This picture was taken by my husband Simon several days after this little colt entered the world. I have always adored horses and have owned them for most of my adult life. When I was a young girl, I was given a red setter – it was the nearest thing to a horse that I was allowed to have in the house.
My mare was due to foal at the end of April last year. The only way to ensure that we would be there to witness it was to hire a mobile home and park at the stables where she was at livery, which was quite a long way from our home.
We hired it for the weekend she was due. At the time, we had just begun pre-production for our latest film, The House that Mary Bought. So in the daytime we were in the office, and at night in the stable-yard.
The weekend passed and there were no particular signs from the mare, so we extended the stay day after day, and soon a week had passed. It was a hysterically funny time trying to conduct “business as usual” while flying back and forwards to home for a bath, to the office for telephone calls and back to the stables to sit it out and wait. By the following week, we had installed a phone in the mobile home and our assistants were also making regular trips to and fro. Simon then had to visit the studios in Luxembourg where filming was due to start in 10 days. We were fearful that the foal would arrive during his absence, but it didn’t. Simon was only away for one night but on his return, he was horribly overtired – in fact we both were. But he was beginning to lose his sense of adventure and humour about it all.
The vigil had been 10 days of round-the-clock patrol – up at 1am, 4am, and then up for good at 6am. On the night of Simon’s return, we decided that the mobile home was so cramped and uncomfortable that we should part company and sleep at opposite ends of the van. Simon chose to take the bunk-bed above the driver’s seat. In the morning, we were awoken abruptly by the phone. Simon leapt up to answer it and hit his head on the roof. We were both in fits of laughter.
Twenty-four hours later, at 4am, the alarm went off. It was below freezing and I dressed quickly, putting on layer after layer. It was pitch black and exceptionally quiet in the stable-yard as I entered the stall and climbed on to a box to reach the light switch. Through the silence, there came a rustle of straw. Even in the darkness I was aware that there was an extra presence in the stable. Tentatively, I turned on the light – Sparky was born.