Melissa Kite

If a bloke can wear stockings and suspenders in a stable yard why can’t I?

The hens clucked and the horses went clip clop clip clop. Then we were faced with a strange apparition

If a bloke can wear stockings and suspenders in a stable yard why can’t I?
What could be more pleasant than a cobbled stable yard on a crisp autumn day? Credit: Peter W Titmuss/Alamy
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We had gone to visit a friend at a stable yard on a country estate on a crisp autumn Sunday. I was going to help his daughter with a pony they weren’t sure about. The builder boyfriend and I drove up a winding driveway past an elegant stately home to an antique stable yard from a bygone era where our friend was waiting with his daughter and their pretty black cob tied to the wall.

Hens clucked from a nearby coop, kids came and went in wellies and warm jumpers, for there was a chill in the air. A young girl tacked up a smart, dapple-grey mount. Clip clop clip clop went the horses.

And then a man in black stockings and suspenders walked into the yard. When I say that, I don’t mean he was wearing black stockings and a suspender belt under his outfit, I mean that was his outfit. Black stockings and a suspender belt, skin-tight, very brief denim shorts like underpants, and a tight T-shirt. He was a big man, and his meagre outfit placed us all in a predicament.

We froze. We instinctively knew that extreme danger lurked for any one of us who adopted the wrong expression. It was as if there were snipers in the bushes and the first person to twitch would have their brains blown out, as in the Korean television drama Squid Game, which, if you haven’t seen, you must.

This chap’s hair was a spiky punk do with bright red, orange and green streaks, like a rainbow. He was accompanied by a girl leading a horse and a male friend who was conventionally dressed although he too bore a rainbow, on his jumper. I knew the rainbow was linked to That Acronym. I won’t attempt to spell out all the letters myself because if I get it wrong a sniper will take me out as I sit at my laptop. But Justin Trudeau recently said it now begins 2S to denote two-spirits and is as follows: 2SLGBTQQIA+.

Anyway, this girl owns a horse at this yard and she and her two friends had evidently been for a walk with it together.

She is one of those lefties who has caught the natural horsemanship bug — and I presume that will have to become natural horsepersonship in due course. She doesn’t ride the horse, she lets it roam about, loosely attached to her via a rope made from organic hemp or some such.

The poor animal is crippled from having no shoes and its hooves being trimmed amateurishly by her. Professional farriers being cruel to her way of thinking, she gets an old file and a pair of pliers and cuts the horse’s feet herself, which we had witnessed on a previous visit.

She’s posh. But any connection to the good, solid privilege she must have come from has been well and truly severed.

Perhaps she is doing everything she can to sock it to her family that she is different to them, and part of that entails being accompanied by a man in stockings and suspenders. As we all struggled not to let our eye-line connect with exposed upper thigh, she wore a smug look that said: ‘Ha! And what do you think of that?’ We think nothing, dear. We’re not allowed to.

I’m just saying it happened because, as far as I know, I can still report truthfully what my eyes see. If a man in stockings and suspenders walks into a stable yard, I can still say so without oppressing his freedoms, which I most certainly would not want to do.

Generally speaking, I’m all for it. If I had my time again I might have a swap-around because I’ve always felt short-changed being a woman. That’s the main thing that puzzles me about it, because if I had been wrongly born into the body of a man, I’d stay there, and enjoy the ride. Being a woman is not something I can recommend, having done it for 49 years.

I sometimes suspect I’m at least a couple of genders spliced into one, or reincarnated from non-binary space dust. In any case, I wasn’t given the option to find out, so I’m made up for those who are. I just don’t see what it has to do with indecent exposure.

‘What do you think would have happened if I had worn that outfit?’ I asked the BB later. ‘I think the yard manager would have thrown you out,’ he said. ‘Why do you suppose that is?’ I asked. We chewed it over, but all we could come up with is that I do not have the same rights to wear stockings and suspenders as a bloke. That’s another thing about being a woman that sucks.