Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Today is official deadline day. Ha! I laugh in the face of its puny plan. I beat it by a whole 36 hours.
I used those hours to lapse into a state of mild catatonia, interspersed by keen pleasures.
I watched the racing. The mighty Frankel did what so many people hoped, and cantered away with the big race at Ascot, against the top milers in the world, by four lengths, easing up. He has never been beaten. His form just goes: 1111-11111. It’s a sort of poetry.
He has the look of eagles now. He carries an air of infinity. He does not preen, because he does not need to. When he comes into the winning enclosure, to applause and whoops and whistles, to a polite racing crowd cheering as if they were at a football match, he does not throw his head up and skitter about, as so many thoroughbreds would. A top-class three-year-old racehorse is a finely bred creature, temperamental, a part of them still slightly untamed; met with that kind of noise, they could freak out. Frankel just looked at the crowd, quite calm, not showboating or grandstanding, as if to say: ‘I know’.
He’s a beautiful horse. He does what he does unbelievably well. He is an animal of glory and grace.
I thought: I am really, really lucky to have seen that.
The next day, there was a family lunch. The great-nieces and nephew were there, in their Sunday best. The smallest Small, who is still very tiny indeed, is a very thoughtful little fellow. He spends quite a lot of time gazing into the middle distance, thinking important thoughts. Occasionally, he breaks out into a wide smile and says: ‘Digger’, for no special reason except that diggers are his favourite things. He spent some time very, very gently stroking The Pigeon, who lay quite still for him, as his tiny little hand patted her fur.
Then I made some more chicken soup, went to bed, and slept ten hours straight.
This morning, I got up, went down, let the dog out, and collected the post. There was a slim packet from Amazon. I have not ordered any books, I thought, although I have been nutty enough in the last week to have done a secret book purchase and forgotten all about it.
I opened it up, and found a beautiful book about a man who planted trees. It is elegantly bound, and illustrated with woodcuts. There was a note. It was from a Dear Reader. An unfeasibly kind reader sent me a book. I felt quite overcome and slightly tearful. It was such an unexpected thing, so generous and thoughtful. Everyone says the world is going to the dogs, that we live in a spoilt and selfish culture, riven with commercial imperatives and sullied by celebrity obsession. But still, here, in dear old Blighty, there are the random acts of kindness, to reassure and console.
So, thank you, Cassie, not just for the lovely present, but for the reminder of the essential goodness which still survives.
(And thank you all for the incredibly kind and supportive messages you have left, over the last few days.)
Now, I am going to take a week off. I am going to catch up with the news, and reacquaint myself with the world. I am going to cook things. I am going to read my delightful new book. I am going to throw the stick for The Pigeon, and get the garden ready for winter. (There are rumours of snow on the Grampians today, and there is the first proper chill in the air, as if the weather is getting serious.) I might even, if I am very bold, make an attempt to tidy up my office.
Dirty old dreich old day today, so here are a few pictures from the last week, when the sun was shining:
Autumn is getting its groove on, but the beeches are still green as green. In a few weeks, all that will be bright scarlet:
There has been a sudden, unexpected flowering of the chives:
And the marjoram still has tiny blooms on it:
I love this tale of Two Pigeons – serious face:
Hill, in panorama:
And some lovely Frankel pictures for you, from Saturday's triumph:
Leaving everything trailing in his majestic wake:
Photograph by Getty Images.
Jockey Tom Queally, hugging him after the race:
Photograph by Eddie Keogh, for Reuters.
At his turbo-charged finest:
Photograph by Steve Parsons for the PA.
And I love this one, of him on the gallops at home, looking as relaxed as an old hound:
Photograph by Alan Crowhurst for Getty Images.
There is a video of the race here, if you want to have a look:
Especially watch him going down to the post, as collected as if he were a dressage pony. That's almost my favourite part.