It was the first day of the school year and Annabelle Purvis, dressed in the uniform of Lushers College for Ladies, was in no hurry. Casually grazing through a magazine, she sprung into action at the sound of her favourite horsechannel.com ring tone. Hoping it was one of her friends, she picked up the lifeline to the world, flipped it open and was greeted the id “Dad”. Annabelle closed the phone and returned to her magazine about horses.
Horses and horse riding were Annabelle’s passion and her bedroom overflowed with horse photographs and posters. Pride of place was given to an original poster from the 1944 movie ‘National Velvet’ staring Mickey Rooney and a young Elizabeth Taylor. When Annabelle was about seven, she saw the film on television one wet Sunday afternoon and was totally captured by the sentimental story of a 14 year old girl who wins the Grand National steeplechase.
After considerable pleading, some tears, and a tantrum that lasted three days, Ray Purvis’s agreed to riding lessons for his daughter. Much to everyone’s surprise, it soon became evident that when it came to horses, the young Annabelle had considerable natural ability.
As Annabelle’s talent developed, her childhood desire to be a jockey was discouraged. The silks of the track gave way to jodhpurs and riding jackets as her parents became enamoured with equestrian gentility. The sophistication of dressage and show jumping offered more than the sweat and grime of the Saturday gallops, including the possibility of an Olympic medal.
Annabelle was soon winning competitions and her parents willingly provided the coaching and horses necessary for her to excel. A glass fronted trophy cabinet, well stocked with cups and ribbons, now held pride of place in the Purvis lounge room downstairs.
Ray Purvis, dressed again in the attire of a yachting land-lubber, was also still at home that morning, working poolside. He put his phone on the white wrought iron table and turned to Ralph Fly, who sat beside him, notebook computer open.
“Christ! All she has to do is get to school on time.” Ray said to his young assistant. “Every morning before school, I had to deliver milk and the newspapers if I wanted tea that night. Kids today have had it too bloody easy if you ask me.”
Realising the possible offence this last comment might cause his young protégé, Ray switched to his smooth, milky tone. “Not you of course Ralph. How are you going with those figures?”
“It’ll be difficult Mr Purvis.” Ralph said apologetically. “The main problem’s going to be …”
Purvis cut him off. “Don’t get hung up on the difficulties Fly.” Purvis picked up his phone and punched the redial button.
Most children have acquired the basic skills of ‘playing the parents’ by the time they are 10. A few go on to hone these skill into an art form during the tween years and Annabelle was a master of the art. She had inherited from her father an innate understanding of the importance of timing when trying to get what you want and now was not the time to push her father any further. She answered the call.
“It’s after ten, aren’t you going to school today?” Ray Purvis barked at his seventeen year old daughter.
“Of course I am, but I’m not dressed yet.” Annabelle lied with convincing ease. “You said I could go riding this morning.”
“You were back hours ago. What have you been doing?” Purvis demanded as Fly turned the computer screen towards him.
“Don’t hassle me Dad, I had to have a shower didn’t I?”
“A shower!” Purvis shouted down the phone. Then, something on the screen caught his attention. “Hang on.”
Purvis jabbed the laptop screen. “Just make sure there’s enough for our commission.” He told Ralph Fly before returning to the telephone conversation with his daughter. “Sorry honey, business. Now don’t take too long. Briggs has got to go shopping for your mother and he’s waiting to drop you at school.”
“Okay Dad,” Annabelle replied looking at her watch. “Tell him I’ll be ready in ten minutes.”
Ray Purvis put the phone on the wrought iron table and looked directly at Ralph. “I’m relying on you Fly. Fleece Industrial is getting a bit twitchy, so I’ll need a good set of figures.”
In the next episode, “Brat Pack Encounter”, Jane Thomas is targeted by the brat pack on her first day at school but a rescuer is at hand.