Everyone knew who Red Riding Hoof was. Her family was a well-known one in the area - wealthy, and with a large house and stables. They were all keen horsey people and often held gymkhanas and such-like. So, it was difficult, in a small village community, to conceal the fact, as Red Riding Hoof galloped around on her pony, that one of her feet looked strikingly similar to those of the animal. And, of course, there were stories about how it had happened, which belong to a different kind of blog altogether and will not be dealt with here.
|RRH was less worried about being eaten and more worried that if the wolf ripped back the blanket, the awful truth would be revealed.|
Poor RRH, born with one normal foot and one hoof. Her mother had intended calling her Ruth. But when she was born, it was obvious that a pretty name like this wasn't going to do at all. A conversation had ensued between RRH's mother and father about what to do. This is how it went.
F: She has a hoof.
M: I can see that. I may be the mother of a freak, but I'm not blind. Sore down below after a record-breaking episiotomy, but not blind.
F: If I'd been in another story and married a beautiful new wife, I bet she wouldn't have borne a child who was half equine.
M: Not quite half. It's only her right foot.
F: Only? That's like Crippen saying, 'I only murdered them a bit'. Put it this way, going into a shoe shop and saying, 'One size 3 and one side 149, please' is going to be embarrassing. And you'll be the one cutting her toenails, sunshine.
M: Look, enough of this. We have a real dilemma now. What shall we call her? Ruth doesn't seem right any more.
F: Well, how about 'Hoof'? It rhymes! Yay!
M: Oh so subtle. Our neighbour has a child with a stammer, but they didn't call her 'M-M-M-Margaret'. Why advertise the problem?
F: This seems one case in which advertising will be completely superfluous.
M: Okay, let's go with 'Hoof' if we must. But it sounds a bit harsh on its own. It needs something else to neutralise it, otherwise she may as well go round yelling, 'Look at me! PARTLY GIRL and PARTLY MARE'.
F: Well, let's qualify it with 'Riding'. Call her 'Riding Hoof'. After all, the horse thing is in the family. Even more so now, it seems. And while we're on the subject ....
M: Ahem. Not on this blog, dear. Don't you think she's pretty, though?
F: Yes, dear. As pretty as a beetroot. She's a funny colour, isn't she? Are all babies that puce?
M: I don't know. Remember, she's our first.
F: And the last, if it's anything to do with me. We've just replaced all our carpets with expensive wooden floorboards, and more than one clopping around like she's training for the Grand National would be too much to bear.
M: Aw, poor, wee thing. She's crying.
F: And she's gone even more puce. Any minute now and she'll rival the invention of neon.
M: Well, with her being so ... er ... naturally colourful, why don't we call her 'Red' Riding Hoof? That has a nice ring to it.
F: I swear I've heard something like it before, though. Something I've read, maybe? Why not 'Puce Riding Hoof'?
M: I like the alliteration in 'Red Riding'.
F: Well, why not use the 'Ruth' idea after all, and call her Red Riding Ruth Hoof?
M: Pff. That's just silly. You can't give a kid four names. How ridiculous would that sound?
F: Okay. Agreed, then. Just Red Riding Hoof.
M: Agreed. Now, you go home and get the stabl ... nursery ready.
F: What do I do with all the lacy booties you knitted?
M: Er .. keep all the left ones. The others can be sent to charity.
F: Yeah, well likely that is! A charity for kids who have the hooves on the right. I'll google it. Bound to be loads.
M: Very funny, not. And you wonder why I spend all my time in the stables ...?
F: Yes, I was going to ask you ....
M: Not on this blog you can't.