Episode 6 – Annabel Other – Friendship, Yearning and Horses
January 2021 [27.44 min]
Annabel Other explores how it feels to miss the closeness and comfort of friendship during periods of isolation, through conversations about horses with her friends.
Transcript: Please see at the end of the page.
I want to make a podcast please.
I want my family and friends to talk about horses and about lockdown.
I want the story of Minchinhampton Common to tell the story of missing our friends and galloping with them.
I want to play music, Patti Smith, the theme from Black Beauty; White Horse by Laid Back, Joe Dorsey and more…
In a nutshell this is what I set out to do in my podcast.
All of the people recorded for Friendship, Yearning and Horses (Can you do the Pony like Boney Marony) were friends and family who just drifted into my life over a short period of time. Some of them I don’t see very often, some I talk to most days. It was a serendipitous selection.
Not searching but letting the stories come to me. I had no idea if they liked horses or not, apart from my Mum; I did however think that everyone has a horse story – and I was right.
For rights reasons, you can’t play a lot of recorded music in a podcast and so the obvious answer was to ask the participants to sing the soundtrack… and it is, of course all the better for it.
A big thank you to Producer and musical genius Rowan Bishop for waving his magical wand over it. But in case you want to hear the originals and gallop your way through your day I have made a little Spotify playlist (see below).
University of Oslo: The Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics
Their Vision: ‘The Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED) is dedicated to research of fundamental importance to the understanding of our planet. The research embraces the dynamics of the plates, the origin of large scale volcanism, the evolution of climates and the abrupt demise of life forms. This ambitious venture will hopefully result in a new Earth model that explains how mantle processes interact with plate tectonics and trigger massive volcanism and associated environmental and climate changes throughout Earth history.’
Olivia Jones is a visual artist based at Spike Island Studios in Bristol. Working predominantly between sculptural and drawn processes she create works that explore the behavioural characteristics and structural potential of materials, objects and phenomena within landscapes.
Professor Dougal Jerram is a geologist based in the UK. He runs a geological company called DougalEARTH and is also a research professor at the University of Oslo in the Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics.
Rodney Harris is a sculptor and printmaker. His work includes a long term collaboration with artist Valda Jackson. In 2017, Harris and Jackson won the Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture for ‘Four Brick Reliefs’ on the Peabody Estate in Clapham.
Alice Cunningham is a visual artist with a diverse practice working with a breadth of materials, renowned for her sculptural carvings and work in social engagement. Alice is equally passionate about concept and materiality in her artwork. She has exhibited widely throughout the UK and internationally.
‘EarthArt is a series of collaborations between contemporary artists and scientists from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. Each collaboration consists of a six-month artist Fellowship followed by a six-month exhibition in the unique EarthArt Gallery. EarthArt has been running continuously since 2015.
“Earth Sciences encompasses not just rocks and fossils, but increasingly climate change, oceanography, natural hazards, evolution and extraterrestrial life. There is a lot of materials for artists to explore and we thought this was a great chance to bring artists into the School to meet with scientists and the wider academic community through a six-month duration Fellowship.” Professor Jon Blundy, EarthArt Co-Founder.
“The idea of developing the Fellowship and Gallery was to address two things: firstly to deepen the dialogue and investigation between Artists and Earth scientists, generating new ways of visualising research; and secondly to create a Gallery to share this work with a wider public.” Rodney Harris, Artist, EarthArt Co-Founder.’ – EarthArt Website
The Bricks Podcast follows Bristol’s contemporary artists, on journeys within the city walls and beyond, along the leylines of the South West, up the A roads north, and through their unique observations on the world.
With thanks to Arts Council England and National Lottery players for funding this podcast series.
Episode 6 – Annabel Other – Friendship, Yearning and Horses (Can you do the Pony like Boney Maroney)- Verbatim podcast transcription
Do you think horses hum to themselves?
Oh God, Yeah. Course they… Do you think they’re quite musical? I mean, they do that kind of dressage
That kind of clippy cloppy thing, that rhythm.
They’ve got rhythm, haven’t they? I mean, you know. When do they hum? When they’re doing the clippy cloppy thing?
Yeah, I think
It’s like, they’re like, i’ve got a really good beat going now.
I suppose some horses might not have that great of rhythm.
Hello, I’m Annabel Other.
And this is my podcast about friendship, yearning, and horses.
So basically, horses are herd animals, a bit like humans, we don’t do very well on our own. And they require you to be very grounded, which is something that I haven’t been for a few months. They’re incredibly trusting of you once they’ve gained your trust. So that’s a huge privilege. A horse on its own in a field gets very frightened. They have their little friends they pick out in the herd of horses. So for example, Merlin’s got a little, is he quite a young horse, who he just absolutely adores, they play really great games together, he becomes very young again, they miss each other when the other one’s not in the field. So they’re incredibly reliant on other horses to give them comfort. And I think, in a way, this is what I feel at the moment, it sort of reflects on where we’re at, because we’ve all been thrown into being on our own. We’re not having a laugh. We’re not joking about and doing stuff that we used to. We don’t, it doesn’t fit, doesn’t suit who we are. Even just this sort of thought, you know, when you’ve got somebody in another room or in the next room to you, and their presence makes you feel more grounded. Yeah, we have been thrown into our little worlds. We don’t function very well. So I think, actually, when you look at horses, and you think that the saddest thing is to see a horse on its own. And I can whinny like a horse, which I could do in a minute, I just got to wait for people because it’s very loud.
Yeah it’s very loud. I’ll do it in a minute once people have walked past. So basically, I know how to communicate with horses. I can get a whole field of horses to run up to me through whinnying. And I don’t actually know what I’m saying, but they seem to like it.
[singing] Do you know how to Pony like Bony Maronie
Mahali O Hare 3:13
I worked on a Kibbutz. And I became really good friends with the stable boy, there were horses on the Kibbutz. And he would take me out riding on these huge horses, we’d ride along the west bank. And he put me on his horse one day and I didn’t have any control of the horse whatsoever, I’d never ridden before. And the horse just took off with me. And it was the most terrifying and exhilarating experience I’ve ever had. It was incredible. Not something I really wanted. *laughing* He was very handsome.
Mahali O Hare 3:59
He did rescue me though. Of course, he rode up alongside, pulled his horse in, it was all very dramatic.
Jo[singing] I ride the white horse
Mahali O Hare 4:10
Well, I can’t actually recall it as an actual memory. But I’ve been told that when I was about four, I was asked by somebody what I would like to be when I grow up. And I replied that when I grow up, I would like to be a horse. I would have been either a Pinto which is a black and white horse, or a Palomino, which is like a kind of big golden horse. And they probably were the horses that I chose as a child to gallop around on in the fields. I think as I got older, I lost the idea that i could be a horse. I think that age is very particular and I was talking to my Mum about that actually, and she said around that age my brother asked for Christmas, whether he could have a hippopotamus and I think it’s that age of possibility. But I was the back end of a horse in a school play.
Mahali O Hare 5:19
I was really disappointed.
When I was a little girl, I was going to marry Biggles. He was a horse at the local stable. No, no, he was an old knackered horse basically.
You were going to marry Biggles?
I was gonna marry Biggles.
Can you describe what the wedding would be like?
We would have had an open air wedding, we’d have had maybe, you know, a few guests. It wouldn’t have been very extravagant. There have been a few apples. You know. It would have been a very sort of muted affair but very deep. And at the time, I was determined I was going to marry Biggles and my Mum, my Dad said to me, one day, Vicky, you’ll feel the same way about boys as she will about Biggles. And I went “NEVER!” and I never have!
I can’t do it, I can’t do it. [Singing] Wild horses, No, no, no, no no; Wild horses… I don’t know the words.
So I’m making this podcast and it has a kind of overtone of horsey stories. And oddly, you posted something on Facebook this morning, which was you on a pony…
Riding a pony. Yeah. So, partly inspired by you saying, Oh, I’m doing a podcast horse related, which kind of slightly baffled me because I don’t remember you being a horsey person…
I have absolutely no connection with horses at all. But what’s curious is that they do kind of enter your life. Like, for some reason, I DJ, DJ Brown Owl, but I transform into a horse halfway through, by putting a rubber horse’s head which is mounted on top of a workman’s helmet and held on with a checked woolen scarf around my head. And it’s usually to the track Land Horses by Patti Smith. Sometimes it goes into Ride Your Pony. I gallop around the dancing crowd. And then I stop being a horse.
Oh, Okay. And how long does this? How long does it? so you? That’s two songs. So you’re approximately 20 minutes?
No, far less than that. But it’s sort of quite shamanistic, I think. But also faintly ridiculous. But I don’t know if…
Yeah, I’d probably go with more ridiculous than shamanistic To be honest, your description…
I think you need to come clean because you’re actually quite qualified to say something, aren’t you.
Yeah. So I’m Reverend Canon, Dr. Ellen Loudon. I’m Canon chancellor at Liverpool Cathedral and director of social justice for the Diocese of Liverpool. So I’m qualified both in the horse department and in the no, that’s not shamanistic, that’s ridiculous department. You worry about sort of 20 minutes of being a pony. I feel like this persona that now I live in is sometimes faintly ridiculous.
Yeah. So you also dressed up in some extraordinary clothes for a period of time. And…
On that note, I did talk to a friend of mine who told me that when she was young for many years, she wanted to, she fell in love with a horse and she wanted to marry it.
Oh. no, I can… you do fall in love with horses. What? I’m not sure about marrying them though. No, that seems like too much of a commitment.
It’s too much of a commitment to the horse? Or for the horse to you.
In all, in every way, I think.
Have you ever? Because I’m guessing that you’ve married a few people?
In your time. Has anybody ever asked you to marry them to an animal? I mean…
Um, No, and it’s illegal. So why would it be necessary?
I don’t know that. This person that I was speaking to was like said that she was very committed to marrying the horse. And that her father told her that one day she’d meet other human beings that she would feel the same way about, said she never has. Anyway, I think she lost touch with the horse, it didn’t work out.
I don’t even know if you remember that when I first met Mark, we ran away to the circus in Switzerland, which also involved ponies. It was a circus that basically went from one little village in Switzerland to another village. And the circus was only kind of possible to move from one village to the other because of the ponies. So I rode a horse called Rex and that was my job was to help look after the ponies and ride Rex. But I was concerned for Rex all the time, even when we weren’t riding like so if we were in camp and things I would go and want to see if Rex was all right. So I can see why you’d marry a horse actually, because that was, it was a well, you know, I’ll go and see Rex now after my dinner or whatever. Yeah, to be honest with you. I never felt anything sexually thrilling about riding ponies. But I can see why other people might. So I think that’s the thing, I guess that I’m a bit bemused by right, by marrying your pony.
So basically, on the common every year, there are several horses. There is only one left, running all over the place galloping and going [neighs] like this. And then some people who don’t know much about horses were a bit scared because they thought, they think the horses are going to gallop our way. And then I said, Well, listen. I think that horse is looking for his friends. He lost his friends, because I know a little bit about horses. I’ve got a little one. I’ve got a little chipmunk. His name is Chipmunk. He’s basically a little Shetland pony. And he does that when his friends go, he goes all over the place, runs up and down, up and down, up and down, trying to find them. And that’s what that horse was doing. He was going into even some gardens looking where are my friends? where are my friends? I can’t find my friends and going [neighing] Going on one side of the road, the other side of the road, across the common. And then suddenly they came all galloping together, all really happy, and they had found each other and they were suddenly calming down.
[singing] She’s got a brown suntan starting just above her collar, her lower arms, they’re brown, but the rest is kind of pale. She by better die if she only had a dollar. And she’d live out in the pasture if she only had a tail. And no, I don’t see her much since she started with horses. No, I don’t see her much since she started to ride. Well, her genes they get like a wet saddle blanket. And her boots are like you figure and her car is full of hay. Horses, humans, if she had to rank it, you’d bet on that they counter and then not need fly spray. And you don’t see her much since she started with horses. I don’t see her much since she started to ride.
The fear of horses, I think, I don’t know if you can inherit it. But my mother was very frightened of horses. And so was my older brother Jack and Bob seem to have missed out on that. And I mean, it’s a real fear. It really brings about the pounding heart and the sweating palms. Which is surprising. But it was a revelation to us that Dad really liked horses because he was brought up in a poor part of Birmingham and he came from a very poor family. And I’m sure they didn’t have any connection with horses, apart from the ones that came around with doing deliveries, which they did in those days. When Bob and Jack were young, they went to the seaside sometime. And on the beach there was a man with horses and Bob told me he was absolutely astounded to see Dad go and just jump onto a horse bareback. This was, this astonished them because we were living in the centre of Birmingham. You know, in a suburb on a bus route. But, when mother and dad bought the cottage in Wales, it was different because that was up a mountain, there was plenty of land around. And when I was about 16, or 17, Dad had this notion that he would like to teach me to ride a horse. I’m sure it was with the best of intentions, because he must have known that I was not keen on horses. Let’s put it that way. But anyway, he disappeared this day, and he came back, he’d been down to see Jones, the Post Office, who was down at the bottom of the hill, and we were up a mountain. And he came back with this horse. Well it wasn’t a huge horse horses go, but seemed quite huge to me. And he said, I thought you’d like to learn to ride a horse. Well, the fear shot through me. And as he brought the horse in, I looked into it’s eyes. And I didn’t like that at all. I felt it was weighing me up as one who is a bit scared, which was right.
[singing] ride the white horse
And then the next day, we had to start this learning process. I didn’t have any of the proper gear that they have today. I think I just had welly boots. And, I don’t even know if we wore trousers in those days. But anyway, no hat or anything like that. But Dad assisted me to get on this horse. And I must confess, I felt slightly better up on top where I couldn’t see it’s eyes. And he led me out on the horse. And that was okay, sitting on top of the horse. But then we went down the few country lanes and then Dad, as he was willing to do just said, well, there you are then, I’ll let you go. Which was a bit ridiculous, really, because I had absolutely no control over this horse, whatever. He was in control. And he just went the way he wanted to go at his own pace. Well, but I think the next couple of days, we repeated this, this dreadful ordeal for me. And then on about the third day when the horse was tethered in it’s patch, the man in the next farm let his horse out into the adjoining field. Well, our horse saw his friend and gave a whinny of delight. And thought, at last, somebody who looks kinda like me. And he jumped the fence. But unfortunately, the drop on the other side was greater, and it was in the bog. So the horse having jumped the fence, so agilely, was stuck in this bog up to its knees and it couldn’t move. So, unfortunately, my Dad who liked horses and knew about horses, he decided that he’d have to get it out. So he did, he had to dig it out and hose it down. But I may say that that was the end of the horse. That was my saving thing. He got taken back to Jones the Post Office.
[singing] Lady, lady, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy, ’cause of a horse like you. I can’t afford a carriage or a super marriage. But you look sweet trotting along with me bouncing on your back.
That sounds a bit rude doesn’t it?
I spent at least three months of lockdown not being able to walk properly, because I ripped a tendon in my left leg. And at almost the moment that was better, after probably two months, I then broke three toes on my right foot. So that was another six weeks. So I felt very like hemmed in, you know because I thought even though I was working from home, I felt very much like at least you could go for a walk and I was really enjoying these walks. And when I discovered the new field at the back we called it the new field, even though it had been there forever. For us. It was a new field. It’s literally on our back door right at the back of our house. And so as soon as my both feet got fixed, both legs, I went for a walk with mine and this is only about a month ago. And we went to the new field again, we could finally go up there. And we kept walking along and it had this very kind of particular charged atmosphere in the field at the back. And I don’t know why we started talking about Chipmunk and Nadine’s Shetland pony, and I minor was saying, Oh has Nadine got a horse anymore? And I was going… I just couldn’t think what she was talking about because I think, and I said, Do you think chipmunk is really a horse? I don’t think… we have this funny little light hearted conversation about it. And then I was telling her about particular places I’d been in the landscape where I felt there was a certain kind of charged energy, and sometimes it’s more so when there’s animals around. And then I came back down to my house, and then you rung me up? And you told me about this idea for this podcast? And I thought, isn’t that funny? Because I told you the story that I just said, I’ve just been for a walk with Moina. And we were discussing whether Chipmunk is really a horse. And then you said, I’ve got a proposal for a podcast of horses and I thought, Oh, that’s so funny.
Got any horsey things, Andrew?
[singing] Suddenly, Johnny gets the feeling, he’s been surrounded by horses.
Horses, horses, horses, horses. No, I don’t. I have a pantomime horse, though. It’s a ceramic pantomime horse. It’s a shire horse with black spots. So yellow. Hang on, I’ll just get it. There you go, it’s a bit dusty. It’s been on my mantelpiece for years. She’s got eyeliner, the pantomime horse. But I’ve loved this pantomime horse. It’s been on my mantelpiece sideboard for many a year. It’s a Shire Horse. It’s about six inches high. It’s got a big grin. It’s got like, big black eyelashes around the eyes. And it’s covered in round black spots. It’s kind of lemon yellow. And you know shire horses have quite big, hairy feet. And yeah, it just looks so happy
[singing] Ride your Pony, get on your pony and ride. Ride your pony, get on your pony and ride. Oh, you’re riding high. Now stay in the saddle tonight. Oh ride your pony, get on your pony and ride.
I think that’s enough.
I’m trying to get the galloping thing going with a duh duh duh duh. And the thing about a gallop is it’s in itself. A regular irregular rhythm, it’s quite an extraordinary thing. And you have to not kick on to get that right rhythm. So you’re on the pony and you’re riding. It’s, it’s, yeah, it’s a beautiful thing once you get a gallop going.
Is it? next time you get a gallop going,
You know, I think, I don’t think this side of glory to be honest with you. I think that I’m gonna have to wait to glory for another pony ride. Really? Yeah.
Is that what you think’s in store for you?
Well, I’m rather hoping so. I think glory will be riding ponies and probably eating cake and drinking fine white wine.
Mm hmm. Anything else there in the mix?
No that’s probably enough.
Perhaps I’ve got you know, my brain could tell me this is a bit ridiculous. But I must say I do like a nice fence between me and the horse. And once when I was working one of the works’ day out was to the local racecourse send down sundown. That’s right, it was it was a works treat. And Dad and I went there, and we didn’t win a thing on on the horses. But Dad wanted to go down to the paddock and I did go down. But there was a nice fence between us and the horses where we were. And I was struck. They were really really beautiful horses. I can’t deny that. But I was glad there was a big fence between us. I’ve always liked a fence between me and the horse.
I’m quite a sensitive emotional person. And I see their need. I can see their loneliness. I probably, I’m gonna marry a horse…
You could probably marry a horse as well as marry a human if you wanted?
Yeah, I don’t think a human will ever asked me. So it’s going to have to be…
So you want a horse to ask you? You’ll have to whinny. Is that why you’ve been keeping it up?
I’m keeping it up. Should I do a whinny? We’re in a park.
It’s going to be great. We’ll see which humans turn around when you whinny and then we’ll know they’ve got horse spirit.
Yeah, I’ve got to get into the, cause you can’t just do it
You can’t just whinny. You’ve got to stand up?
No, I can do it sitting down… [whinnies] It’s very deeply private.
You have been listening to Mahali O’Hare, Vicky potential-horse-bride Andrews, the wonderful Reverend Ellen Loudon, Nadine Chipmonk Constant. My mum, Joan I-like-a-fence-between-me-and-a-horse Bennett. The gorgeous voice of Allison Johnston. The Fabulous Mr. Andrew Mania. Riding the white horse, It’s Joe Leahy and me, Annabel Other. Special thanks to Jack and Jessica at Bricks. The endlessly patient Rowan, my son, Walter Keys Wilson for the music at the beginning. Thanks for listening. No, thank you for listening. Thank you for listening. No, that sounded like I was telling people off. Thank you for listening. Thank you for listening.
Ash Kayser: 26:42
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