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27 Aug


Pony photo: Cute Pony cool-pony.jpg

Pifco the pony wanted a bell.

His wasn’t the easiest of lives because he was used to take human girls for rides down the lanes near where he lived, and some of them were pretty nasty creatures, mostly unintentionally.

There was, for instance, Mirabelle who almost smelt faintly of urine, and there’s nothing Pifco hated more than the smell of human urine. It was truly nauseous and one day, without thinking, Pifco even bolted down the street without his rider in order to escape the pong. Yet in other ways Mirabelle could be kindly, and she always had a pocket full of sugar cubes with her. The trouble was, though, the all-pervasive stink that came with Mirabelle somehow managed to find its way into her sugar cubes, and some of them were, frankly, much too acrid for a delicate pony like Pifco to enjoy.

Then there was Daisy-May. Daisy-May had the kind of voice that sent humans mad and it had a worse effect on ponies like Pifco. It shrieked and whined and sometimes managed to enter registers so high that it was beyond human hearing. And that maddened peace-loving creatures like Pifco and made him stamp his feet and threaten to throw his rider, that rider being Daisy-May. But only threaten: Pifco was really a very kind pony.

I suppose I should mention Christina, especially as this story is partly about her. She came from the largest house in the area, the one at the top of the hill and rumoured to have seventeen bedrooms, though Christina wasn’t the kind of girl to count them. She was a superior person, and knew it. Everything about her was best, or even better than best, and she made sure everyone knew it, though the truth was very different from her haughty ways might suggest.

So she was unlikely to ever ride a pony shared by what she saw as lesser girls, but she did because (and Pifco soon realised this) her big house with its brocaded curtains was like a stable without any straw. It was all appearance. All prettiness on the outside and deckchairs inside. All stucco walls with pretty wooden beams outdoors and black and white television indoors. And Christina, when she saw just how easily Pifco (by the twitch of his ears) could see through the pretence that was her whole life couldn’t help being spiteful and cruel. She was the worst of the riders and if Pifco hadn’t felt sorry for her he might have thrown her more than once.

Pifco wanted a change in the way he lived his life. He wanted people to know when he was happy and aware when he was miserable, but the silly creatures that were human beings didn’t seem able to understand the clearest messages that he sent them.

Then one day a fire engine went past him, doing a phenomenal speed on its way to the big house at the top of the hill. At the time there was nobody out for a ride on him and he was allowed to saunter down the lanes in total freedom because, well, he’d arranged it for people to put absolute trust in him. He wasn’t going to go where he wasn’t supposed to go, and his owner knew that. She was a kindly and understanding old lady with a nice voice, no smell of urine anywhere about her and not one spiteful habit.

The fire engine went at such a speed it even made Pifco jump, but it had warned him. It had a bell, the sort that clangs in a cracked and discordant way, and it rang like mad as it approached the pony. A fireman on board the machine was frantically yanking it backwards and forwards using a short leather strap attached to it. And as the bell clamoured and crashed the fire engine raced past Pifco.

At the top of the hill it stopped and from his position half way up the hill Pifco could see Christina wailing and gnashing her pretty white teeth and waving her arms, and he could see the spirals of smoke leaking out of the big house and the bright yellow and gold flames mixed with black smoke jumping out of the chimneys. The house was on fire! At least, its chimneys were!

He watched as a fireman unrolled a long hosepipe and made to go into the house.

“You can’t go in there!” Pifco heard the horrid Christina warble. “You might see the deckchair where papa sits!”

Papa was her father, a plump and tweedy man who always needed a shave and who carried a walking stick even though he was perfectly capable of walking without one, but he did need something to poke poor people with as he passed them by, not really understanding that if you took his big house away he would be seen as the poorest of the lot.

The fireman ignored Christina, knowing her for the little bitch that she was, and took his hose into the house and started squirting water over everything. It was just as well, he thought, that everything wasn’t really very much!

The trouble with that big house was that it was very old and tinder-dry and the flames spread, and when it got either too hot or too dangerous for the fireman he dragged his hose back out into the open and shrugged his shoulders and turned his tap off. This was one house that was going to burn right down to the ground. He could tell that. He had been a fireman for long enough to learn the signs. And he was right.

The fire burned down to the ground, and the fireman muttered sad little homilies to Christina and her Papa, and drove his fire engine back down the hill, smiling slightly to himself.

And Pifco, at that moment, realised that he, like the fir engine, should have a bell. He would be able to warn smelly girls not to smell, whiney girls not to whine and plain nasty girls not to be nasty. Yes, he needed that bell!

Which is why he was to be seen in the little village shop, taking up just about all the space provided for customers, and nuzzling politely against a middle-sized brass bell that was on sale for only five pounds.

And, yes, he did have five pounds!

© Peter Rogerson 27.08.15