Snakes and Horses and Pomelo Sea Breezes

Sea Breeze

Last year my mother in law captured my imagination by describing the Chinese New Year of the Snake that we were entering, as a year of twists and turns, some for good, and some for bad. Though she is no more Chinese than I am, it turns out, she felt that if such a thing as a new year could be defined, the Luna calendar would be a more logical way to do it, and she was prepared to go with that.

I braced myself for change, which, right on cue, came quickly. Sketch team writing, new jobs, moving house, more new jobs – some good change, some less so. “Ah well,” we’d say when life took a turn for the dramatic. “What can we really expect. It’s a snake year”.

Incidentally, did anyone else see the story about a woman who was banned from keeping more pet snakes? She had hundreds of them in her suburban house, plus the bodies of dead snakes she just couldn’t stand to part with, and kept in the fridge in tupperwear. Pretty interested that the jig was up at the end of the year of the snake, no?

Anyway, last night we headed out into Chinatown, down streets scattered with glitter and streamers, to celebrate with dim sum and cocktails. We toasted the year of the horse, though none of us had the faintest idea what it might mean or what it might bring. I Googled it, to no definitive avail.

But whereas snakes have always basically been a pretty clear metaphor to me, horses are another story. When I was a kid, I love My Little Ponys, and begged to be allowed to have a riding lesson. My Mum took me, in the sheeting rain, to walk gingerly around a padock on a horse that eventually bucked me off, then cantered merrily to the fence, where it bit my sister on the neck.

“Get back on the horse,” said the lady instructor.

No way.

She turned to my Mother for support. “Make her get back on the horse, or she’ll never get back in the saddle again.”

You could see hope spread across Mum’s face as she juggled an umbrella and a screaming toddler. “Do you want to get back on the horse, Katherine Mary?”


“Are you sure?”


Twenty minutes later, my sister and I were back at home in a hot bath and that was the end of my gymkanah career.

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