Sunday, 6 December 2009

My father

Dad and Grampy wtih the drag

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I went to see my dad today.  He is almost eighty and his body is bashed all to hell from years of riding, and falling.  He broke his back and his neck twice, and the doctors said he would never ride again, but he did, in the Grand National, after months in a steel brace.  So everything hurts now.  He was never going to be the kind of man who might welcome age, see it as an excuse to retire into his study and read Pliny. (I once heard a thing on Radio Four about a retired clergyman teaching himself Ancient Greek at the age of 91 and have never quite forgotten it.)  My father's cerebral contortions these days consist of trying to win the Saturday accumulator.

It was sad to see him so thrashed by time, and when I got back to my cousin's house I wanted suddenly to remember him as he was, in his pomp.  He was incredibly strong and marvellously handsome when he was young (also very naughty and not at all safe in taxis).  And, wandering about on the internet, I found this photograph, taken by a gentleman called Edward Cazalet, of my father and grandfather when they were joint masters of the Mid-Surrey Farmers' Drag.  (For those of you unfamiliar with horses, drag in this context does not mean men in frocks, but hunting a laid scent instead of an actual fox.)  My dad is on the right, and my grandfather in the middle, and the man on the left is Ian Patullo, the whipper-in.

I adore this picture.  Not only does it show my old fa in his glittering youth, but also it gives us all a tremendous reminder of what a really good pair of britches should look like.  See how stern my tall grandfather looks (he had a voice that could carry for three fields), and how my father looks very slightly sheepish, almost certainly because he has a hangover and was up to no good the night before.  And my God, look at the polish on those boots. 


  1. Synchronicity: just chatting to Mrs T on Twitter about pink gin which always reminds me irrevocably of hunting: old country houses, meets on the lawns, snaffles & bridles, habits & bowlers...women who ride hard to hounds.. we have wall of photos like yrs - granny was sec of the Warwickshire. Makes me all nostalgic for childhood & reading Pullein Thompson books LLGxx

  2. ps not that I can ride partic well of course. Granny memorably described me as 'hands like lead & seat like a sack of potatoes.' I fall off going over cavaletti. xx

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  4. I think I was probably too young to have any fear when going on my first hunts. As I grew older it was a way of ditching parents and getting "lost" in the woods.
    I love those photos and completely agree - one must look good in the britches and boots. xx

  5. Great photo to have found .. Old age is so destructive .embrace it! No way, sadly it always wins .. yet the alternative isn't much better. Look after him. I miss mine terribly xxxx

  6. what a wonderful photo! I'm with you, I remember my father as he was when I was a young child, before he became ill and frail. Our memories of our parents are so important, as you so elequently stated. Such as lovely reminder post during the holiday season.

    Happy holiday wishes to you and your family!

  7. i love these kind of photos, from our past. your father and grandfather were so handsome. thank you for sharing with us.

  8. Ms. Kindersley,
    Pardon my intrusion into your comments here, but I'd like to send you some old photographs of your uncle and father from the 1930's. Its a long interesting story. Thank you and happy holidays. Look forward to your reply to my blogger ID.

  9. My email : contact (-at-) erskinechilders (-dot-) com.


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