I can’t say I’ve ever actually had a kingdom.
Or a horse.
Trying to establish a transactional value of two entirely out of my range of experience items isn’t really that straightforward, particularly when I’ve never been the best judge of value.
I mean, a kingdom is a fairly big investment, probably much less risky than a horse. Though in both there’s the potential for hidden dangers and values (oil or republicans; thoroughbred or high glue potential).
I guess in context, it’s simply the idea of being willing to trade everything you own for the chance to save your life. I guess the quickest immediate comparison would be me, palpitating on the floor, yelling ‘my record collection for a defibrillator’.
Possessions (even kingdoms) stop being important as you lay on the floor with a gut wound. When life starts seeping out of you, holding on to anything seems worthless. You can’t take it with you, after all.
But then, there’s the notion of passing it on. Keep it in the family, or give it to the nearest person with an available horse (admittedly, probably that someone is further away these days). The important thing here is to remember that it is important to keep the kingdom at a standard where it is still useful for the next generation, whether they have handy horses or not.
And of course, I don’t think kingdoms are something that should be exchangeable. It’s not exactly property in the strictest and most straightforward sense. It’s not just about exchange value or stewardship. A kingdom is a state is the lives of it’s people.
I imagine wandering wannabe despots, roaming the world with handfuls of horses, just waiting for a dying monarch to start quoting Shakespeare.
I’d rather have a horse than a kingdom. Though I’m never quite sure how comfortable I am with the concept of horse owning or riding. Or even pet owning, for that matter. Dogs and cats are kinda okay. Dogs clearly love it, and cats are clearly in charge. Things in cages make me sad though. It seems somewhat perverse. Horses have their own layers of stuff. What with shoeing and riding and breaking and running. And they are clearly made for larger spaces than their paddocks.
But horse and rider, united in purpose, massive muscular running machine and person that wants to get somewhere. Put like that it doesn’t seem okay. But when you see it. It looks right. It looks intimate, natural and sexy. (Natural is possibly my least favourite word in the English language, I wish I didn’t use it ever).
So I’d kinda love to have a horse.
But a kingdom? I wouldn’t know where to start.
I don’t even know which end you put the petrol in. I’ve never been renowned for my statecraft.
So, I would take the swap. And then feel guilty forever; for owning an animal more beautiful than myself, and for giving up a chance to make the world a better world.
Illustration by Adam.