Relatable Ronnie: the art of sneaky purchases

  • The Husband smiles to himself as he looks at the internet banking site. Huh! Penny thought she’d buy some super-expensive Elspeth Garden cream and slip it in under the radar, did she? He is slightly surprised because Penny has never been one to buy cosmetics, expensive or otherwise, and, bless her, it’s too late now. His smile has a decided smirk to it. He wanders out of his office to look for her, just to see if she will confess.

    The Husband finds Penny in the yard peering into Ronnie’s mouth. Ronnie is disconcerted, his mouth is just that — HIS MOUTH, and he doesn’t like it inspected. The Husband’s appearance, beautifully timed as usual, gives him the distraction he needs to grab his tongue back through Penny’s fingers and snap his teeth shut. Penny hops about a bit holding her index finger tightly.

    Later that night, The Husband watches Penny rub some Tesco hand cream into her hands and onto her face as she gets into bed. No sign of any expensive creams.

    The next day Penny delivers a cup of early morning tea to The Husband, and asks him to come on his bicycle round ‘the block’ with her. She wants to try out the hackamore on Ronnie.

    Penny is deeply worried about a tiny slit in the corner of Ronnie’s mouth — she is mortified to think that she has caused this. Checking the bit, she thinks she can allocate a little blame on a slightly rough piece on the edge of the mouthpiece, but mostly she feels plain guilty. She has anointed it with a haemorrhoid gel, as recommended by a hunting friend, and she can’t see a thing any more, but she can feel something. The Neighbour has the answer, to wit a skin repairing cosmetic which, she assures Penny, will do the job. Later at the computer Penny, after a moment of disbelief, presses ‘pay now’ on the appropriate internet site, and hopes that The Husband won’t see the order confirmation.

    The hackamore has been cleaned, and Penny has added a faux sheepskin pad to the back strap. Ronnie is perfectly happy with this new arrangement and he parades around the school doing what he is asked. Penny announces that all is well and she and The Husband set off round the block.

    After about a mile, The Husband points out that ‘the strap which runs from Ronnie’s ears to the hatchet thingy is rather close to Ronnie’s eye on one side.’ They all come to a halt. The bike is leant up against a tree and The Husband, feeling important, makes adjustments. He slackens the buckle on the top of the nose thingy and does it up behind. Retrieving the sheepskin from the gravel, he brushes it off and winds it round the strap at the back. He is slightly less confident as he gets back on his bike, but he hides it well.

    Ronnie is delighted to find no bit in his mouth means that vegetation is easier to snatch. Ronnie is not so delighted with the slap he gets. Penny is, however, pleased with the ride she is getting from her little horse, and decides that they will go further than just round the block. The Husband wishes he had put on his cycle shorts.

    On reaching a sharp downhill track, Penny suggests that The Husband waits at the top. She is going to walk Ronnie down and trot back up — the ground is far too hard to canter. The Husband agrees. Ronnie doesn’t. He happily walks down the long hill, but trot back up? He should just say not! This is his favourite gallop hill, he’s been doing it all winter. The wind whistles in Penny’s ears until Ronnie steadies himself on reaching the bike, then he obeys the slight pressure on his nose and canters the rest of the track, pulling up most amenably at the end. He’s had his fun!

    Some time later The Husband catches Penny and Ronnie up and they hack back home without incident. Penny is a little bit less sure about the hackamore now though.

    Penny dismounts in the yard, thanks The Husband for his help and gives Ronnie a good pat. “Clever lad,” she croons — The Husband nearly looks back, but accepts that inevitably the praise is for Ronnie.

    Continued below…

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    Penny picks up the headcollar and starts undoing the buckles on the hackamore. She discovers that The Husband had not tightened the back strap sufficiently when he loosened the front of the noseband. Indeed it was almost flapping about. She goes cold all over. Ronnie would have hardly felt the nose pressure. She considers what she will say to The Husband, but decides, as she applies the highly expensive Elspeth Garden cream to Ronnie’s lips, that it had better be nothing. She just won’t let him alter her tack again! Besides which she has to replace her worn bit, and that won’t be cheap judging by the websites she looked at last night.

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