Quick! Sand!


A month of riding lessons had seen me bitten, thrown, whinnied at, and snorted on. I even had a Golden Delicious spat in my face. Truly, the instructor’s behavior was insufferable.

Surprisingly, the horse community treated me just as badly. Our equine friends can sense a good disposition, and I’m often described as a warm person, in that my body temperature rarely falls below 98.6° F.

The gentlest cantering session, when I showed up, transformed into a Wild West rodeo. Eventually, I learned how to vault a fence, albeit pursued by a horse.

My wife, on the other hand, can talk to the animals. Yet even with the Horse Whisperess alongside me for a beach ride, an incident occurred that caused my popularity amongst rental nags to plummet to a record low.

With my unerring sense of direction, I led us through a twinkling foreshore stream, under which lurked that old enemy of humanity, quicksand[1]. My trusty steed and untrusty me were pulled under. We started to disappear from view, incrementally, like a foolish man pretending to walk downstairs behind a couch. Barely had I time to remind my wife to turn off the upstairs lights during winter when – SLURP! – we were gone.

To our astonishment, my mount and me were squeezed out into an underground cave. A few bats fluttered around us. As my eyes became accustomed to the dark, their number increased dramatically. ‘Oh, don’t be so dramatic,’ I said.

My horse, whose name I learned was Clyde, shrugged, ‘What’s your thinking on this?’

‘There’s nothing else for it,’ I said. ‘I must create a cave painting from your dung called Bats on Horse. It won’t be easy: if you think sketching hands is hard, try bat wings. On completion of the work, I will instruct the bats to deliver advertising flyers for my exhibition. A local gallery owner will show up. He’ll not only buy the painting, but commission a whole caveful. After which, we will have enough money to buy a digging machine of some description.’

‘Or,’ intimated Clyde, ‘we could leave by the cave entrance over there.’

Above ground, we found my wife staring forlornly at the quicksand.

'You couldn't leave?' I said.

'No, you’ve got the car keys.'

Clyde’s paddock pals never forgave me for his ordeal. Thankfully coastal experts knew that the real responsibility lay with changing erosion patterns. They had formed the quicksand. Of course, to this day not a single erosion pattern has served time in prison.

Let that be a ‘lesson’ to you all.


[1] Octogenarian readers will remember that the first half of the 20th Century was defined by war. Therefore the chief antagonist in every single Hollywood movie was a few feet of watery silt. In the Seventies, a decade of sleaze and corruption at the highest levels of public office, the American people put away their childish fear of quicksand to instead watch anything with zombies.