A Knight’s Tale (77: “As Long As I Can Have That One”)

Within two years of qualifying as a Social Worker at Croydon I began supervising students on the course. These were one at a time until one of the established tutees gave up to become a Director of Social Services elsewhere. in mid-course. By this time I was conducting the weekly Experiential Group designed to facilitate learning what it was like to be a member of a group and how roles were established. Wolf asked me to take on another student. I agreed, as long as I was able to choose one who I knew from the group. Pointing out the name of Carole, who was to become a lifelong friend, I said “As long as I can have that one”.

I should explain that these tasks were undertaken in time I that, to some extent, balanced out considerable extra hours worked as first a Deputy, then as Area Manager in Westminster.

Later, when I had a vacancy for a Team Leader and Carole was ready for the post, she applied for and gained, a post heading the team in which she had been a student.

Rats, as we well know, can be friendly and loyal pets.  This is not necessarily the case.  When we lived in Soho’s Chinatown the story was rather different.  In London you are said to be never more that a few metres from a rat.  In this area, where the sun never sets on restaurants, it was more likely centimetres.  We had very thick window frames and one very stout window box.  We wondered what could be gnawing its way through this seasoned timber.  Our friend Carole Littlechild, one night provided the answer.  Asleep on the floor in the sitting room she had been disturbed by the patter of tiny footsteps.  Across her face.  It was indeed a rat.

Carole has, for most of her life, owned a horse. The one we knew was April. This was the only time I ever became a fleeting equestrian.

There is no doubt that Jessica, Carole, Matthew, Becky, and Michael all had better seats than I.


  1. Our household friends. A story for you. Mom was asleep in front of the TV. She woke to turn off the show of a running mouse. Then she woke up fully and realized it was no show, it was a real mouse behind the glass in front of the tube. “Hello little mouse,” she said.

  2. The name Croydon fell straight into my eye and I read experiential group as experimental group (and believed it as such for the ensuing paragraph)! I thought, oh, that’s Croydon alright! 🙂

    Photography (or rather, photographs): such a different form in the 70s. Real stories being told.

  3. I like how Carole became a colleague and friend–even after a rat walked across her face. We’ve had mice, but not a rat!
    Lovely that you and your family got to ride Carole’s horse.

  4. Rats and mice have long been fellow travelers with mankind, adapting beautifully to human living conditions. throughout the ages. 🙂

    Those are wonderful photos of you all on horseback, Derrick!

    1. Thank you so much, Lavinia. Several of my children have kept rats as pets. Matthew had one that would come upstairs and sit outside his bedroom door every morning.

  5. I have often enjoyed experiential groups and horses. Rats, not so much. I rode horses a lot in my teens and had my own horse for almost a year in my early twenties before going back to college. It looks like a larger horse would be more comfortable and improve your seat.

  6. Is that one of the sources of your affinity with the equestrian friends? Thy have been the most loyal and unparalleled companions of humans, matched only by dogs.

  7. I share the brevity of your equestrian experience – perhaps not as dignified though: my father placed me on the horse he occasionally rode to get to various places on the mine – I felt so proud and confident – walked with me a little way and then gave the horse a solid pat on its rump. The horse moved forward and I fell off – no longer proud and never keen to ride again! It is interesting to learn of the way friendships nurtured early mature as we grow older.

  8. I hate rats and could tell a story or two of home invasion but not today.
    Poor Carole, I’ve had one run over my foot… but face, oh that is he stuff of nightmares.

  9. We had a rat problem recently, caused by a builder who hadn’t bothered capping off the old sewers. It really was the patter of tiny feet, Unfortunately, they were in the walls and ceiling.

  10. I’ve always fantasized about riding, but just haven’t. There’s something about horses that makes me nervous. When I see children so obviously enjoying them, I give myself the little “Oh, good grief. If a five-year-old can…” lecture. So far, it hasn’t worked.

  11. Yikes! I cannot handle the occasional mouse around here. One of our dogs dragged a dead mouse into our house long, long ago. I picked it up, thinking it was lint until I saw the tail hanging out of my hand. I was hyperventilating so bad I could not drop it into the trash. I hate mice!

  12. If you’re nervous on a horse, it’s best if you let them be, as you have. I didn’t have a choice, but it turned out ok. My mother’s family were all horse people, and while I never had a horse growing up, would visit my grandfather who said, “Anyone your age should be able to saddle her own horse!” And he’d point me to the saddles and tell me to meet him outside when I was ready. I figured it out…

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