Thursday, 14 December 2017

Pantomime Horse Race

Last Sunday we went to see the Pantomime Horse Race in Greenwich, south London. Despite the snow, ice, slush and sleet, we set out for Greenwich by train, well wrapped up against the wintry weather and with an essential supply of chocolate flavoured biscuits in our bags*. As soon as we were on the platform, looking up and down the white railway lines, I wondered whether we had been somewhat hasty in our enthusiasm to see the event. But once we were on the train, the heaters under the seats restored our interest in having an unusual day out.

* "bags" Insert vowel and keep B clearly thick, as it is similar to "packs, pockets, buckets" - all containers

Such events always involve some waiting around for things to begin*, so we allowed plenty of time to get there, and walked around Greenwich Park, now white instead of green. There are a lot of grassy slopes in this park and we could* see children and adults sliding down and toiling up on the steeper ones with their lightweight plastic sledges. There were a few small snowmen dotted about, quite a feat of construction*as the snow was barely an inch thick, but there was no difficulty finding twigs and stones for the features. We walked up the hill to the Royal Observatory and looked out over the snowy landscape*, with the cold grey river Thames in the distance. A curtain of fine sleet entirely obscured the top halves of all the tall buildings at Canary Wharf on the far bank. How strange for those in the upper offices to see nothing but white out of the window instead of the usual far-reaching views.

* "to begin" Through the line, similar to the short form phrase "to be", similarly "to become"

* "we could" Not phrased, so it is not misread as "we can"

* Omission phrase "of (con)struction"

* "landscape" it is the halved L that is in position, so it does not matter where the base of the P ends up

As the time of the race neared*, we made our way to the grounds of Devonport House. Just before getting there, we saw two police officers on horses coming down the road. Clearly the police horses had requested to be present today, in order to*display their intelligence and calm behaviour, as a fitting contrast to the daft humans in their costumes showing much less decorum than they were. The start time was delayed and meanwhile it had begun to snow with proper*big flakes, much more acceptable than the slushy droplets that had been falling earlier. At last* all the panto horses arrived at the start line, looking very colourful and full of energy, and with larger than usual horses’ feet, covering what I hoped were trainers with good rubber soles to grip the icy patches on the road. The race consists of lots*of short dashes between all the local pubs, taking in short drinks in each one. The first stop was just across the road, and they all managed to arrive at the same time with no straggling* but much noise and merriment.*

* "neared" Halved version of short form "near". Not thickened, as that is used for the "ing-gered/inkered" series of sounds

* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"

* "proper" Always insert the first vowel, and the diphone in "appropriate" as these are similar in outline and meaning

* "at last" "at least" Always insert the vowel

* "lots" "masses" Always insert the vowel

* "straggling" Helpful to insert vowel, as it could also make sense as "struggling"

* "merriment" Using "-nt" for the suffix where "-ment" cannot join

Their arrival at the second pub at the other end of the road was a little more drawn out, but still full of enthusiasm and energy. The dash to the third pub round the corner was slightly downhill, so that was a help to all the horse legs that had failed to practise their running and endurance skills. The fourth pub was immediately opposite the third, so that section of the race took about three seconds, but with no less speed, cheering and noise. We finally saw them run off towards the fifth pub, with legs getting noticeably tired and some of the horses’ heads wobbling about and costumes going awry. I am not sure whether they were suffering from the cold, from the heat of running in costume, or from all the shots that they were drinking. As they disappeared down the road, we decided we had enough photos*and made our way back to the train station. Our fingers were quite frozen*, the gloves getting wet and the camera getting snowed on. There would be more fun and games at the end of the main race, as the first five winners undertook a further obstacle course to determine the overall winner.

* "photos" "videos" Insert the vowel, as theye are similar in outline and meaning

* "frozen" "freezing" Insert the first vowel, as they are similar in outline and meaning

There was never any doubt that the race would go ahead despite the snow, and I think that the weather conditions just added to the silliness, daftness and sheer doggedness of the event. After all, extra cold requires extra drinks, an incentive to press on rather than give up or cancel. I think next year we might be able to follow it all the way round, as by then I will have discovered the best combination of gloves and mittens to keep the fingers operational and actually moving when required. The purpose of the race, apart from the fun had by participants and onlookers, is to raise money for charity, and that is really the main reason why nothing the weather could throw at them would put them off completing this uproarious and nutty spectacle all the way to its soggy but triumphant conclusion. (796)

You can't beat the real thing when you have a need for speed