Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Bonzer Day (part two)

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A beautiful, beautiful bride ,,
And the groom’s not half bad either…!



I don’t go to weddings. Up till today, I had been to just two in 64 years … clients of mine, in the days of my West End theatrical agency, and thus ‘obligatory’. Neither marriage lasted the year, I seem to remember. But I’m sure it will be ‘third time lucky’.
I simply had to break my ‘no weddings and funerals’ rule, this time, but for different reasons. For I think I can truthfully say that I did my part in making this happen.
Sarah, today’s bride, has been almost ‘family’ at Gerolstein for quite a few years. At first, she was the Nurse Maude nurse who helped me – and, oh goodness, how she helped me – through the difficult years of Ian’s last illness and death. And, afterwards, she continued to visit, to help me in keeping this ‘bachelor’ house in order.
Tony is the local locksmith, and he came here one day to change all the locks around the place after we’d suffered a visitation from a local ratbag. He was visibly in bad form, so, when the job was done, we opened a couple of bottles and he confided in me the history of a faithless wife and a marriage that had just ended.
Two lovely, giving, golden-hearted people, alone and not wanting to be ... ‘what’, I thought, ‘if I could get them together…’, and so I slid into match-making mode. Once I’d made sure the right facts had gone into the right ears, I was able to slide out of the picture. From there on in, they certainly didn’t need me!



And so, today, in a lovely simple sun-soaked ceremony in the garden of their Rangiora home, with Sarah’s sister as celebrant, and surrounded by their families, Sarah became Mrs Tony Beal. And no-one was happier than I.



Unless it be Sarah’s daughter, Lara – I met her when she was nine, and a few years later gave her dear old Dodo (Master Ado) for a riding horse -- oh boy, look at her now! ..
and Tony’s son, Sam, a delightful young man whom I met for the first time today, and who – like Lara – spoke his piece in the ceremony with considerable style.



Dear Sarah, dear Tony … you have many happy years together before you. Through them, please take with you … much love from Kurt

A double-headed Bonzer Day (part one)

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I remember forty years ago and more visiting Motukarara racetrack and thinking it was one the most agreeable racing venues at which to spend a happy and sunny day out. I still think that. I also often think that I enjoy trials programmes more than actual raceday… and of course when our horses are running, and running well that just puts the candy on the cake.
Today, there was no problem about the sun. It was searing down at a round 30 degrees. And there were no problems with the horses!
Elena ran first, in a splendid thirteen one-win-horse field. How nice to see real ‘rehearsal races’ at the workouts instead of two or three beasts doing a glorified bit of home-training. John and Gavin being on duty elsewhere, Murray again got into the cart behind Elena, and she was in for a little bit of a surprise! There is no better driver in New Zealand than Murray for ‘gentling’ a horse into doing what he wants. With Elena, that’s not always so easy as she has a very strong mind of her own, and I have a bundle of scrapes and cuts and bruises to prove it.
So, against Elena’s ‘rules’ (race on the outside to give her ‘space’), Murray eased her to the inside, surrounded by horses, and she didn’t freak! Since we intend to race her Thursday, she was there for a stiff but not gutbusting cruise around, and that’s what she got. But with a finish. Murray pulled her from the back, three wide round the turn, and let her run home.. and run she did. There would have been five or six horses lined up across the track in the ‘photo for second’ and she was one of them. If Murray had turned the whip she would have been second. Very pleasing.
Photo.



No, not Elena this time, we have rather a lot of those. Yes, that’s Murray, but this is Fritzl. The other little boy, with Seppl, in the prize-winning old baby picture I posted here a few weeks back. Fritzl (The Soldier Fritz) started his career with a boom and a whistle, running fourth in the New Zealand Trotting Stakes for babies last season, but baby days are over and now its time for him to tackle grown-up racehorses. Today was his first tackle and I was a bit stunned the see him drawn in a heat with Glenbogle, the winner of sixteen races and a Grand Circuit champion, making a return to racing after a long injury. Glenbogle was handicapped to 150 metres behind, but when they lined up .. what! .. someone had forgotten to bring the 150m tape, so Glenbogle started right alongside our wee boy. Rather like a junior athlete alongside an Olympic medallist! Like me, the day I ran in an 800 metres heat against Peter Snell (led briefly, faded, last). And a standing start, too …
They all went away safely, under the whitening sun, Murray easing Fritzl slowly but surely into third place, but out of the straight on lap one, he pulled out and went to the front, and there he stayed, gradually increasing the pace and looking adorably adept.



Into the straight, and still ahead, with the others massed behind him .. well, fairystories have their limits. Glenbogle, which had doddled relaxedly round in last place decided actually to run the last couple of hundred metres and he shot past everyone else with ease. But I have this picture showing baby Fritzl – look at the difference between their physiques! -- running a genuine second behind a champion. The official result actually says he finished third, but here’s the photo (a few strides before the line admittedly). ‘Official results’ at workouts are notoriously approximate, and for me our wee boy was second.




So now it’s the races. Maybe Fritzl will have his first rising adult start on the same bill as Elena on Thursday .. thank goodness I decided to spend the month of March in New Zealand. And summer has come, too, just days off the opening of autumn..

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gerolsteiner Babies

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BOYS WILL BE BOYS

Rodin couldn't have drawn it better. Two year-old Mikie leads year-old D'Arcy astray....



AGNES GETS 'THE LOOK'

Thoroughly settled in now, and soon to be broken in, Agnes -- though decidedly Twiggy-elegant -- has certainly started to show up with some of the airs of her big sister. The look down the nose is starting to set in..




THE CAPTAIN GETS COMFY

Our pal the peacock is making himself very much at home, too. His favourite 'nest' now is on the verandah outside the french doors to my bedroom. And he no longer flees at human approach... just stalks loftily away. But its a bit hard to be lofty in moulting time, when your tail feathers are falling out. I am on to vase three...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Agnes de Gerolstein

I said I wouldn't do it. I swore I wouldn't do it. More horses I simply don't need and I've already bought one in France and one in Australia this year. No more horses. Even when I saw that a full sister to my beloved Elena was up on the block at this year's PGG sales, I said .. wow, I wonder who will get her.. and I wasn't going to bid. I really wasn't.
Then, when I was engaged to go to speak to the students of the Performing Arts course at Christchurch Polytech (of which more anon) about My Fabulous Life and Career. on the very day of the auction, I thought 'well that's fate. I sha'n't even go to the sale'.
But...
I watched the first day of the sales on TV, and I watched beautiful, well-bred horses being knocked down for just a few thousand dollars. Oh, heaven, imagine if someone got Agnes (well, yes I had daydreamily given her a name) for five or ten grand... imagine what regrets I'd have. And how insulting to Elena!
I sipped a scotch. I devoured half a bottle of Aussie rouge, and finally I picked up the phone and called my friend Mike. "Going to the sales?" "OK, you can bid on lot 322 up to 10K for me."
I actually got back from my lecture in time for lot 322. The bidding was slow, and it got stuck at 5K. I had been right. 5k was me. But the auctioneer decided to spend an incommensurate amount of time on Agnes and finally someone proffered six. It almost seemed as if the sale was orchestrated to get to ten (the reserve maybe?). Mike was brisk and businesslike.. at 10 the mysterious 'opposition' (I should dearly like to know who it was) disappeared and ... Agnes was mine.
Inter-Island horse transport have a vast number of babes to transport here and there on sales day, but they got to us around 10pm .. and I finally got to see the horse I had bought.




On the TV, in the ring, she looked like Elena all over again. Safely home, one can see the differences. She doesn't have the haughty eye, the snooty stare of her elder sister, she seems much less exaggerated in character (although it was exactly the haughtiness and exaggeration that made me go for Elena four years ago) and I think she's not going to be quite so huge and tall. Which would actually be good.
But 10pm was not the time to start investigating. Wendy huddled her up in a warm cover and neck rug, piled some hay into a nice big paddock ... next to Elena ... and we all went off to bed.
Naturally, first thing this morning I scurried out to look at my new girl properly. It's a typical NZ 2010 summer day, cool and drizzling, it had rained steadily through the night, making mud, puddles and soggy manes the order of the day. So I really couldn't give an exhaustive inspection to the slightly shy filly in the big blue coat. She has a nice head, a nice face .. for the rest, I shall have to wait till the sun comes out and she can strip off..
And, of course, till she recovers from what is called 'preparation' for the sales...

But she's mine. And she will, if such a thing is possible, be almost as much loved as Elena...
Welcome to Gerolstein, Agnes.



Monday, February 15, 2010

A 64th Birthday Blowjob

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I haven't taken much notice of birthdays for quite a few years (except when at sea) but for my entry into my last year as a middle-aged man it seemed a nice idea to get over that particular hurdle in company. So Wendy and I were joined by sister Jan, by Natalie and Russell Latimer, and by Erin Fox, for a merry evening with TWO cakes.. and one candle. Representing the one year left before the British Government will owe me a pension...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Today is summer in Sefton

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New Zealand has decided, after several days of grey drizzle, to have its summer today...

Other folk, however, are not having even that much summer..
Kevin writes me -- with picture -- that its snowing in Berlin



And my friend Betsy sends me this, snapped an hour ago from her window in South Carolina...



It's wonderfully beautiful, but I think I'll take Gerolstein in the sunshine for the next few weeks!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Douchelette at three months

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While I was in Australia, Douchelette reached the venerable age of three months... so 'baby' pictures are in order to mark the occasion. Doesn't look too babyish, does she..