Although there was a lack of trees and any evidence of nature in my Notting Hill slums as a child, there were a large number of horses. Horses were everywhere in the stables of West London’s Notting Hill and Paddington. They were the large cart horses that stood way above even the tallest handler. Horses were humanising and the smell of their droppings still haunts me all these years later.
But one day as a four-year-old I saw something that showed the tragic side of life for a working horse. From out of a cobbled mews I was about to walk into charged a wild and madly excited horse. It ran to the corner and then ran up the street. Then it must have turned again and seen its home and charged back down the mews.
By the time I entered the mews the horse had slipped and fallen and was in a panic on the cobbled ground. A vast, wounded animal with men coming out and getting me to leave the sight of such tragedy.
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Why did this image come back to me when I was involved in TV and radio interviews last week after Suella Braverman made the thoughtless suggestion that many homeless people make a lifestyle choice to sleep in tents on the street?
The day started early with morning TV, and by the afternoon I felt like a wild horse. I was carried away by the questioning, the madness of what a cabinet member was saying; and now my mouth seemed to take over. What started off as a careful and managed commentary finally ended up with me saying, when asked if Braverman should retire, that the last home secretary had been rubbish, as was the current one; and the next one will be equally rubbish.