By the time you read this I will have delivered my long-awaited speech to the World Horse Welfare annual conference in the presence of the Princess Royal. I say ‘long awaited’ not because I have some inflated sense of how important I am. But because I have been working myself into a right old lather about it.
I was perfectly fine until the organisers sent me a few emails with useful information about the conference themes and asked me out for a coffee to discuss my speech.
‘Agh!’ I thought. ‘Why are they asking me what I’m going to say? I have no idea what I am going to say. But more to the point, why do they feel they need to ask me?’
In the bowels of the WHW headquarters, I became convinced, there were top people holding high-level discussions involving panic-stricken remarks along the lines of: ‘What have you booked her for, you idiot? Did you not read what she’s been writing about the RSPCA?
‘We’re going to have our conference ruined by a paranoid loony spouting conspiracy theories about secret horse-culling — and in front of Princess Anne!’
A few months ago, you see, I was involved in a story revealing that the RSPCA had loaded a dozen horses on to a lorry, driven them to a location many miles away and shot them. They then billed for thousands of pounds for looking after them as if they were alive, though they later withdrew the claim blaming an administrative error.
I duly rang lots of leading horse experts for comment, expecting universal outrage, but the response of the official bodies was unanimous: ‘Nothing to see here! Nothing happening at all!’
The off-the-record response of one veterinary official to the revelation that vets had been billing for phantom treatments given to some of the dead horses was particularly instructive: ‘Well, it’s only a couple of wormers.’