since the eggs are, I believe, “sticky and yellowish and shaped like small grains of rice”, it might be best to check whether Dobbin has recently eaten a paella before getting to work with the bot knife.
[More riot photos on the Flickr page page...]