Monday, 27 February 2012

In which you do not ask how I am, but I tell you anyway

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

There is an old definition of a bore. It is: the person who, when you ask how they are, tells you.

The British way, of course, is to say: Fine. Even if your dog has run away to join the circus, you have lost your job, crashed your car, invested your savings in a company whose accounts manager has decamped to the Cayman Islands with the profits, when someone inquires how you are, you smile, wryly, and say: I’m fine.

If things are very, very bad, you may elaborate slightly. Could be worse, you might say. But the ironical smile must still be there. You never, ever say: absolutely bloody awful, actually, how about you?

This is the danger of a blog. Blogs need a hard core of authenticity, to be any good. No one really wants to read about a shined up, glossy, gleamy, perfect life. That just makes everyone feel sad and inadequate, by comparison. Comparisons, are, after all, the number one enemy of modern happiness. The new science of well-being is always pointing out that people would be quite happy with their old telly, for instance, if they did not know that the couple next door have just bought a fuck-off plasma screen. It’s the keeping up with the Armstrong-Joneses that kills contentment stone dead.

So there is a very fine line to be walked between truthful and honest, and incalculably boring. No one wants an endless, undifferentiated wail. That’s no way to start a week.

This is why my fingers are pausing over the keyboard. I am frowning at the screen, wondering if there is a way round the thing. Perhaps I should just do a nice little riff on the Oscars, even though now I am forty-five I have no interest in the Oscars. (In my twenties, I used to sit up with my friend The Actor until five in the morning, watching the whole damn thing and shrieking at the bad frocks and the gushing speeches.) Maybe I should do a serious thing on Syria, or an examination of the Chancellor’s doomy statement about poor old Blighty being broke.

And in any case, it’s not as if it was an awful day. I did some work; I had a ride. It was a good ride. I started to remember strength in my legs I had forgotten; the old muscle memory came back. Heels down, toes up, elbows in; trot on, trot on. There was even a lovely moment when I was riding loosely with one hand and The Cousin laughed and said, ‘Oh, are we doing the Argentinian fashion?’

But this Monday has been mostly a day of extreme grumpiness. Oh my God, I was grumpy. I am not usually a creature of moods. Even if I wake up in a bit of a mood, I can usually bash my way out of it by hopping myself up on coffee and looking blatantly on the bright side. I can sniff out the silver lining in a cloud like a truffle hound on the scent.

I don’t mind emotions. Emotions are good, strong, honest things. I get sad, I get angry about things that deserve anger, I get excited, I get happy. That’s fine. That’s all human condition, in its many varieties. It’s the blah, pointless, formless, nothing moods that kill me. They don’t come very often, but one hit today, for absolutely no reason. It’s like a black heaviness, dragging the body down, paralysing the mind, pressing the head down like a horrid iron hat.

Come on, says my rational, empirical mind. There is a reason for everything. What is at the root of this anomie?

No bloody buggery reason, shouts the irrational mind, which wants to be left alone so it can go and sulk in its room like a moody teen.

Even the Pigeon avoids me when I am in this mood. She goes and has a nice walk with the Four-Year-Old instead, which is much more fun. They both come back looking inordinately pleased with themselves.

I’ll work my way through it, I think. I do work. No change.

I’ll cook my way through it, I think. I make carrot soup and winter salad. Nothing.

I take some iron tonic, which has absolutely no effect.

I’ll drink my way through it, I think, as the clock strikes seven. I get out the Guinness. Guinness, what could be more delicious and nutritious? (My father did not even regard it as alcohol, but more like a health food.) Nada. Still furious.

I even find myself doing that fake smiling, because I once read somewhere that by moving your mouth into a smile you release endorphins into your body. The body does not know, apparently, the smile is not real. It reacts as if the happiness is actual, and reacts accordingly. That’s some stupid bad science, I think, as the filthy mood persists.

There is nothing for it but to admit that there are days when I am not mistress of my own ship. Some days, I am just a grumpy old lady. It’s not pretty, and it’s not clever, and it’s not funny. It is just what it is.

Better in the morning, I think, with the last grain of optimism I have in me. Everything is always better after a good night’s sleep. Some days I have to give up, and this is one of those days.


Far too livid to take the camera out today, so here is a small selection from the last few days:

27 Feb 1 26-02-2012 17-51-00

27 Feb 3 26-02-2012 18-14-53.ORF

27 Feb 5 26-02-2012 18-14-15

27 Feb 5 26-02-2012 18-15-38

27 Feb 7 24-02-2012 16-40-06

27 Feb 8 24-02-2012 17-59-35

27 Feb 9 21-02-2012 18-17-34.ORF

Just look at that Pigeon face:

27 Feb 11 26-02-2012 18-16-27


This is the lovely little mare I rode today. I really have no business feeling grumpy when I have something as delightful as this to ride out on:

27 Feb 22 27-02-2012 13-49-57.ORF


  1. Well no one could say you didn't try. I have been reading my way through Matt cartoon books to lift my own personal cloud. Your diatribe has helped too.

  2. "No bloody buggery reason, shouts the irrational mind, which wants to be left alone so it can go and sulk in its room like a moody teen."

    That sentence alone made me hoot with laughter.

    Truly, there are days where all you can do is be Molesworth, go yar boo sucks to the world and just get through it. No lovely chestnut mare, no sleek and glamorous labrador-cross bitch, no amount of trying to rationalise your way out of it - nothing.

    I figure it's the universe reminding us that sometimes, shit just is. Shovel it. In a week or so, you can think about turning it into compost.

    Hugs, Erika (oh, and slurps from Fearghus and Molly. Winston sends a discreet little nose-print)

  3. I take your grumpy day and raise you a good hand of pointless almost-crying and heavy, heavy sighing. Ugh. I hope when you wake tomorrow it all feels lighter.
    And because I am *only* 44 still, I find much pleasure in your description of 'stupid, bad science'.
    Take care xx

  4. Read! You need to get out of your head for a while and go somewhere happier. It always works for me. Something young like the Green Knowe books. Of course you have to make yourself sit down and do it, which can be a tricky thing. Or my absolute guaranteed cheerer-upper: watching beloved Muppet songs on YouTube. Substitute personal childhood triggers of happiness. Blasting music also works. I have a playlist called Cheer Me Up! In other words, you're not alone, far from it, but the good side of that is: there are lots of hacks you can use to roust yourself from it.

  5. These things definitely happen, even to the best of us. On the brighter side your rant has revealed that you ride, the mare looks lovely, and I for one am pleased to know that you are a fellow cavalière.
    Tomorrow you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

  6. Some days just "are"...take care. Tomorrow is a new day.
    ~ Tammy

  7. Tania, I have those days too. I can tell as soon as I get up and no amount of coffee, not even a croissant, would cheer me up. The day drags along and any interaction with another human becomes a minefield. Just someone looking at me in the street gets me annoyed. What.? Do I have green spots on my nose? Stupid cow!
    It's even worse in the car and I rant and swear at anyone in MY way. At some point though, I have to laugh. I realise that I am behaving like a loony. After that I can accept that it's just a crap day and it probably won't get any better but somehow I can smile about it. It's my own private joke and I decide that i am old enough to behave like a loony when I want to.

  8. Its Tuesday here and I do hope you feel better! that is a beautiful mare and a beautiful photograph.

  9. You know you're in trouble when The Pigeon finds another walking partner, LOL. This too will pass (hopefully sooner rather than later).


  10. What Erika said: so yes.

    And it may be serendipity that I was browsing this morning (as I so often do when I want a dose of commonsense and intelligence) a certain book, I had it open at "The only caveat about the perspective police is not to let them become trigger-happy, otherwise you may develop a full-blown case of First-World guilt which means that you never allow yourself to feel sad about anything..."

    When I feel grumpy, or teary, or No Use, it's hideous. I do know, in the furthest reaches, that I will come back to myself and it won't be so bad. Today, however, having put the phone down just now (halfway through this reply) to my poor mother, I am struggling with the fact that my beloved, intelligent, cheerful father, who is descending with terrifying rapidity into Alzheimer's (in whichever of its forms it turns out to be), and is uncharacteristically depressed, vicious and hallucinating, is unlikely ever to come back.

  11. Of course Guinness is health food, it makes you have gas at least in bigger quantities like beans!

  12. When I lived in Canada, this was about the time of year when "cabin fever" hit often with disastrous and violent results.
    I'm no longer snowbound or freezing my tail off, however, I can really still go "there" (and then think, if I can go there, well, hell, I could choose to go to some quiet beach in Hawaii...Not that I DO, of course! These thoughts usually don't come right on top of each other.)
    Hoping today, Tuesday, is "better", brighter.

  13. I really do feel angst, because the comments are so particularly delightful and kind, and I should say something to each and every one of you. As it is, the time continues to dash away from me with a smoothing iron. So all I can do is say a big, collective THANK YOU. :)

  14. As Churchill said...When you are going through hell...keep going.


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin