It's Camilla Parker Bowles, bearing down on me

When her husband ran off with a male model, she soldiered on bravely as Wiltshire women do
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The Independent Culture
IT WAS a deal. My horsy friend would take me to a horse auction in the morning and I would take her to a food fair in the evening. She is very greedy as well as very horsy and wears a badge saying Legalise Canapes. I got very excited at the prospect of a horse auction, imagining myself rubbing shoulders with gimlet-eyed bloodstock agents prepared to part with millions for a future Derby winner.

What on earth would I wear? All the women I felt sure would look like Camilla Parker Bowles, who someone close to the throne told me recently, once said to her daily "be a dear Mrs P and have a look for my saddle. I know it's somewhere in my bedroom." Apparently she is very untidy but I don't think it matters if you're only morganatic.

"I've found a Hermes scarf to knot under my chin," I told my horsy friend. "But I'm not sure about footwear. Green wellies or navy blue court shoes, plain but obviously expensive?"

Nicky laughed. It wasn't that sort of auction she said. It was basically gypsies selling dubiously acquired ponies to the knackers for horsemeat. She was only going on the off chance that she might spot some of the tack she had stolen recently. The place was full of villains doing furtive deals in Romany behind trailers. As for the women... "But aren't gypsy girls ravishingly beautiful?" I interrupted. Remember the divine Esmeralda whose luminous beauty fired Frollo with such impious passion. Nicky laughed again. "Hard-faced bitches more like," she said. "Just you wait and see."

So I did and she was right about pretty much everything, the furtive deals, the Romany, the women and saddest of all the ponies.

Oh dear. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to go on with this. There was this huge trailer parked just ahead of the fleet of shiny new pounds 45,000, top of the range, four-wheel drive, long wheel-base Toyota Amazon VX's, in which most of the gypsy traders had arrived, out of which were stumbling the smallest, shaggiest sweetest little ponies I have ever seen. One little black fellow, no bigger than a Labrador fixed me with piteous pleading eyes. Surely these weren't going to end up on the butcher's slab. "They'll probably be curry by Friday," said Nicky absent mindedly. She was looking at a fine big, black horse with white socks tied to a rail. "Now what's a horse like him doing in a place like this I wonder. Probably his owner went bankrupt and the receiver has put him in for auction. Come on I've had enough of this let's go and have lunch."

And then just as we were turning out of the main yard a plumy voice called, "I say Sue is that really you. What on earth are you doing here?" And there was Camilla Parker Bowles, Hermes-scarfed and green-wellied bearing down on me. Not really of course but the nearest thing to it this side of Gloucestershire. I have known Virginia Gatling-Krupp for years, even occasionally stayed at her second-division Wiltshire stately with the usual quota of ponies, Labradors and children called Piers. When her husband ran off with a male model Virginia soldiered on bravely as Wiltshire women do till the last little Gatling-Krupp went away to Eton and she sold the house and moved to Scotland.

"Gosh Virginia are you buying a pony for Piers?" I said confused. She didn't seem to have changed a bit. "Good heavens no I'm here with Jim," she said indicating a sinister figure with gold teeth, a gold earring and a gold Rolex making fertive deals in Romany behind a trailer. How Virginia came to leave Perthshire and run away with the raggle-taggle gypsies I never found out because Nicky said that if we didn't hurry we'd miss lunch because the Moti Mahal closed at two.

Bearing in mind her callous remark about the ponies it was an unfortunate choice but my mind was too pre-occupied with Virginia and Jim to think about my curry.

As for the Food Fair, it was everything that a canape addict dreams about - 97 different varieties of sushi served on glass trays which flashed blue zig-zag lightening whenever you grasped a loaded cocktail stick. To be perfectly honest I'm not crazy about sushi but at least you could tell it wasn't pony. "Have you any blowfish?" A connoisseur asked the Japanese chef. No, he said it was out of season. Blowfish is poisonous except in the mating season which is the only time you can kill it. What's more, he added, if a chef serves a poisoned blowfish to a customer (it happens sometimes) the chef is required to commit hari-kari immediately. Too bad they don't make horse butchers do the same.

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