You probably won’t believe this but just setting up to write about this I decided to put some music on; an internet radio station; Think Floyd, and immediately, now playing, is Dogs, from their (Pink Floyd) Animals album, this recording apparently ‘Live in Oakland, 1977’. Weird coincidence.

So this is exactly what it says on the tin – a book about animals, and family. Clare grew up at a horse training stables, and tells of her life through relationships with her animals, and what was going on for her at the time those animals were in her life. For those perhaps outside the UK who do not know her, Clare is a TV sports presenter. Her fame rose rapidly during the BBC coverage of the 2012 Olympics, and then really entered the hearts of many when she co-presented the subsequent Paralympics for Channel 4 with Ade Adepitan, the wheelchair basketball player. It seems that as the 2 weeks of the Paralympics unfolded, she was profoundly moved, touched and inspired by what she saw and who she met. We were in the main stadium on the final Saturday and Clare had been invited from the TV studios to the stadium give out a medal – 80,000 people, many of whom you felt had a personal connection to disability as well as sport, rose as one. She had become ‘one of us’ and we welcomed her proudly. You could see she was very moved. And so were we. Good on her!

Anyway back to the book. It was an extraordinary life – with parents and grandparents seemingly having greater connection and understanding with their animals than with their children. And Clare in turn finding succour and safety in the company of various dogs, ponies and horses. The ‘not average’ life continues with stories such as coming into the kitchen early in the morning and finding the Queen next door having breakfast (her father, Ian, was trainer for the Queen’s horses).  Going to a boarding school is familiar to some in the UK, but not the majority. Winning female ‘Jockey of the year’ is also a minority experience. Yet this is not the ‘favoured person, special life’ experience you might expect from reading this. She simply tells it straight. Sometimes you squirm reading how she describes treatment from family. And she doesn’t hold back on her own mistakes – telling how she got caught for shoplifting amongst many misdemeanours. And so what is left is someone simply telling of their life, without angles or agenda. This is a courageous work, an inspiring work, a caring and sensitive work. And, perhaps why I love it most, a profoundly human story of a life so far. She leaves it till the end to come out clearly to the reader about her sexuality, though she’s been in a civil partnership since 2006. And perhaps that is something of an underlying theme: being true and honest to who you are. In the book she recounts answering the doorbell as a young girl. The visitor tells “You look a little like your father, a little like your mother and, most of all, you look a lot like you.’ ‘Good.’ she replies. ‘I want to be me.’ (The caller was Lord Weinstock, an incredibly wealthy and important industrialist). Clare is definitely her own, unique self. Sharon says this is the best autobiography she has read.