Whoever claimed that shovelling manure was therapeutic is a liar. Come to think of it, it was the Well Meaning Person. Again. It isn't the first time. Mental note to self (1): never listen to the Well Meaning Person ever again. Mental note to self (2): Remember never to listen to the Well Meaning Person ever again.
Not that I am a stranger to mucking out stables. But somehow my memories of it are far more pleasant than my pathetic attempts at re-enactment. There must have been a reason why once upon a time I lost interest in horses. I desperately want to blame the boys. They are usually at fault. The trouble is in my case, there were only about two-and-a-half of them at school, and the most we ever did with them was torture their poor souls into humiliating submission. Mental note to my readership of three: never ever subject your boys to girls' schools. It will lead to costly therapy.
Anyway, fond recollections of primary encounters with the opposite sex aside, I am currently shovelling manure. Lots of it. Don't ask why. Perhaps as Marie-Antoinette discovered a while back, there is something about rioting that makes one want to hug a chicken. So I decided to hitch up the petticoats and engage with mud, as poetically as possible.
I began with advertising my manual labouring skills on www.helpx.net. I boasted about my horsey skills, my love of vegetables, etc. I thought it best to leave out the bird-related poetry, as one doesn't ever want to appear too keen. Besides, nothing is ever gained by bearing light on the inner weirdo. I received a flurry of responses, and picked a muddy option in keeping with my pastoral ambitions. Joy awaited me no doubt. And escorting a massive Samsonite containing my Aigle wellies, and a series of seriously inappropriate accoutrements (including one green silk shirt and shimmery khôl de Guerlain - because a girls never knows) I set out on my quest for mud therapy.
And now here I am, smelly, inadequate, in the middle of nowhere, shamelessly fantasising about shopping at Planet Organic in outrageous stilettos, sipping a Mucho Macha smoothie -one perfectly manicured hand elegantly poised over the raw dark chocolate section - Tibetan massages, Chinese herbal practitioners, and shiitake broth. You name it, I'm yearning for it.
On my first day here I managed to compromise the structural integrity of my skull, and develop an infection somewhere I'm not telling. The second day I woke up unable to lift my left arm, squealing like a pig on its way to slaughter. I crawled out of bed and tried to yoga my way out of my predicament, feeling seriously sorry for myself. I considered ordering a helicopter to escort me to the nearest Tibetan masseur. Then a voice spoke inside. It might have been the voice of God, but it came out in US Army speak: "Suck it up Johnson". Ouh, frightening! One never suspects one harbours an inner American soldier. I don't feel quite safe in my head anymore.
The truth is I don't want to suck it up. I want to be a big fat sissy (minus the fat). My petticoats are covered in shit, and so now I am going to sulk until someone else makes it better. Good God, I never learn. Last time I found myself in charge of a kennel. That was far, far worse. We had to wear special headgear to avoid permanent damage to the eardrums. One girl was bitten on the arse and had to have a tetanus shot. This is nothing. I can do this.
No I can't. Why the hell do I do this to myself? The only reason I can think of right now is that putting myself in challenging environments reminds me of who I really am: a bit of a brat with a penchant for silk. Last year I ended a difficult trip with a night at the Vancouver Radisson. I remember weeping with joy when I opened the door to my room and was greeted by a gigantic bed covered in white, freshly pressed sheets. I almost fainted at the thrilling prospect of eating room service in a bathrobe. I am proud to report that Vancouver means nothing to me, aside from the fantastic, cheap Japanese food which was available not even 50 metres away from my hotel.
Oh fond, painful memories of luxury past! Well, there still remains the option of undignified retreat. You see, it's just not my time. I'm not ready to go green and manurey just yet. God, if you're listening, please take into account my unhealthy obsession with recycling when weighing up my soul? I know I'm unworthy, but at least I'm not bankrupting the solar panel industry.