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A Horse for Gordon

On the way to Aberfeldy; imbecilically behind schedule, needing fast horses, we call in on our old friend, Captain Gordon McClellan, he tells us that he can’t help us as his Cavalry unit still doesn’t have any fast horses, or any real horses at all, they only have relatively slow wooden horses, this is because real horses are expensive, messy, big, and can be dangerous, and he doesn’t like them, in fact, he says, he and all his troops are terrified of the animals, but, he says proudly, with all the wooden horse training they do, the next time there’s a battle with wooden horses, his unit will definitely win. However, Gordon says, a Cavalry general has asked Gordon to provide a horse to go hunting on, so, at the moment, Gordon does need a real horse.

I tell Gordon that, if he needs a horse, he should buy one, Gordon says that he doesn’t have any money. I tell him that the Cavalry normally pay for their horses, Gordon says that they did give him money to buy horses, but he didn’t get horses, he invested the money instead. Albert says that was probably unwise; normally, nobody agrees with Albert, or can understand anything he says, however, on this occasion, we think Albert is right, in fact, we add that Gordon must be incredibly stupid. But Gordon says that, while horselessness may be seen as a problem for a Cavalry unit, and the general who wants a hunting horse will be probably be cross when he is given a wooden horse instead of a real horse, but, on balance, the investment was not unwise, in fact he thinks that it was singularly brilliant; his Cavalry unit, he admits, may not have any real horses but, Gordon tells us, he invested the horse money in vintage single malt Scotch whisky, and has a fabulous selection in the regimental bar. We go there immediately, praising Gordon’s financial wisdom and loudly criticising Albert for being German and always being wrong about everything.

Juan says that, as Gordon needs a horse, we should get one for him. I say that that is a good idea and tell Rory to go and get a horse. Rory complains at being ordered around, but I remind him that he is always complaining that nobody trusts him to do anything important, except surgery, but right now we don’t need a surgeon, we need a horse, and it’s important, so get one. Rory says that he doesn’t have any money so he can’t afford a horse. Juan says that Rory could take hard cash. I throw Rory my kitbag and tell him he might find a few pennies, and pennies are hard. Rory says a few coins aren’t any good, he will need thousands of guineas for a good horse. I tell Rory he could get a bad horse but, for what use they are, there are thousands of Scottish one hundred pound notes in the bag, but nobody believes they are legal tender outside Scotland, and even the Scottish have their doubts, although not enough doubts to leave one lying on the pavement, or in someone’s pocket, if they saw it, but I don’t have any guineas.

Juan says that he didn’t mean ‘hard cash’ he meant ‘Hardcash’, the horse. I tell Rory that, even though Juan said it, it is a good idea and I was about to suggest the same thing, Dorothy Chandos-Pole says that Hardcash is the best horse she has ridden so, I explain to Rory, he must ingratiate himself into her ‘country set’ and join the hunt with Dorothy and her friends, that way they will trust him. Rory doesn’t want to ingratiate himself because he says it’s sneaky, and he wants to know why he has to join a hunt to prove that he is honest, as long as he buys the horse properly, he insists, they have no reason to doubt his honesty and, he adds, he hates hunting and he definitely does not want to chase a fox. I tell him that that isn’t a problem because, as Juan has already said, he should take Hardcash, and taking is free, so he won’t need any cash, hard or otherwise, and foxes aren’t dangerous and, I remind him, he will have a large pack of hounds to protect him, so he will be safe.

Rory has further objections but we ignore him because, just then, Gordon brings out barrels of The Macallan, Bummahabhainn, and a dozen bottles of Vintage Aberfeldy Private Reserve. We celebrate by drinking toast after toast to Rory’s success, a good horse and Gordon’s brilliant investment then, cheering, yelling, and singing ‘The Hunt is Up’ and ‘A-Hunting We Will Go’ at the top of our voices, we gallop around in circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary