I rode out 4 lots before heading off to Captain Radclyffe’s funeral. Vado Forte, Lough Derg Leader, Mary Eleanor, Kalahari Queen, Equus Amadeus all worked on the hill, First Du Charmil and Triopas had a blow on the hill too. All the other had routine canters or put in some hard yards around the sand gallop.
There was predictably a large turn out for the Captain’s funeral, when you live to 98 many of your mates are already dead. I was certainly one of the younger ones present. As you might imagine a few of us spent an hour reminiscing our experiences of working for the Captain and remembering him in action. It was a happy hour or so, being back at Lew bought back some happy memories. We did establish that John Porter was possibly his worse employee, John needed 3 years under his tutelage, most of us were moved on after 2 years as the Captain felt if you hadn’t learnt enough in 2 years it was unlikely you would ever learn.
On one occasion during evening stables the Captain appeared in the yard banishing a Pyrex plate, I remember it well, it was spotless clean, white, with a blue pattern around the edge. He was going epileptic, demanding to know who had thrown it in the bin. No one came forward to admit they had done so and the scene was becoming more like an episode of Faulty Towers by the minuet. To calm matters down someone eventually admitted to throwing a disgustingly dirty plate in the bin, not one that looked anything like the one the Captain was waving around above his head while jumping up and down screaming. This sent him in to further rage. Of course, we wouldn’t have recognized it as he had cleaned it. According to the Captain, we were all ungrateful, wasteful, disrespectful bunch of useless little bastards. He eventually stormed off declaring he was going to ring our parents to tell them what he thought of us and how disappointed they would be to learn we had thrown a plate in the bin. His bollockings were legendary, he never held a grudge, and was in fact, the most loyal man you could ever meet. I had a stroll around the yard when leaving and visited the stables, I can remember what horses stood in what stables in 1986-1987, my eye was also drawn to the wall that an Alleged 2-year-old threw me into, I remember hitting the wall like I’d been ejected from a cannon only to be told to get up and back on the bloody unruly individual. Seeing the lunge pen also bought back memories. I had a tendency to slouch when I first arrived at Lew, this drove the Captain mad, eventually he could watch no more, I was summoned and lunged holding each end of a broom handle behind by back bareback in trot, after 10 minuets the Captain was bored, he handed me the lunge line and told me to lunge myself for a further 20 minuets. I had a broom behind my back with a hand at each end and now had a lunge line to cope with too. It was just too much, I ended up upside down on my back with a broom handle up my arse. By the time the Captain reappeared I had organized myself and was happily lunging myself with the broom behind my back. This impressed him sufficiently and I can’t recall having to do it again. To this day, I reckon, he was probably stood in the kitchen garden laughing his head off at me. He was some man for one man.
I look as if I should be in kindergarden not fulltime employement. From left to right David Ronney, Robin and me 1986.