She was a trade union activist, she told me. She wanted a second referendum. Well, they all do. I’m starting to think that none of them got out of bed on 23 June 2016.
The pink tinge to her hair alarmed me from the start. I have often said that there is a certain type of left-winger who doesn’t care for foil highlights who fears me up more than the rest. I can’t explain it quite. They just scare me.
I encountered this young woman out of context, as it were, as she came and went from the fields where I keep my horses. She rents from the same farmer. We have to be polite to each other. So I made an effort whenever I saw her, even though I got the feeling she knew something about me and took a dim view of my Conservative leanings.
I told myself it was always going to be strained between us and I did my best to make our brief encounters work.
While saying ‘Hi, how are you, how’s your horse?’ out loud, however, I did get the feeling there was a subtext to everything we were saying to each other. Something like: Hello, you right-winger… Hello, you leftie… Written any articles defending austerity lately?… Nope, I’m too busy paying tax. You placard-waving for the unions this weekend?… Shouldn’t think so. Too busy marching to Remain in the EU because of your friend Boris’s Brexit plans… Look, it won’t happen. Haven’t you noticed? The minority is imposing its will on the majority and the result of a democratic referendum is being ignored. So don’t worry, you’re getting what you want.
I did actually say that last bit. But you have to realise how comprehensively she had machine-gunned me from the moment she got out of her car and parked up on the track to the moment she got back in it and left, with her little dog she takes on marches.
At one point she had me pinned up against my Volvo as she regaled me with a tirade about how little time she had to come here, being such a busy union official, and how much she just wanted to ride her pony, and how luckily an opportunity had come up for her to reduce her hours. ‘Oh, OK, yes, well, anyway, I have to go…’ I stammered.
Let’s face it, we were never going to be easy bedfellows. But one day she was so rude to me that I decided enough was enough.
She had come into the barn while I was having Darcy shod, and as the farrier and I said hello to her, she looked me up and down and said: ‘I thought you’d left.’
I explained I had moved the thoroughbred to a nearby stable yard after the pony passed away but as she hadn’t adjusted to life there I had brought her back. ‘And what of it, bossy boots?’ is what I didn’t say.
Luckily, the farrier took the heat off me by reminding her she owed him money for trimming her horse’s feet. She produced the cash from her car, then left.
‘What was all that about?’ said the farrier. ‘Search me,’ I said. So I googled her. I assumed she had long ago googled me. But I had blithely accepted her explanation of who she was: a trade union activist who helped the oppressed workers and went on anti-Brexit marches with her cocker spaniel.
The day she had machine-gunned me she had come to the field with a huge lanyard card-holder round her neck bearing the emblem of the Amalgamated and General Remoaners Union, or whatever it was.
But still, you could have knocked me down with a block vote when I looked her up on the internet and found that she was a player in the great Corbyn anti-Semitism row, and that she had been causing a stink by coming out with the sorts of rants those Corbyn supporters seem to, with impunity.
I read some of the jaw-droppingly awful things she had been saying on social media and my stomach lurched upwards to almost meet my pounding head.
I rang my closest friend at the field who is of Jewish descent and she was devastated. But what could we do? I went on to eBay and bought myself a pack of Israel flags and some Friends of Israel lapel badges. ‘I’m going to fly the flags from the top of my round bale,’ I told my friend next time we were in the barn together, ‘and I’m going to wear these on my riding jacket every time I’m here.’
‘I’ve thought about it,’ said my friend, who is from a very distinguished dynasty. ‘When I see her, I’ve only got one word to say to her. Shalom.’ Now that’s what I call classy.