Russian Doll is a brilliant new Netflix drama in which a woman relives the same night over and over again. It is particularly enjoyable for me to watch because I feel like that is exactly what I am going through. The same problems present and re-present themselves, quite as though I never come to grips with them, when in reality I do nothing but try to come to grips with them.
In Russian Doll, a New York software engineer called Nadia Vulvokov (‘It’s like Volvo only longer,’ she pleads) finds herself reliving her 36th birthday party in an ongoing time loop wherein she repeatedly dies horribly in a violent accident and the process begins again. Her seemingly inescapable fate is to relive her mistakes over and over while trying desperately to figure out what the hell is going on.
Yes! I thought, while watching the first episode. This is what I’m talking about! Every episode of my existence is like this, from big things like the builder boyfriend coming and going, coming and going, right down to the most minor details, like the fact that every time someone apart from me in my household does the washing up they use an entire bottle of Fairy Liquid, and every time someone throws away a piece of rubbish I have to fish it back out and put it in the correct bin.
How is this still happening, I ask myself every time. More pertinently, there are these recurring crises which seem to play on a loop. One of these is the infinitely occurring right-to-roamers who stray daily off the footpath that runs alongside my horses’ field to run amok in my horses’ field, often with their dogs running amok too.
Day after day, I go through the same routine. I spot them coming and shout, ‘Excuse me, can you stick to the footpath!’ ‘Put your dog on a lead please!’ ‘No, not in the field!’ ‘Come away from the horses!’And they ignore me. Every day, they come in their mountaineering boots to stray beneath the electric tape and conduct their weird ceremony of trespass in a Surrey paddock as if they were conquering the Hindu Kush.
Every day, I have to explain the law to all comers until I feel as if I cannot bear to explain it any more. Every day, these walkers swear at me, or shout about their rights, which they have entirely misunderstood.
‘There is no such right as a right for your dog to chase my horse’; ‘There is no right for your children to poke my horses’ faces,’ I explain. And they swear at me, and the next day, the same thing happens again. It is a recurring nightmare.
The other day, I was riding Grace the pony around the meadow next to the field and Darcy, left for ten minutes on her own and even though she could see us, decided to throw what is known in equestrian circles as a shit fit. She leapt into the air bucking and rearing in temper and then galloped from one end of the field to the other, screeching at me to bring her pony back. Knowing Darcy, I decided to give up and do what she said. As I rode back to the field, I saw a woman enter through the open top gate, veer off the footpath, duck under the electric tape and approach Darcy, who was still throwing herself about.
‘Can I help you?’ I called, riding over to tackle her before she got kicked. ‘I know nothing about horses,’ said the woman with a heavy accent, ‘but I think this is very bad.’
And she pointed to Darcy’s foot. In racing around, Darcy had clipped the skin above her back hoof with her front shoe, a common minor injury called an ‘over-reach’. I explained to the woman that it was not serious and I was coming back now.
After cold hosing, disinfecting and creaming, the small cut was barely visible. But I felt uneasy for some reason. A few hours later, I went back to the field to check on her.
When I got there, my friend was tending her horse in the neighbouring paddock and was fuming. She said she had looked up from mixing feeds in the barn to see a woman lying on the grass in my field, trying to coax Darcy to come over to her. Darcy was looking at her contemptuously, as if trying to work out how best to get rid of her. My field mate said she ran towards the woman shouting: ‘Get out! Go on! Get out!’ Whereupon, the woman ran away protesting that she was only communing with nature.
Perhaps right to roam will be supplemented by a new law called right to commune. Either way, I’m stuck in groundhog day.