I went to grammar school - one of the 'elite' 5% just after the war. The village kids gave me hell. You were destined for great things and your parents had to 'sign you on' till you were eighteen, presumably university headed.
When I was sixteen my father wheedled me out of school on the pretext that I was to get practical experience before going to agricultural college. Rubbish. He promptly left me in charge of his business and went abroad with his latest mistress.
All school leavers got a little 'homily' from the headmistress. "I see you" said she judicially "as working with people." Me, "but I hate people" (at that time I had good reason to). Then she said 'you can't fall in love with a horse'. She was wrong. My current love weighs half a ton, and burnishing her massive hind quarters is super therapy. When I went to exercise my horses before school they were often lying comfortably in the early summer sunshine. I would curl up in the curve of their head and neck, and doze with them.
Our daughters in their early teens would erupt into the garden, tearful and hating the parents, getting as far as the latest Labrador, fall round his huge neck and tell him all. That dog worked harder than the Samaritans. Our current cat, so beautiful, often has her coat washed by my tears of despair late at night, and she always has a sympathetic lick for me.
At the orphanage we supported in a poor village in India, the most joyful welcome was the day they could have animals in the new building. Those hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs were almost literally 'loved to bits'. The brand new building where my husband goes for respite has marvellous facilities - one thing missing - rabbits and chickens are to be introduced in the large grounds.
And, greatest joy after the massacre of my birds last year, I have an abandoned garden to rescue. I'd hardly put my tools down, when there was a 'Tsk, tsk' above me. The resident robin, 'Well, get digging, then'. A bird table will go in before the fertiliser.
A Moodscope member.