WELL it’s been a funny old week, starting with the mystery of how I found myself smelling like a well-used cat litter tray.

Unpleasant odours are an occupational hazard when it comes to working with horses, but I seem to find myself more immersed in equine effluent than any of my colleagues at the morning muck out.

Being short and stout means I cannot always reach to dump my brimming barrow of horse muck into the tractor bucket as it fills up, and I occasionally have to use my belly as an extra booster.

So my shirt tends to become rather whiffy as the morning goes on, and accounts for some barbed remarks around the breakfast table. Even the baby wrinkles her nose and looks at me in a disapproving manner while dipping her sausage into the HP sauce.

“You stink,” says the gaffer. “We have all been doing the same job, yet you are the only who smells as though you have been rolling round the stable, rather than than mucking it out.”

“It’s because you are all taller than me, and don’t have to use your bellies as a battering ram,” I respond weakly.

By the end of my shift, I really hum, and am not permitted in the house when I return to Hextol Towers.

But I was really concerned last week when the usual horsey pong was replaced by something altogether more feline.

I had taken care not to get too close to the equine effluent by wearing some fine new waterproof leggings and a thick sweatshirt, which I discarded in the car boot before arriving for breakfast in triumphant mode.

I had no sooner taken my seat when I became aware of a choking reek of ammonia emanating from somewhere about my person.

“What on earth have you been up to?” came the cry. “You absolutely stink of cat pee! Have you been chasing those two kittens that have taken up residence in the stallion shed?”

I was nonplussed, for I had seen no cats, and had only been carrying out my normal stable duties, rather than indulging in feline frolics.

I pointed out that I don’t like cats, and they certainly don’t like me and I would never knowingly get close enough to one to pick up its bodily fluids.

“They must have peed into some of the straw before I spread it,” I said lamely, realising as I spoke that it would have taken an entire family of sabre-toothed tigers to generate this eye-watering stench.

Mrs Hextol was less than helpful, saying the smell was too bad for my clothes even to sully her washer, and they would have to steep outside in the mop bucket before she would even consider washing them.

The next day, I was even more meticulous in not touching anything remotely cat related, sniffing the straw before I distributed it and making sure there were no tom cats hiding in the rafters spraying down on me.

But at breakfast, the ammoniacal miasma was more pronounced than ever, with a visiting Mrs Hextol declaring: “It’s catching my breath – I can hardly breathe! You’ll have to take your breakfast outside!”

I know cats are the sneakiest creatures on the planet, and have always had it in for me, but I was baffled as to how they were managing to take the pee out of me in such a mysterious fashion.

The next day was uncommonly warm, and I was able to muck out in just shirt, wellies and jeans, without the need for overalls or sweatshirt, and the feline fog was much less pronounced.

As it happened, I had to go a local supplier of agricultural necessities later that week, and found myself searching for my dream garment – a belly protecting waterproof bib and brace boiler suit, as worn by deep sea fishermen, but in more lightweight material and less garishly coloured than those favoured by North Sea trawlermen.

Needless to say, there were none to be found and I found myself looking at a new set of the same type of leggings I had been wearing that week.

An assistant saw me looking and drifted by to advise: “I’d think twice about buying that type of leggings young man – there’s something about the glue they use on the seams that makes them smell of cat pee when they get warm!”