AN acquaintance of ours, recently returned from London...

SALMAGUNDI

October 21, 1994

AN acquaintance of ours, recently returned from London, reports that he spent an hour or two one afternoon in the Royal Mews adjacent to Buckingham Palace.

He was intrigued by the collection of royal coaches, such as the gold State Coach, which is drawn by eight bay horses, with four postilions, each of whom ride the left horse of each pair. Also the state landaus -- four bay horses, two postilions -- used by the likes of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York for their weddings.

While admiring these vehicles he was startled by the sound of a horse trotting by. He turned to see a red delivery van, in the livery of Fortnum & Mason, the food purveyors, drawn by a real high stepper and driven by a smartly attired young woman costumed in black.

No, she was not delivering tea and crumpets for the Queen's afternoon repast. Rather, she was heading for the horse trough so that her mare could quench her thirst.

It seems that troughs where wagoners could water their horses have all but disappeared in London. The few that still stand are waterless. Thus a special concession to Fortnum & Mason and also to Harrods, the department store, which still have horse-drawn delivery vans (for the carriage trade?) to water their horses at the Royal troughs in the Royal Mews.

* * *

FORGOTTEN wisdom from Harry S. Truman:

"Whenever you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship."

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