Horsepower

Today’s short post answers the age-old equestrian, how many horsepower does a two-horse carriage have? Careful — it might be a trick, so I had better take the reins. (Which reminds me, recently someone in a nationally syndicated column used the wrong version of the homonyms rein/reign in an expression. She said that some overly-forceful, type-A personality in the news should be “reigned in” as in controlled or pulled back, whereas I believe that the phrase is based upon the horse-related reins; the kind of “reign” spelled with the ‘g’ refers to the period of time when some lucky character with royal blood gets to sit in the big chair and boss people around. Off with her head!)

I was driving through Strathkinness today, which has extremely narrow streets. Indeed, many of Scotland’s streets are cunningly designed so that they are just wide enough so that two vehicles cannot pass. When driving, one must quickly judge if the vehicle one is piloting can indeed fit, or if not, one should quickly duck to the side and allow the larger vehicle, the one that can crush yours like a fried piece of bacon with a rolling pin, to pass by. Scotland and the rest of Europe has many tiny cars with engines seemingly better suited to sewing machines, but there are also very large trucks — they call them “lorries” here — vying for road-space.

As I crawled along in the 20 mph High Street through Strathkinness, I saw a strange sight coming my way. First, I saw that the clip-clopping conveyance was bigger than mine, so I pulled over, and as it got closer I realized that it was a horse-drawn carriage, boasting precisely two horsepower. I love horsepower, so I waved at the driver. He waved back. I drove away with a smile.

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