Today I woke up thinking about Marjorie. She is a lady who used to live about two miles from us in Kent. We used to wander or drive around the country lanes, often getting lost and me getting car sick, looking at horses. My mum had fallen in love with them as a child when the rag and bone man used to go down her street with his horse. We met Marjorie in when we passed her house. She was tending her garden. My mother discovered that she had some horses and they became instant friends.
She was in her eighties when I met her. She had a feather in her head, a long flowing skirt and smelt of garlic. She later told me that she took garlic every day and that it kept her healthy and it was obvious that she was right.
She took in rescue horses from the Horse Protection League and they lived a peaceful life with her. When I knew her she had Minty a big Irish Hunter and Tarquin, a very stocky pony. I discovered that he was stocky becuse he drank a bucket of fresh cow’s milk every day. Yes, her and her husband, Arthur had cows too. They also had chickens, guinea fowl, cats and dogs. Roger was a scatty mongrel who used to jump all over you with excitement and then there was the little yorkie called Chad. Marjorie used to call him stinkpot because he rolled in the cowpats.
There was a gang of cats. Fifi was a tiny delicate little cat. She was the only one who chose to live indoors. She certainly thought she was the cat who got the cream because she had this snooty aura as though the other cats were beneath her as they lived outside. The outsiders bedded down in a huge barn where the hay and straw were kept. They all had their favourite places to sleep. I used to go in there to play with them. It was warm and cozy and smelt of hay. The cats had interesting names like Cheese who was well sort of cheese coloured, Wander, who did just that, Tiger who was a tabby of course and Peter, a lovely fluffy strawberry blondey ginger who would stand up on his hind legs to entice a stroke from you. Wonderful, happy cats.
Apart from Minty and Tarquin, Marjorie had two other ponies. They were New Forest frisky youngsters called Moon and Charlie. They were virtually wild. There was quite a lot of ground there and every morning Marjorie used to let them and Minty and Tarquin out into the fields. Every evening she used to trek down to the field, open the gate and just holler and they all used to go to their stables. I remember having to flatten myself against the cowshed when Moon and Charlie made a beeline for their stable. They stayed in the same one. They had never had so much as a headcollar on and were completely wild but adorable.
I remember when the blacksmith visited to trim their hooves. Marjorie assured him that they were completely tame and that he would have no trouble. All you could hear was bang crash, thump from the stable and the blacksmith eventually emerged, his hair like Worzel Gummidge and his clother rearranged and hanging off. He had succeeded but they had obviosuly given him a run for his money.
When Arthur, her husband died Marjorie continued to look after the house and animals herself which was no mean feat for a lady of her age. She had a security system that was better than anything ADT could offer. There were some Romany Gypsies living in a field a minute away from her property and they great liking and respect for Marjorie. They gave her a tin whistle and told her that if she heard anything or was worried about anything ever, all she had to do was blow the whistle and they would all come running. As back up she had a samurai sword under the bed. I do not know whether she had reason to use it.
Marjorie used to have the paper delivered and she used to identify articles that she liked and write letters of approvel to the authors or their offices. She had a diverse collection of friends from this exercise who used to write back and then visit her for interesting discussions. Dennis Wheatley was among this collection and I am not sure if this related to him or not, but for some reason my mind associates this with him.Anyway, one of her visitors would not use the front door but insisted on climbing through the window. She also kept in touch with Peggy Mason who was a spiritualist.
She was not generally a people person and chose who she wanted to associate with, so on reflection, we were some of the elect and quite privileged to have been let into her world.
I was a teenager at the time and I did not always relish the thought of going to see her as I wanted to spend time doing what I thought were “normal” things with regular people so I did not get to know her as well as I could have done. My parents used to go indoors and chat to her but as I recall she was not overfond of children and my sister and I used to be left to make our own entertainment outside. It was a wonderful place. As I said earlier, I used to visit the cats and wander around the orchard. I love the taste of apples when they are straight from the tree (I was a scrumper at times as well and I got chased by people, dogs and geese many times. The latter put the wind up me the most. I can understand why the Romans used them as guards. I was up before the beak a few times and just about escaped a pecking)
Marjoriee adored animals and was really competent with them, probably what would be called a “whisperer” nowadays. She thought that they were far superior beings to humans.When she was told that my sister was pregnant, apparently she just sniffed disdainfully and said “Oh how awwwwful”
Alas, old age comes to us all. Marjorie was eventually moved from her beautiful home (which she did not own but looked after for someone) into a care home. This lovely lady who had looked after rescue animals in a huge house with grounds became confined to one room with only her memories. I knew that she would not last long and she did not. I was very sad to hear about how she spent her last months.
Marjorie is one of the people that I wish I knew now. Now we would have wondeful discussions on animals and spiritual matters. Now we would have so much in common and I would love to listen to her tales. I would also love to spend some time with her Romany Gipsy friends. I used to just wave and say hi when I passed. That is the way life is sometimes. You meet people at a different time in your life when you are too young or not quite on their wavelength and then later, you look back and realise that NOW you would have so much to talk about. I even have this fantasy that she might actually like and approve of me now despite the fact that I am human.