Third February Blog. 13-2-2015 ?
Back in the Day.
I was off to an appointment, talking about this and that. When I mentioned about blogs, as one does, and it came to pass, I remembered going to visit a local smithy. Yes, along a main road to London, a working smithy. Of course. It has long since gone. Removed, torn down, the area built on long ago.
But, I still remembered as if it were yesterday. The sounds, the sights, the aromas. Sunshine days that meandered on.
You see, there were still plenty of draught horses in those days, 1950s. The baker used a horse to deliver bread, the milkman drove a horse to bring milk and eggs, and probably butter as well. The coalman drove a horse-drawn cart, the brewers drays were, of course, well known (I believe there are one or two delivering in London still.) I suspect, more of an advertisement than a necessity, although horses can probably negotiate the smaller roads where some of the pubs are situated better than a lorry.
In glorious summer days, a walk along the road after school was a nice jaunt. Standing outside this rickety old shed-like building, smelling the aroma of burnt hair, charcoal brazier and horses was intoxicating, for me. Yes, I know, some of you are saying that noxious fumes like that cannot be nice!
Well, not nice so much as evocative. I have only to put my mind into that set of memories and, voila! Clopping of hooves, stamping of newly shod feet waiting for the tediousness of it to be over. Standing not yoo far away from the roaring fire as the metal heats up. The ring of hammer on steel. The swish of tail flicking impatiently across a silky back: the sound it makes as straw lands on a ton of horseflesh, only to be whisked to the floor. Tremors as a nerve flitches, but the horse has been here before, knows he will not be hurt. So he stands, immobile bar a twitch, a flick, a shiver as the fire pulses.
Smoke, blue streamers, gently curling into the rafters, disappearing through gaps in the wooden sides. Horse withers caught in sunbeams that thread through split beams, catching shining hair, burnishing the chestnut strands, gleaming, glistening: singed hair, redolent of the aroma of the forge. Cold water bucket ready to quench the newly formed shoe, ready to be nailed to the freshly scraped hoof.
Snorts follow as the smith lifts a hefty leg, that he may fit the shoe: finish the set, give grip to the hooves on slippery roads. Clip clop, gently the driver backs the draft horse out and onto the road, into harness, set to haul the cart out onto the roadway. Hey Up! Coaxes the driver, a ton of horseflesh leans into the leathers. Harness brasses jingle as the horse and cart move away.
The smith stokes the fire, ready for the next beast waiting to be reshod. It is memories like these that stir the mind, reminding me that these times, times that were wonderous in their day, have now gone forever. Such is the way of life: we cone, we pass: like all things in their day. And the world moves on.
Happy memories, everyone, whatever they may be.