20 June 2008

Royal reading

If one tires of the latest display of democracy in action that is the "Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns" Congressional subcommittee hearing, might I suggest that one turn to The Uncommon Reader, a delightful bon-bon of a book from England's Alan Bennett?

One might think that a comic novella in which the Queen of England develops an obsession with reading might not have much to do with racing, and one would be correct. However, it is amusing to contemplate the ramifications of the Queen discovering her fiction addiction after an accidental visit to a bookmobile. Her staff's alarm at this new-found fascination with printed matter is quite droll, and the exchange between Her Royal Highness and one Sir Claude is most entertaining, so much so that I share it here:

'Your Majesty has started reading.'
'No, Sir Claude. One had always read. Only these days one is reading more.'
'I see no harm in reading in itself, ma'am.'
'One is relieved to hear it.'
'It's when it's carried to extremes. There's the mischief.'
'Are you suggesting one rations one's reading?'
'Your Majesty has led such an exemplary life and that it should be reading that has taken Your Majesty's fancy is almost by the way. Had you invested in any pursuit with similar fervour, eyebrows must have been raised.'
'They might. But then one has spent one's life not raising eyebrows. One feels sometimes that that is not much of a boast.'
'Ma'am has always liked racing.'
'True. Only one's rather gone off it at the moment.'
'Oh,' said Sir Claude. 'That's a shame.' Then, seeing a possible accommodation between racing and reading: 'Her Majesty the Queen Mother used to be a big fan of Dick Francis.'
'Yes,' said the Queen. 'I've read one or two, though they only take one so far. Swift, I discover, is very good about horses.'
I heartily recommend The Uncommon Reader for those who enjoy this sort of repartee, as the novella has a sly, cumulative humor that will push all the nattering of subcommittee hearings right out of your head. And I suppose I should mention that upon reading the book, you might find yourself drawn to the reports from the meet at Royal Ascot, including those that feature stories of astonishing head gear.

Of course, one could, indeed, opt for Swift, instead. He really is very good about horses, but somehow I suspect thoughts of Congressional hearings would only intensify.


Brooklyn Backstretch said...

A friend sent me that book about a year ago; I lived in England for three years and am rather a devout Anglophile, and the book was completely charming. And it seems to have quite a life of its own, as I see it referred to all over the place.

Indeed a respite from the DC goings-on.

Anonymous said...

The fate of too many horses: the bleed tank.

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What types of horses are being slaughtered? Aren't these old, sick horses?

According to 2001 field studies conducted by Temple Grandin, 70% of all horses at the slaughter plant were in good, fat, or obese condition; 72% were considered to be "sound" of limb; 84% were of average age; and 96% had no behavioral issues. Slaughter plants do not want old, sick horses for obvious reasons.

How many horses are slaughtered each year?

Prior to the closure of all three foreign-owned plans in the U.S., over 100,000 horses were being slaughtered in the United States and processed for human consumption. Now, tens of thousands of live horses are transported across the border to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. After these horses are killed, their flesh is shipped to Europe and Asia for human consumption. Their owners are often unaware of the pain, fear, and suffering their horses endure before being slaughtered.

What kinds of horses are auctioned at these sales?

Thousands of horses are auctioned each year, including healthy pleasure horses and ponies, racehorses who didn't make it at the track, draft horses, donkeys, mules, and others.

Horses are still being crowded into trucks, enduring hours without food, water and rest, and driven to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311), introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), John Spratt (D-SC), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Nick Rahall (D-WV), and in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and John Ensign (R-NV), closes this loophole and prevents the exportation of American horses to slaughter plants in foreign countries. It also ensures that horse slaughter is permanently banned in the United States. People need to take action and stop this brutality

Watch Our Undercover Footage of U.S. Horses Exported to Mexico for Slaughter -- Then Take Action

Watch Our Undercover Footage of U.S. Horses Exported to Mexico for Slaughter -- Then Take Action

Sites of Interest:

Watch Our Undercover Footage of U.S. Horses Exported to Mexico for Slaughter -- Then Take Action

End Horse Slaughter Permanently

Grisly End for American Horses

Supreme Court of the United States Declines to Hear Appeal on Illinois Horse Slaughter Ban

Horse Slaughter Facts

Rising Rainbow said...

I haven't read the Swift books. I suppose since I have them sitting here on my shelves, I probably show at least give them a look.