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:
Just look at that Pigeon face:
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: