April 27, 2011: I opened the door this morning to see an open carriage going past. Two high-stepping black horses were trotting in unison. I waved at the coachperson, a young woman who was as smartly turned out as the rest of the equipage. Unexpected sights such as this make one feel that London is worth the effort.
Presumably, the carriage came from the Royal Mews, and the horses were being conditioned to road traffic in advance of the Royal Wedding. Women do drive Her Majesty’s horses these days, as well as serving as footmen, but it was a man, sitting beside the lady coachman, who read the map.
Perhaps one result of the Royal Wedding will be a revival of carriages. Why not? The clip clop of hooves on Tarmac is much gentler than the noise of metal-shod wheels on cobblestones, which the Victorians suffered. Admittedly, if horses caught on, some bijou mews houses would have to be converted back to their former use.
The Greens might be happy-until they think of the huge amounts of agricultural land around London that used to be required to grow oats and hay as feed. The modern public would also object to cruel cabmen whipping horses in the Strand. But, in this age of billionaires, couldn’t carriage driving return to Hyde Park?