Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Ow, ow, my brain hurts. I am not being metaphorical. My cerebellum actually feels as if it is swollen, and is pressing against my skull. This is because I have done 1539 words today. 1539. That is quite properly vulgar. Graham Greene would never do more than five hundred a day. (This is one of the many, many differences between me and Graham.) I had to think so hard that I could feel my synapses straining with the effort.

I wonder if scientists have done studies of what happens to the brain when it is thinking like a racehorse at full stretch. I would like to read that paper.

As a result, you are not getting the blog I planned. (Yes, I plan my blog posts, which is either touching or tragic, depending on which way you want to look at it.) I woke up this morning with a perfect meditation running in my head about the Right here and the Right in America, and the attributes ascribed to them, and the differences between them. It is something I think about often. For a politics geek like me, it is so fascinating that I have to find new words for fascinating. It is also tied up with assumptions and received wisdom, two of my favourite subjects. I have been wanting to write about it here for some time.

The riff ran like a delicately balanced quartet in my head as I walked the dogs, made my breakfast, tidied the kitchen. Oh, I was pleased with myself, I was going to give you such a treat. Then there was the 1539 words of book, and no more thinking was possible.

I felt an obscure shame. I am letting you, dear readers, down; not giving you the Good Stuff which I had so meticulously planned. This made me think of the oddities of blogging. There is a trope in the media which goes: only political obsessives are interested in what are described as 'process stories'. This means not the policies themselves, but the sausage-making; the way in which political compromises are made, long term balanced against short term, the demands of the base weighed up against the more general good. It is strategy versus tactics; it is how will it play in Peoria.

I find process stories absolutely riveting. Because I am relatively new to blogging, and still don't have a clue what I am doing, I find process interesting here, too. I wonder where the idea comes from that I have entered into a compact with you, the reader. You give me the gift of your time, so I must honour the bargain with the Good Stuff. For some reason, this most often takes the form of some serious meditation on the big issue of the day. Look at me, look, look: I am thinking Deep Thoughts for you. Even as I write this, I see the fatuous absurdity of it.

There are two proofs against this odd idea. The first is that the blogs I most love often have nothing more than a couple of photographs and a quote or a poem or a snatch of prose. The second is that when I do a long and serious post, and feel quite stupidly pleased with myself, I often don't get much reaction. (It is as if I have bludgeoned you into submission.)On a tired day, if I put up something I consider slight and whimsical, and a picture of the dogs, I sometimes get twenty happy comments where I might have been expecting outraged we want our money back complaint.

I feel there is a lesson here, although I am too addled to work out quite what it is. Something about not second-guessing, and to your own self be true, and each to each. Oh, and there is surely a lesson about perfectionism, too. There is no such thing as the perfect blog, any more than there is the perfect anything, nor would that be desirable. Also: just because things do not go exactly as one plans, it does not mean All is Lost. Or something.

Whichever and whatever, I feel very grateful that you stick with me through it, even when I am rambling all over the shop. Especially when I am rambling all over the shop.


Today's pictures:

I was so caught up with work that I forgot to charge the camera battery, so there are no photographs from today. Just as well really, as it is a dull, flat old day outside, as if the hills are holding their breath for the Arctic blast which the weather people promise is coming. So instead I give you a random selection from the last couple of weeks.

Moss with stone:

15th Dec 4

Oh those patient eyes:

15th Dec 2

15th Dec 1


15th Dec 5

The woods:

15th Dec 6

It turns out that some creatures are just as beautiful from the back as from the front:

15th Dec 8-1

While all other creatures want to do is find a really, really good stick:

15th Dec 4-1

The beeches:

15th Dec 7

Moss, lichen and branch:

15th Dec 9

Fallen tree:

15th Dec 8

Tree bark, looking almost like very chic wallpaper recommended by some tremendous style magazine:

15th Dec 10

I know that dogs do not have thoughts, apart from biscuit, throw stick, and tickle stomach. But if they did, this one would be thinking something like: 'Sometimes I am so overcome by my own beauty that I have to shut my eyes':

15th Dec 10-1

This one, on the other hand, is all eyes wide open, all the time, just in case there should be the offer of anything edible or the throwing of a ball:

15th Dec 3


15th Dec 11

Since winter is about to come back with a crazed vengeance, here are some cheering flower pictures which I took when I was in London a few weeks ago:

15th Dec 12

15th Dec 19

15th Dec 14

15th Dec 15

15th Dec 16

15th Dec 16-1

And now I am going to check on my stew.


  1. 1,500 plus words is a chunk and a half (and who can measure how much thought!?!).
    I consider it a "good" day if I manage to get "properly" dressed (no trench coat over pjs) and out of the house and I am not infirm!
    Interested in your take on the Right.
    Very briefly: I have long assumed the English Right is better educated and more well-spoken than their American counterparts (although I think the Americans would shout this down before pulling out the trump card of "God on OUR side"...).
    No pressure.

    Meanwhile, WHAT are you writing? (I obviously missed that blog).

    Pat (lazier than ever in Belgium)

  2. Personally, I think the whole appeal of blogging is disappearing into someone else's mind for a short period of time... It's sort of like social voyeurism in that way, but somewhat less creepy, and with rather more interesting thoughts, and pictures of beautiful dogs.

    Congratulations on the enormous chunk of words, and the stew!

  3. I wouldn't worry about examples set by GG - he may have been more economical in his output but he has been known to leave me almost wanting to kill myself from Catholic guilt. And I'm not even Catholic! So probably not a good role model for writing.

  4. Congratulations on getting so much done! That is brilliant.

    And to be honest I love the whimsy and the Good Stuff (though consider it all to be that) as it is good to see that my tendency to be distracted from big thinking (this morning I woke up incensed about what I think could be the major gap in health service provision based on the proposed reforms of the health service) and then found myself pleased I had shredded stuff, that I was working my way through emails and that one of my staff members seemed okay.

    So to see that YOU who I respect can be distracted makes me feel less like I am disregarding my duties.

    And you are always articulate warm and clever, whatever you write.

  5. Pat - love the idea of achievement being getting out of pyjamas. Am writing book on notions of beauty. Much more demanding than I originally thought, although riveting subject.

    Sam - what a lovely cheering comment. Thank you.

    Santa - GG joke made me laugh a lot.

    Siobhan - incredibly kind and touching comment; thank you so much.

  6. Congrats on the writing, thanks for the ramblings and the pictures! I love when you drift from one subject to another. Love it.

  7. I do love the process too. I will keep you to your promise of a post on the Right here and in the US but no rush!

  8. I'm always interested to read your political observations. I don't answer them because I feel I don't have enough knowledge - it's all so complex. Also, most probably, through mental laziness! I do think about political situations and find The Observer political pages absorbing (quite a golden age of journalism now, I think - hope it survives the digital age). Articles on paper seem to have more depth than those on the screen, which are often rather short with a video thing which I can't be bothered to sit through - the ones I find, anyway. Or maybe I'm just an old fogey who's more used to paper.

    Anyway, well done with all the brain work. I'll be very interested to read the new book. Always love the photos of dogs and lichen - uplifting.


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