Posted by Tania Kindersley.
There is an odd little scratching voice in my head which says this blog should not really be about me. For a start, it was begun as an adjunct to the book, and it was supposed to be Sarah and me together. That did not really happen, because Sarah has two jobs and a husband and two children and a dog and a social life. It turned, insensibly, into my obsession. Then the dogs pictures began, and the thin end of the wedge was firmly inserted.
But still, the idea persists that I should write about things: what is happening in Libya, the state of the government, the madness of the GOP, whether or not there will be a second great crash (on gloomy days, I fear there might be). I must must must NOT fall into the Great Blogging Trap, which all the grumpy critics cite ad nauseam, and do the solipsism shuffle.
There is also an idea that I should not talk about the medium itself too much, or the serpent will eat its tail, and everyone will run for the exits. But I do find the process absolutely fascinating: because it is so new, because everyone does it in different ways, because the blogosphere is, unlike newspapers and magazines, so various, so unruly, so anarchic. There is no accepted template to which everyone must cleave; hundreds of millions of people are making it up as they go along. This really interests me.
Yesterday, after I did my riff on the question of gay marriage, I completely freaked out. I sent an emergency email to my friend The Man of Letters, who is my touchstone in all matters literary, saying: Have I Gone Too Far? He wrote back, rather sternly: if your writing is not stirring people up, you are not doing it right. What I realised, oddly, is that here, in this place, I do not much want to stir people up. I know that whenever one wades into matters Biblical, one risks controversy, and I have discovered, rather to my surprise, that I do not want the blog to be a controversial place. On the other hand, I also know that I cannot sit by and let people like Melanie Phillips cast aspersions on people I love.
In life, I have some pretty trenchant opinions. I wage a daily battle against dogmatism, and crank my mind open with a wrench so that I do not become one of those annoying smug set in stone liberals who think they are right about everything. But I have a fatal tendency to what my old dad calls 'making statements'. I do not crave confrontation, but I have a complete inability to let things go. I am always rolling up my sleeves and wading in. Now I have my very own blog: what better place to start hares running?
And yet, and yet. Generally, I don't. Quite often, if there is some big controversy which everyone is shouting about, like the Sky sexism row, I'll do a recipe and some dog pictures instead. Sometimes this is because whatever the yelling du jour is about is so complex that I cannot fit it into a neat 800 words; I don't want to bang on and bore people. Sometimes I feel everything that has to be said has been said. But sometimes it is because I simply do not want to get a huge debate underway.
I think, and I am still working this out in my head, it is because, most oddly, this has become a safe place. Obviously, the radical in me despises this kind of bourgeois sentiment. Who needs safety when the world is so oppressed? Yet because the internet and the new media and the relentless 24 hour news has created a maelstrom of sound and fury, I love that my dear readers are so kind and polite. I love that we are not yelling at each other about ideological shibboleths. I love that in the almost two years I have been doing this there has been only one mildly disobliging comment. I love that you appear to love the dogs and the hill and the lichen.
After all my frets, it turns out I need not have worried. The response to yesterday's post was as generous and thoughtful as always. The blog remains a place of courtesy and good hearts.
I can't work out if all this is a massive cop-out, or a fairly sane response to a sometimes insane world. Maybe it's a little bit of both. I'm not sure there is a definitive answer. I really just wanted to write about it because it was not what I expected to happen, and I find it interesting.
But just at this very minute, none of it matters very much because - THE SUN HAS COME OUT. After days and days of determined dreich, there is light and even warmth. I ran into The Man in the Hat, and we walked our dogs round the block together, and I was so excited that I shouted at him for twenty minutes. I have a terrible habit of yelling when I am happy. He did not seem to mind too much. The dogs ran about in the woods, and sniffed the air, and picked up enormous sticks. Above us, the birds were going crazy, flirting it up, and chasing each other over the dogwood like shameless hussies. I started to believe that spring really will come.
PS. Am thinking of the earthquake in New Zealand. At least two of my regular readers are from New Zealand, and I know more of you have family there, so I am hoping that you are all alright. Send me a line to let me know.
Now for the pictures; for once, not of the murk.
The light on the tree trunks:
The burn and the bridge. Yesterday, that water was the colour of old mud; today it is blue:
The light, the light:
My favourite pile of logs:
The viburnum, clearly proud that it is still the only flowering plant in the garden:
Off go the ladyships:
They have spotted something:
Yes, yes, it is the Man in the Hat (see the yearny looks of love he gets):
And, wonder of wonders, the hill has reappeared. I was so excited I took it from several different angles: