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Thoughts Take Me

Wherever my day takes me, my thoughts find their own way to their own place..

After a disappointing summer, September began as though any hope of some sun had been cancelled for the year. The first week had squally showers, short but extremely sharp; the second added gales to the mix, it all felt very autumnal. It was during this second week that I had a 9am appointment in Newmarket.

The journey should have taken about two hours, especially at that time of day, but for some unfathomable reason the roads were clear all the way, and I arrived very early. That day would have been a good day to show you the place where I got started, the weather gave it a decidedly post war feel.

A place I know well, and have done for many years, this town has seen a few changes but none that have affected its essential nature, its heart. The sport of kings, which also had its birth here, sets a limit on the structure and layout of the existing town, and prevents its expansion by occupying all the available surrounding land.

There is hot refreshment to be found in the center of most towns, and this was no exception, and the aroma of coffee drew me inexorably there. Aahhhh the luxury of a medium cappuccino in a cardboard cup. Its rich aroma filled my senses, enhancing my thoughts, which turn, inevitably, to the one who holds my heart.

I drove out to the Bury Road to drink in the scenery, and to imbibe the sweetness of the coffee . Like an arrow's flight this tree-lined avenue stretched before me, to both left and right the twisting maze of the equine exercise areas, and further to my right a green gallop flowed through a wooded break to the horizon.

These trees were being shaken to their roots by the unseasonal blustery wind. Like thespians whose show must go on, they stood their ground, bending and stretching as they gesticulated to an unseen audience. They seemed as light in this performance as dancers, and as steadfast as angels in their resolve.

This is a town almost continually occupied by horses and their training. At any time of the day a line of thoroughbreds can be seen leaving their many stable yards; crossing the roads to the exercise rings and gallops; walking alongside the traffic and pedestrians on their own designated lanes along side the roads; and even through the streets close to the town center to points beyond.

As I pulled up to enjoy the scene, and the coffee, a string of these would be winners had already crossed the public roads. I gazed at their beauty and power as they trotted and cantered round the exercise grounds, whose concentric circles of white rails lead, maize like, to the open gallops beyond.

The energy and grace embodied in so many beautiful animals is a wonder to behold, their movement is fluid, restrained, and yet showing all their natural potential for speed! This image could only have been improved by having the perfect company the share it with.

The contrast between their pure physical presence out in the elements, and myself, cocooned in in steel box sipping a hot legally addictive stimulant, was palpable. Horse and rider moved as one, a galloping, two headed mythical beast from ancient Olympus. I sank deeper into the leather enjoying the sight, and the warming comfort of my drink.

After about half an hour the line of horses assembled to return home. Stopping the traffic they walked in single file at a slow but even pace. Well it would have been had not many of them stumbled awkwardly as the walked passed my field of vision.

I was only twenty yards from them and was drawn to this ungainly procession, it was as though Olympic athletes had all developed the same strain in their muscles or tendons, at the same time. There was no longer a gold medalist among them.

On closer examination these previously graceful beasts seemed to be malformed. Breeding has optimized their make-up creating a front that competed with the muscular size of their hind quarters. It is obvious that they are bread for one thing alone, and that is speed! So everything else is compromised, and walking slowly is especially difficult.

The riders who dismounted, and lead their charges on the bridle had less trouble than those who continued to ride, but even these had some difficulties. The contrast between their two states, the grace and beauty of the gallops compared to the awkward gait of their return, was almost palpable.

Realizing that it was getting close to the time of my appointment, I drained the last of my coffee and drove to the other end of the town center, parked and left almost all thoughts of this equine decorated vista behind. I walked purposefully to commence the battle of wills that is my occupation, my calling.

Financially the morning was not perfect, I made some progress with this client, and even a little money, but my main objectives were not achieved. Of course I would not be giving up, but for the time being I would have to withdraw from the field undefeated, but not victorious.

I had another sale to make that afternoon in a market town about an hours drive away. The journey there was largely uneventful, the route is simple and familiar, my biggest problem was keeping my concentration. I came to my journey's end in the large area where the market had held sway many moons ago.

Having paid for, and displayed the appropriate parking ticket, I walked towards the river that flows lazily passed the east end of Saint Mary's Church. I stood on the raised bank, leaning on the balustrade, looking across the water to the once great stained-glass window, remembering a time when I had been a chorister there.

My memories were of swans gliding on the water here, arriving each spring like a new season of the Kirov. Even their seemingly dirty gray signets had the appearance of the corps de ballet, but all there were before me were ducks!

Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of Ducks! The striking green colors flash defiantly in the sun; the quack, so unique and instantly recognizable; and their restrained aggression has a winning way for me.

These ducks were out of water on the far bank, crossing from where a couple had been feeding them the remains of their picnic. Far from the grace with which they would, I knew, be traversing the river in a few minutes, they waddled as only ducks can.

It does not matter whether they run or walk, ducks are not made for dry land, but once they reach anything deeper than a puddle they come into their own. The smooth power they display brings joy, not just to the observer but, I believe, to the birds themselves, they can really go! A sight best shared for maximum pleasure, I made a mental note.

I realized, as they scrambled into the river racing expectantly towards me, that I was in danger of both disappointing them, and wasting time which I did not have. Leaving these water-fowl to ponder their error of judgment (I had no bread to throw for them) I walked through the churchyard to my next prospect.

A sale is a victory they say, and that afternoon I was victorious! Every proposition (well almost every one) was greeted with approval and agreement. As I left the building I decided on another coffee to make the journey home a more pleasant one. I headed for that international symbol of decadence, Starbucks!

Almost hidden in a corner of The Old Market Square, I entered this welcoming establishment to get my reward, a tall latte. Beverage in hand, a few minutes later I returned through The Churchyard, passed the rather uninspiring and characterless modern market.

This rather dull assembly occupied the spot where the town's department store had once graciously welcomed its customers; and the junior school, named in honor of Saint Andrew, had enlightened many thousands of local children, including myself.

Such wholesale destruction of the heart of an historic town still has me shocked years after it was done and dusted. Heading for home I reflected on my day, some parts successful and some less so, but the things that came to the fore were the horses and the ducks. Here were creatures perfectly adapted for one environment but disadvantaged in another.

There seems to be a pure joy to the equine gallops, and the aquatic world of ducks, but when out of their ideal environment they lost their natural lust for life. This reminded me of myself, before we met, when I was like a fish out of water. Now I swim with the tides in an ocean so blue you would think it defined the color.

Being where it should always be doesn't make a horse run further, or a duck swim faster, parentage and doing it over again will take care of that. Loving you, and being loved in return, hasn't made me a better worker, I'm as productive as I always was, where that is concerned, there are still good days and those we don't dwell on.

It has created that tingle I feel in every nerve of my body, the rhythmic beating of my heart, and the smile I can't keep to myself, try as I might. This change displays to the world that I have arrived at the place I was always meant to be.

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