Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Oh, I woke up in a filthy temper this morning. I like to think of myself as a fairly sunny, optimistic sort of person. I stare and stare at that glass until I can convince myself it is half full. I search for silver linings until my eyes give out. I am keenly aware of my absurd luck in life. But sometimes, for no reason at all, I wake up and it is as if I am being eaten by cockroaches. Everything is dour and black. A hideous domino effect sets itself up in my head. The weather is ghastly, my office is a muddle, I still have not found the Vital Document, I am getting through heating oil at a stupid rate, I have not done enough good work this week, I am in a state of hopeless procrastination, the news is all bad, everyone hates the government, we are going to the dogs. Sod silver linings, it's all hell, and handbaskets.
I do not like to give in to this kind of thinking. I am a huge believer that there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so. I have faith in my own agency. I can choose to see everything as bleak and hopeless, or I can just switch my mind around and find the light. I am not living in the Congo, dammit.
Just occasionally though, the mood feels too strong for me. I can't fight the damn thing. This morning, I decided I should just give in to it. I would stomp about in a filthy temper and try to avoid any other humans, so that I would not contaminate them. That was my plan.
I went out into the cold, ugly day. There is some dirty, slushy snow and everything looks brown and dirty. The sky is low and grey and unkind. My walk would not be a pleasure, but it had to be done, because of the dogs. I stuffed my earphones into my furious ears and set off. I was so cross that I didn't even like any of the songs on my iPod. Oh not bloody Jack Johnson again, with his twinkly little guitar riffs and his stupid sense of happiness.
And then, just as I was halfway round the block, my mood growing blacker with each step, a pair of ducks rose off the burn and flew up into the sky in perfect formation. I have not seen the ducks for months. They usually come in the spring to nest, and I have had many moments of high delight watching them teach their ducklings to swim. It's one of the sweetest sights I ever beheld: the mamma sailing alone, with her tiny line of young behind her, copying her confident movements, while the old dad swims along to the side, watching out for trouble.
The ducks made me smile for the first time since I woke up. It was impossible not to react. It was something about the beauty, and the effortless flight. It was like a little twitch at the curtain of my inexplicable fury. The fleeting thought wandered into my head: maybe things weren't quite so bad after all.
And then, at that very moment, The Saw Doctors came on the iPod, in their full glory. I used to spend a lot of time in the west of Ireland, among the wild Connemara hills, and for one whole summer I listened to nothing but Christy Moore and The Saw Doctors. I had not thought of them for years, and just lately I remembered them and downloaded a couple of their greatest songs. The one that came on now was Michael D Rockin' in the Dail. This is not only an infectious, foot-stomping song, but it is that possibly unique thing: a pop song written in glorious celebration of a politician. Michael D Higgins is a rare political figure: he is a poet, a humans rights campaigner, a teacher, a writer, and a lover of the Galway races. When he was elected to the Irish cabinet in 1993, the young people were delighted, and so The Saw Doctors wrote their song for him.
So there I was, in a hideous mood, the rain starting to fall, and these words came into my ears:
It might be raining and it might be cold, and the bishop's gone and left the fold, but we're standing proud and we're standing tall - we've got Michael D rocking in the Dail for us, Michael D rocking in the Dail.
And I threw my arms in the air and shouted: yes, yes, YES.
Suddenly, with one great song, everything was all right. It was a muddled combination of things. It was the wonderful music. It was the memory of the enchanted time in my twenties that I spent listening to it. It was the reminder that there really are some politicians who inspire. It was the thought of how funny it was for a band to write a song about a cabinet minister.
So I threw off my pathetic first-world troubles, marched down the avenue, yelled along to the song at the top of my voice, went inside, cooked my mother some delicious chicken with green beans for her lunch, ate some mussels myself, drank a pot of very strong black coffee, wrote 1396 words of book, remembered I was a human being with all the frailties and flaws that flesh is heir to, and FELT BETTER.
All because that particular song happened to come on at that particular moment. All because of The Saw Doctors. Bless them, and all who sail in them
Pictures of the day are trees and hills and sky.
If you want to see the dourness into which I went walking, here is an idea:
But, as always, once I started focussing in close, there was colour and beauty:
Even on the dullest day, these extraordinary colours cannot be denied:
There were still the glorious old tree trunks, looking like the feet of old woolly mammoths:
This one has three of my favourite things in one shot: bark, moss and lichen:
The young trees held onto their elegance, even as a dirty drizzling rain began to fall:
Although the Duchess did not look very impressed:
The Pigeon is a sunny creature by nature, but even she was getting fed up:
(Dog-loving readers need not fret; inside it is warm as toast and there are biscuits a go-go and everyone is curled up on very smart blankets, fast asleep and dreaming of sunshine and rabbits.)
Oddly enough, on such a horrid day, the hill looked so dramatic that I had to shoot it several times for your viewing pleasure:
Oh, and just for fun, here are the mussels I ate for lunch:
This may be more information than you need, but they look so pretty on the special turquoise china my mother gave me.
I want to give a good final sentence, but I can't quite think what it is. Perhaps - never forget the power of the songs you love the most. They are like a good deed in a naughty world.
And, if you want to see why I adore Michael D rocking the Dail, you can have a listen here.