Back in November, something strange happened. I RAN OUT OF BOOKS. This never happens. I’ve always got two or three (or four or five) books waiting patiently in a queue to be read. I hadn’t had my usual influx of book tokens for my birthday in September and I was waiting to see if I’d get any for Christmas, but I needed books!
My mum suggested I borrow some of hers. My parents’ taste in books is different from mine, but a change is as good as a rest, so I took a look at her collection.
The first book I picked was Clare Balding’s autobiography, My Animals and Other Family. I’m not one of these huge Clare Balding obsessives, but I think she seems like a perfectly nice person, as well as being a flipping good sports presenter, so I thought I’d give her book a go.
I was hooked from the first page. I absolutely loved it. The book covers her childhood and each chapter relates to a dog or horse that was part of her family at that time – and there were A LOT of dogs and horses. Her upbringing was unconventional, to say the least. She comes from a privileged background (the Queen used to pop round as Clare’s dad trained her horses), but was largely left to her own devices as a child, so got into far more scrapes than I ever got into as a kid.
The first few pages of the book summarise her upbringing: Candy was my mother’s boxer and the pecking order was clear. In terms of affection and attention, Candy came first and anyone else, new baby included, came second.
I was a disappointment from the minute I popped out and there’s not a thing I could do about it.
‘Oh,’ said my grandmother, ‘it’s a girl. Never mind, you’ll just have to keep trying.’
Clare comes from a long line of horse trainers and the family lived and breathed horses. Not being a horsey kind of person, I was surprised how interesting I found all the horse stuff. It is written in a way which is both understandable and entertaining for a person who doesn’t know anything about horses.
I devoured this book. I absolutely loved it and would recommend it to anyone.