Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Senior Girl

Enid worked at Bunty Pargeter’s yard for more years than anyone could remember.

She opened up at seven each morning, gave the horses their breakfast before staff or liveries arrived and was invariably the last to leave each night.

Although she had no qualifications, everyone said “What Enid Possett doesn’t know about horses isn’t worth knowing”. A firm believer in the efficacy of poultices and bran mash, her knowledge owed more to “Black Beauty” than the current “BHS Manual of Stable Management”.

She always gave the young ones their first lessons pre-Pony Club and unfailingly instilled the same principles of straight-back, heels-down, leg-on and “Don’t take any nonsense!”

Her recurrent mantras were “When you fall off, get straight back on” and “It’s a horse, not a pet, child!”

Enid had a jaundiced view of liveries. A strict pecking order was to be observed. Full liveries were acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, part liveries merited the slightest nod, on a good day, and DIY’s were ignored completely.

All liveries were to be regarded at best as a necessary evil. They would be tolerated, provided they did not interfere in any way with daily routine.

Liveries must not obstruct Enid’s access to straw, hay or water and must never, ever touch her favourite wheelbarrow, extra long-handled fork, snow shovel and broom – the efficient one with a luxuriant head of bristles (unlike the majority on the yard).

Enid took pains to ensure that her seniority was reflected in her relationship with the other girls. She ate her own sandwiches each day in her corner of the tack room and never joined in chips on Tuesdays or trips to the Red Lion or Trugg & Gussett. She would, however, usually eat a cake on someone’s birthday.

Enid’s relationship with Miss Pargeter stood the test of time. Enid would not hear a word against her employer and was quick to squash any complaints amongst staff or liveries and to report back any disloyal remarks.

The reward for decades of such devotion was the general understanding that
Enid was the senior girl on the yard. Other than her preferred tools, a few pounds extra a week and a card at Christmas, she received no further privileges. Enid was never invited to share a meal with Miss Pargeter or to call her "Bunty".

Over tea, following
Enid’s funeral, Miss Pargeter commended Enid’s work, but was not aware she had been her “senior” girl.

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