Posted by Tania Kindersley.
A low, silent day. Sudden gusts of wind come up out of the south, which is rare, because our winds normally howl down from the north-west. This southern wind carries warmth with it; it is a high, dry, buffeting wind, with no hint of winter in it. I remember vaguely something about three years ago, when the winds came all the way from the Sahara, and left tiny particles of red African sand on the Scottish fields. I remember thinking it was poetic, and extraordinary.
My current policy is not to think about The Thing. I am putting sorrow to one side, for the moment. Yeah, yeah, go the voices in my head: you’ve got all your arms and legs, you’ve got a book to finish, get on with it.
I quite like this voice, actually. It is not a the critical voice, but the practical, prosaic, stoical one. It is the one that stops me falling into solipsism and self-indulgence. It remembers the war, when brave Londoners got through the Blitz, and the doughty Britons sang roll out the barrel as the bombs fell. It’s almost a cultural voice, the one drawn from the cussed, won’t be beaten by the buggers streak that runs through the British character. It’s a phlegmatic voice.
I think one of the things about learning to be a grown-up is discovering the balance between griefs that must be honoured, and wallowing and dwelling. One cannot pretend that every day is Pollyanna day, but nor can one fall into a brown study and write oneself a three-act melodrama. I feel as if I am searching for that balance with my very fingertips.
Things are stuttering towards normal; there are still small glitches. My sleeping patterns are wildly unpredictable. I find it hard to keep up with the news. Most alarming of all, my rampant fascination with politics has gone into abeyance.
This is very odd. My usual geekish treat, after a long day’s work, is to catch up on the minutiae of American politics, via the brilliant MSNBC website, where I may watch Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. Primary season is hotting up; I should be glued to what strange Mr Rick Perry is going to say next, and how stary the staring eyes of Michelle Bachman are.
I should be on the edge of my seat, wondering whether Sarah Palin is going to run or not. Instead, I think: oh, what a bunch of showers. Can someone just say something sensible about unemployment and stop grandstanding for a single second? I have a suspicion that contemplation of mortality makes one impatient with egregious silliness.
This side of the pond, it is conference season. This is usually pig in clover time for me. For a political anorak, it is the equivalent of Fashion Week for the fashionistas. But this year, I have no interest in what Mr Ed Miliband is going to tell the gathered faithful. Yada, yada, I think; same old same old. If one person could just come up with a sane idea for economic growth without scoring party political points, I would send them a bunch of flowers.
Instead of obsessively watching The Daily Politics, with Andrew Neil, I have gone back to history, with Simon Schama. I am finding something soothing about returning to the grand sweep of the story of this island race. Ah, I think, the Wars of the Roses and The Field of the Cloth of Gold and The Dissolution of the Monasteries; that’s more like it. Years ago, I chose to read history rather than English at university because I thought I’ll always read Keats and Yeats for pleasure, but I won’t necessarily be glued to AJP Taylor and Professor Plumb. Oddly enough, twenty-five years on, I find that I have returned to history, rather than poetry, to soften my jagged soul.
It’s not just that it is so interesting, which it is, or that it is helpful for my work, which it also is, but that it is the big stuff. I want big stuff, just now. I have no time for petty political posturing or internecine party rows. I want battles and dynastic clashes and rebellions and sweeping electoral reform.
Outside, the wind whispers sinuously at the window, and the sky turns the colour of pigeons. I shall do some work, and make some soup. And then I shall read something fascinating about The Long Parliament, for a special treat.
Today’s pictures are of our walk:
Autumn leaf action. The horse chestnuts are the first to turn:
Whilst the beeches remain green:
I found a perfect pigeon feather, and stuck it on a tree and took a picture of it:
And then contemplated the moss on the old stone wall, because I love contemplating moss:
Up at the end of the avenue, the Pigeon thought she saw a rabbit. Did it go that way?:
Ah, well, never mind:
Then we got back to the house, after some excellent stick-throwing, and the dogs looked like this. Visiting poodle:
And the hill, rather ethereal in the low light: