Thursday, 26 April 2012

In which the thing I dread comes to pass

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Quite often, when I am pretending to be sage, I tell people that the thing they are dreading will turn out to be nothing like as drack as they thought. It’s the reverse expectation game. So many times one will go to a thing, the thought of which makes one’s heart plummet, and find it is rather lovely. Or the awful, put-off telephone call will go with a swing. Or the necessary confrontation will yield results instead of pointless shouting and strife.

I think about blogging quite a lot. The very novelty of the medium fascinates me. I watch it taking form, growing from a very niche, even slightly geek enterprise, into something which begins to touch the wider consciousness. I observe people approaching it in different ways, readers and writers both. I see the prejudices it engenders, and the elephant traps it presents. I watch it develop sub-sets, and off-shoots. I see it generate its own internal set of rules and mores, as if some collective consciousness is at work. No one sat down and invented the blog rules, and in some ways the first rule is that there is no rule. Yet it has already its conventions and politesses.

I was thinking how incredibly lucky I was that in over two years of blogging I have only ever had one very slightly snide comment. I wondered what would happen when the dark day came, as it must, when someone was angry or unkind. That was my dread. I realised that I have been cocooned by the generosity of the Dear Readers, and might be unprepared to deal with anything other than sweetness.

Well, the thing I dread has come to pass. It is not crossness or rudeness in any guise; but I have pushed a Dear Reader beyond the limit of her endurance. I woke early this morning, and, before going up to the mares, checked my email. That is where the comments are sent, and there, waiting for me, was the voice of exasperation:

‘Just wanted to let you know that I am so very, very pleased that your mare has made such a positive impact on your life and has quite clearly made you so happy, BUT - for the love of god woman - please write about something other than the horse!!!! I know that you do not want to pander to your readers, but by the same rule, do you wish to lose a great chunk of them? I have always relished clicking on to your blog - my daily treat if you will - so it is so disappointing to find that it has become so monotonous, and quite frankly, boring. ‘

There it was, the thing I had been dreading. I fret always, whatever I am writing about, that it will be of no interest, that it may be indulgent, dull, incoherent or shallow. I have a fatal tendency to obsession, so when I become entranced by a subject, whether it is American politics, or racing, or building a relationship with a new horse, or tracing the contours of family life, it is often all I can think about. I know women have a reputation for multi-tasking, but I tend to plunge deeply into one fascination at a time.

The worst criticisms are always the ones that you have suspected yourself. I had feared that I was turning into a one-trick pony. Aware of this, I had hoped that I could broaden out something very specific to me into a set of wider reflections, which might be of interest to a general reader. There are parables here, I had thought, small life lessons about patience and shifts in perspective and seeing the world through another’s eyes. But no, after all, it was just boredom and monotony. The awful thing was that I had gone from daily treat to ghastly, droning dreariness.

One of my deepest fears, apart from going mad in the night, is that I shall be dull. Anything, anything, but that. The words cut into me like sharpened swords. I felt my heart start to beat faster in shock. I felt physically shaky, and tearful. In some ways, I am not much cut out for public writing. However hard you try, there will always be people who hate what you write. I have not much hide to speak of, and take each criticism or rejection as a blow to the heart. I have developed a fairly good facility for talking myself down off the ceiling, but I have never managed to avoid the initial pain. And it is pain, as actual and felt as if someone landed a punch.

This pathetic fragility is enhanced, just at the moment, because of the year of grief. Loss has many interesting ramifications. It is not just simple sorrow. One of the things it does is strip away a layer of skin. People say this grows back, but it takes a long time. As a result, I have found that I have absolutely no defences; the smallest knock whacks me to the ground. Butch up, I tell myself. Where is that vaunted British stoicism that you admire so much? Where is your sense of perspective? For heaven’s sake, I tell myself; you are not five years old.

I dig and scratch, thinking there must be a life lesson here, too. Freedom of speech is one of my most cherished beliefs; everyone must say what they will, and think what they may. I sometimes think that as I get older the only thing I do know is that I know nothing. But one thing I have learnt is that, whatever you do, however hard you try, you cannot make people think what you want them to think. You have to, as the self-help groups like to say, let go with love.

There is also the thing of the bargain. In everything one does in life, there is a deal. By loving someone, you risk heartbreak; by holding any strong opinion, you risk dissent; by scratching a word on a page, you risk criticism or rejection or flat-out failure. That is life. One cannot sit in a darkened room, wrapped in cotton wool, cocooned against consequences.

I think of my playwright. He has his first big production coming on in the summer. Because I know him to be a man of soaring talent, I have no fear for him. But he must know that there is the danger that a dyspeptic critic will take against him, or a tired matinee audience may sit silent at the jokes. Does he flinch? Not he.

I think of the blithe, heedless people, the ones who laugh in the face of catcalls; the duck’s back people, who shrug off water. I think, as I so often do, I must learn from them. Although I do wonder sometimes if they really exist. I mean: are they really as impervious as they seem? Do they go back to their quiet rooms and admit to secret sorrows, when there is no one there to watch?

In my rational mind, I think, come along, this is part of the deal. In my irrational mind, I think: oh no, oh no, I bored a Dear Reader. The Perspective Police are off on another mission, and I am left, unmoored, covered in shame and melancholy. The thing I dreaded came to pass, and it was exactly as bad as I thought it would be.

For a moment, I thought: I cannot write today. I’ll just put up a picture and wait for the storm to pass. One thing I do know how to do is put ballast back in my boots. It takes a while, but it is always done. Then I thought: the thing that horses have taught me is that you have to get straight back on after a fall. Even if your confidence is shot to pieces, you have to take a deep breath and fake it until it is real. So, shaken and bruised, I get back in the saddle and trot on. And to the poor, Dear Reader, bored to sobs, I can only offer heartfelt apology.

 

The rain still rains, so the camera may not come out. Here is a blinky Pigeon, from the one moment yesterday when it was not bucketing down:

26 April 1 24-04-2012 15-32-03 3024x4032

And the hill remains lost in the cloud.

95 comments:

  1. Meh. I like reading about the horse, and horse-racing and the dog. I've no interest in any of these things generally, but that's not the point. Or rather, that's exactly the point, you make me see how these things can be interesting and that improves the world.

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  2. Your critical Dear Reader does come across a touch tetchy and impatient, but it is strange that you have been accused of letting down his/her expectations. People having expectations of others is always dangerous territory, especially if they are somehow not allowing anyone else to have expectations of them. My expectations of your Dear Readers is that they read what they enjoy in your blog and move along to something or someone else if they are not enraptured at that particular moment.

    Rather like at a party. Excuse yourself, go off to freshen a drink, or raid the buffet, or murmur must mingle but do NOT yawn straight in the face of an interlocutor who is enthusing about an enthusiasm.

    Bad FORM, other reader. Go and get your coat. It's on the bed in the room at the top of the stairs...

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    1. This is Goldenoldenlady, who commented above. Not ANON. Was the critical reader ANON, BTW? Double poor show, if so...

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    2. Dear Goldenoldenlady - no, she was not anon. Very polite and straightforward and open.

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  3. dellamirandola - what an incredibly kind thing to say. I always feel rather angsty after I have had a little wail; another danger of the blog is that I seem to say exactly what I feel at the exact moment I feel it. (One may spin this as authenticity; the stricter might call it rank self-indulgence.) So you offer a lovely dose of reassurance. Thank you.

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  4. Anon - the expectation thing is so interesting. I am still working out what is, or is not, to be expected. I feel very strongly that the Dear Readers must and should respond with honesty; there should be no editing of dissent. It is my job to butch up a bit. But you are so very kind and thoughtful; thank you.

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    1. Hi, it was my comment about expectation, Tania, but Blogger decided I should be veiled in secrecy for reasons best known to itself. Hope you are feeling more chipper now you have offloaded. If you'd like a good chuckle with your late morning coffee to add to the cheering-up process, try a few of these "texts from my dog";

      http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/text-from-dog-is-the-best-tumblr-about-text-messag?ref=13things

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    2. Goldenoldenlady - texts from dog are very, very funny. Lovely link; thank you.

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  5. Well for a start, one negative comment in all this time is pretty good going! After all, you can't please all people, and all that.

    I can't even remember now how I first came to your blog, or what those first few posts were about that quickly made it such an enjoyable and worthwhile few minutes of my day. Since then I've looked forward to your racing posts even though I'd never even *watched* racing before; I've been moved to tears on more than one occasion; and (dare I say it) I've even felt my outlook on life change ever so slightly for the better thanks to your consistently honest, appreciative and outward-looking words.

    So I say, in the words of that bloody poster that's everywhere: 'Keep Calm And Carry On' (please!). Horse posts and all. Red is a new member of the family and as such needs a fitting period of introduction, which as a non-rider I've been enjoying.

    (It was probably an animal post that first got me - I arrived at your blog with a little black cat and picked up a not-so-little black dog along the way, as I felt I had to tell you at the time, so I'm always a big sucker for the animal posts.)

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    1. Hannah - What an incredibly lovely comment. Since my own perspective police seem to be having a day off, you have brilliantly stepped into the breach. Love the thought of the little black cat and little black dog; they sound like the most heavenly pair.

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  6. To paraphrase a quote (made either by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln OR circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum): You can PLEASE some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not PLEASE all of the people all of the time.

    I could go on about being creative, putting "it" out there, the "to thine own self be true", etc. I won't. (Look at the photo of Pigeon. She seems to be "saying": "Chill.")
    It is YOUR blog, after all!
    XX

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    1. Pat - actually, you have put your finger on it. One of my worst desires is to please all of the people, even though logically I know that is impossible. It's the gap between the reasonable mind, and the magical thinking which one can never quite get rid of. And love the idea of Pigeon saying chill. :)

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  7. Now I'm going to be honest and I really REALLY don't want this to tip you over any metaphorical edge, but I don't read your blog everyday. I love your blog but I don't read every post (though not because of the horse - I loved reading about the horse, because of it's poignancy and the happiness it brings you). It's something I enjoy regularly but not my daily treat; that is several good cups of tea. And you know what, if my favourite tea bag brand knocked out a batch I didn't like I suppose I would complain too. But the difference is you are not a brand, a company, something people pay money to consume in an expected form. You are a woman who writes (wonderfully) and shares wisdom, thoughts, life events and perspective with others. This is the best a blogger can be in my opinion. I suppose my point is gather some new perspective and energy (because you will some time later get a shot of energy from this experience, trust me) as a result of this but don't let it dictate your content.

    I gave up expecting my loyal (and Dear) readers to read every blog offering I publish. Or maybe I have never expected it as a travel blogger. I'm well aware there's only so many "sunset on a beach" photos my readers slogging away in an office want to see. But like you, they mean the world to me, and it truly hurts me the idea that I can't please all of them all the time, but you really just can't. I hope you can let go with love :-D

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    1. Frankie Bird - what incredibly wise words. Not tipping over edge at all, but pulling back from. And so glad I am not the only one who has this mad desire to keep all the Dear Readers happy all the time. Even though of course I know that to be quite impossible.

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  8. Quite frankly, I don't mind what you write about....I am just VERY HAPPY that you write at all!!

    You paint a picture, you draw me in, you make me nod my head in agreement - and, as I know I've told you before, you've made me both laugh out loud and cry. And your photos most days make me want to become a dog owner AND move to Scotland....and you know I love London as I know you once did ;)

    As with any good writer....it's not always what they write about, it's the way they write it. I've been reading your work for years, way before I discovered your blog, and I am a huge fan.

    I don't always comment here but I always read. I don't believe in negative comments and wouldn't DREAM of advising what they should - or shouldn't - be writing about.

    Love to you and beautiful Pigeon Tania XX

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    1. Simone - what a very kind and lovely thing to say. Esp from someone whose own blog I admire so much. Thank you. :)

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  9. Oh my...I sit here (in final days with company - the husband returns to work next week). I say 'oh no' out loud to the screen, I then say it again as I read your post. He says (exasperated): '...what? what?' as if I am reading the news and something dreadful has happened. Tears prick my eyes as I simply can't bear, right now, that anything should upset you. The dreaded thorny comment - we all fear it. We all fear the judgement and the failure...the idea that anyone is not delighted with what we share. For all of the musing on what blogging is and means to society - it is, if nothing else, someone's heart on a page. Well, a screen, but you get my point.

    For me - horses are not my thing. I know nothing about them. Have ridden one once when my sister in law insisted that we learned to joust for her hen weekend (don't ask). But reading what you write has been an education to me. I will never get bored. You are on a journey Tania and the mare is your (literal and metaphorical) transport. Please, please, please I implore you, do not be disheartened. We can not be everyone's cup of tea. The best you can take from it is that you reached the majority of us 'Dear Readers' and not all. That's not a bad innings is it?

    South to North love to you... Lou x

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  10. Lou - oh, you are always so lovely. Thing I almost enjoy hearing more than anything is the often slightly baffled reaction of the Husband. Makes me laugh. And cup of tea thing so wise. Sending north south love right back to you. :)

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  11. Yes! That's how it feels - EXACTLY how it feels!(And THAT'S why we all come here - because you articulate the things that the rest of us only feel inside)...the shakiness..the tearyness...the stomachache - all over some small, stupid remark that never had much thought behind it to begin with. I feel it all too often, then I hate myself for being so thin-skinned - which adds self-loathing to the misery. Although I DO feel sorry for you, it's strangely heartening that someone so unarguably talented feels this way too. In fact it suggests that there aren't any water-off-the-back types - not really. They're just better at pretending. I have no interest in horses or dogs or soup or even politics but I've been drawn here every day for years - and have occasionally found myself reading with tears pouring down my face. Your choice of subject is irrelevant. I come for the beautiful, beautiful writing. Also the honesty, wit, whimsy and Nancy-Mitford-type stylishness. So...erm what's the news from the horse today?

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    1. Anon - ah, now that is a really cleverly lovely thing to say. Some brilliant person, can't now remember who, said: we write to know we are not alone. As I try to work out what a blog is actually for, I wonder if it is not that. So when someone identifies with a thought or feeling one has had, that is almost the best feeling of all. Better than admiration for prose, even. You could not have chosen a more touching compliment. Thank you. (And it does make me feel better for being so silly over something so little, which is one of my besetting weaknesses.)

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  12. Hi Tania, a long time reader here (though first time I've commented). Everyone is of course entitled to their own opinions, but I couldn't disagree more with the commenter from yesterday - please don't consider it representative of what all your readers think!

    Personally I know nothing whatsoever about horses, but have loved finding out more, and have found your descriptions of the connection between horse and rider very interesting. The relationship you have with Red is clearly one of great tenderness, and it's touching and engaging when you write about her.

    More importantly though, this is your blog, not ours (however attached we may all feel). Even if I didn't like the horse stories, I wouldn't feel it was my place to tell you that I thought they were boring. So please continue as you were, and don't let it worry you.

    By the way, on a completely separate point, my family's dog (a lab collie cross) very recently passed away, aged around 13 and a half or so. She was one of a lot of sisters in a litter, and it recently occurred to me that there is an (admittedly small) chance that she might be related to your lovely two dogs, being of the right breed and around about the right age. She didn't always manage to look *quite* as elegant as the Pigeon, but she was a very lovely dog all the same. (picture here )

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    1. Charlie - what an incredibly delightful first comment. Please comment more. Oh, my heart feels for you and your girl. I still miss my duchess sorely, and it is almost a year on. And what a lovely, dear face. Thank you for the picture. (Bet they are related; exact same age and same cross.)

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  13. Your description of how criticism feels is exactly why I come to this blog every day-- you have a way of articulating human moments that goes directly to the heart of something I have also felt and makes me feel less alone or inadequate. As a Reader said above, to know that somebody talented like you (and published!) feels criticism in an agonizingly keen way, and will write about it, is heartening.

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    1. Ellie - how clever you are. Always after a bit of a wail, or an admission of weakness, I think: oh, no, surely should have put on brave face and made a joke and done a little tap dance. So when a Dear Reader responds as you have it is vastly cheering. Thank you. (Although I do think I must must must work on my pathetically thin skin. Perhaps it may toughen with age.)

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  14. This made me feel so sad. Hope you are feeling better. The thing about blogs is that they're such a mix of outward-reaching writing and inward-reaching thinking. My favourite blogs are intensely personal but the flipside of this is that it feels a bit like giving someone your diary to read. You must write about your lovely horse and dogs if that's what's on your mind, as you've said yourself before, the only good writing comes from the heart.

    Please don't stop all the horse chat, I'd like to know more of the little details (do horses just eat grass or do you have to feed them? Can you ride any horse or do they have to be trained? Could you ride the little pony? I am totally clueless as you can see...)

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    1. Kathryn - such a kind and lovely comment. Rather delighted you have horse questions. I shall do them in Sunday's reader questions, specially for you. (Despite the risk of equine overload.)

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  15. Please don't listen to commenters who seem to be trying to tell you what you should be writing about. Inevitably all they're telling you is what they want to read about.

    I don't always read every post of yours (sometimes i only have a few minutes, so if it looks like a very long post, I skip over it and go straight to the pictures of the dog and the hill), but I do like the horse stuff. I've been speaking to someone about equine therapy recently, so it's interesting to read some of the posts about your interactions with the Red Mare.

    Anyway. my point is this. Blog to please yourself. write about the things that *you* want to write about. Readers will either engage with it, or they won't. And either of those is fine, because you've written what pleased you, so it matters less that some people might not enjoy it.

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    1. Calalalala - what a great screen name. Thank you for your very wise comment. So interesting about equine therapy; there is a place up the road that does it for returning soldiers. It is quite humbling, what they achieve there.

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  16. There's a big difference between writing about something that someone is not interested in (in which someone is not interested, grammar, as Molesworth would sa), and being boring. You have written a lot about Red lately, but she's new and exciting, so it's natural. You may feel compelled to write, no-one is compelled to read. Bugger 'em.
    Mind you, I'm missing regular updates on the Pigeon - I know you're not neglecting her, but I want to know how she's getting on. Do write a long, boring, self-indulgent entry about the dog, please.

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    1. Deborah - thank you so much for such a kind comment. Always very happy to see Molesworth reference. And yes, yes, there SHALL be Pigeon.

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  17. I just discovered your blog in the last few weeks and I’ve spent waaay too much time reading back in your wonderfully thought-provoking posts. As a gal of almost eighty decades, my first reaction to your less than gracious critic was to want to give her a hefty smack. You really shouldn’t take her words to heart or be upset by them. Perhaps, to be charitable, it was her time of the month, but if she doesn’t like to read about the newest member of your Cast of Characters, tant pis – she can just move on quietly. There are millions of other blogs out there. Your mission is not to please a reader, but to please yourself. The pleasure of your readers will follow naturally. This is the philosophy I’ve had to develop for my own blog, Latelife Musings.

    As to your blogs about Red the Mare – keep on keepin’ on. Those of us who know horses are delighted with further insight into their many moods. Those of us who don’t know horses are learning something new and interesting. And all those of us who have found your blog among those millions consider ourselves very lucky.

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    1. Laura Lee - so lovely to have a new reader; welcome. Especially one from America, as I see you are. (I get very excited about visitors from far away.) I think blogging is such a fine dance; I would hate the Dear Readers not to say what they feel, but it is such an oddly intimate medium that it does leave one rather vulnerable to slights. Thank you for your kind words, and I hope you keep coming back.

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  18. You wrote something, someone didn't like it - too bad. You didn't set out to upset them. Nor did you promise they would enjoy every word you write. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.

    What annoys me as much as anything about the Grumpy Reader's complaint is the assumption that, just because they have had enough of the horse story, many others will have too. So, unwarranted assumption and unrealistic expectation in one rather self-centred package. Not worth taking to heart, surely?

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    1. Jerry P - most excellent and bracing comment; thank you. You are quite right: my fatal weakness is to take everything much too much to heart. And I do always want the Dear Readers to say what they will, so in a way it is up to me to get a bit butcher and take things more on the chin.

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  19. I'm so sorry to hear about the thoughtless comments that hurt you. It's a weakness of human nature that we all share to be so much more deeply affected by a negative response than all the positive. In case the perspective police are still awol - first time commentator and she chooses to complain. Set that against your hundreds of readers who follow you with affection and admiration. Like many others, my experience of and interest in horses is limited but I really enjoy reading about you and Red. It seems to me that there are many universal emotions and experiences that come up and touch your readers. That's what writing is all about surely? you don't have to be interested in a subject to enjoy reading about it. You learn, relate, expand your own mind. Please don't let the wobble put you off. We read you because you are open and direct about things and it means something to us. xxx

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    1. Jane - you are so right. I've been wondering about that - how one so often hears one negative and it wipes out all positive. I think that happens when one is in a state of slight vulnerability. But your VERY positive kindness is most cheering; thank you.

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  20. I just found your blog and if weren't for the fact we're having 94 degrees in Kansas already and I'm hoisting water hoses around the garden, I'd make a cup of tea and read your blog like a lovely new novel. I enjoyed your muse on the eruption of the blog world. I came to it quite late. I'm afraid it's already moving on to twitting and pinning, things that reward little thought and a minimum of words.

    I truly believe that every day is all we have and what needs our attention most that day is what we must do. So back to your horse—or whatever renews you—and come back and tell us about i.

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  21. Home before Dark - Welcome. Amazing to think of a visitor all the way from Kansas. Thought of 94 degrees quite faint-making. We have driving rain and 6 degrees centigrade. I love the idea that every day is all we have. Thank you.

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  22. I think people sometimes forget that a blog is a personal thing. You're not being paid to write it. Yours is one of a handful of blogs I read every day and I dont expect anything from it, I just like it for what it is. Actually, I was really thrilled that Red has a new pal. You could tell he was smiling.

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    1. Deb - it is always so lovely to think of the daily readers. And I think you are right: it was the equine version of a smile.

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  23. Your blog is lovely, especially your enthusiasm for the things you love. You don't owe any of us anything! We're here because we love what you write. Honestly, if this person doesn't like it, the simple thing to do would be for that person not to read it. How easy is that? So easy!

    Follow your joy, always. And certainly don't try to please people who will tell you not to follow your joy. I adore reading about Red. I'm pretty horse illiterate so I learn things every day--I had not the slightest idea what was involved in getting to know a new horse and I'm really enjoying learning.

    But you know, I come here for the vast and articulate love you have for the animals and land and people around you. We all need more of that, not less!

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    1. Author, author - what a delightful thing to say. Love the idea of following your joy. Thank you.

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  24. As the very wise Simone said, I'm just glad you write at all! - I actually feel *privileged* to have this wonderful blog of yours to read, and to be part of a little community of regular readers who love it. Keep on keeping on.
    My son is currently trying to backflip out of his bouncy chair so I fear I must go quickly, but I go with love, straight from us here in the Calder Valley to you in the wilds of Scotland.
    Anne.x

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    1. Anne - always so very lovely to hear from you. The thought of the small fella doing backflips is making me smile A LOT. :) :)

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  25. I recently found your blog, and added it to my Favorites Bar for daily reading--because--you post so beautifully about your mare.

    You can't please everyone, so please continue writing as skillfully as you do, and please yourself.

    The old axiom "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything" might be appropo here.

    Yours is a thoroughly enjoyable blog, carry on :-)
    Jan in Illinois/USA

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    1. Jan - I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a reader called Ladyfarrier. (You may have gathered that I am in awe of farriers.) And thank you for your lovely and kind comment.

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  26. I have been working undercover for the Perspective Police; my recent report has found that :
    a) the critical commenter called you "Dearest Tania", which surely they would not do if their intention was to wound you?
    b) they suggest that there are other subjects which you could write about with great skill, which again does not suggest malicious intent.
    Please, please, don't take this criticism to heart - there are certainly some folk who are not as fascinated by horses as your good self, but, as others have suggested, they do not have to continue reading. Also, as others have said, it is amazing that you have come this far unscathed by negative comments!

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    1. Jennifer J - you are a brilliant PP recruit. Completely agree that intention was not to wound at all; in a sense that made it more devastating. A kind reader BORED. But you are right, the perspective is sorely needed and thank you for giving it. :)

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  27. As so many others have said previously you cannot nor should you try to please us readers. This is your blog and your thoughts and experiences.

    I look forward to reading your blog everyday and sit down with a cuppa to enjoy it; the writing is often thought provoking and always, I feel, from the heart. I often learn something new and I simply love the pictures.

    Don't think for one single minute about changing it and try not take the reader's comments to heart. There are lots of us who get much pleasure fromyour beautifully written musings.

    Jules (from the less far afield North Wales)x

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    1. Jules - particularly pleased to have a Dear Reader from North Wales; I used to drive through Snowdonia in my twenties and remember well its soaring beauty. (Of course, since the pony, am even more in love with all things Welsh.) And thank you for your lovely comment.

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  28. Dear Tania and your wider readers,

    It is I - Deborah - the dreaded reader that made the comment that lead to this entry ( sounds like the old lady that swallowed the fly, and I suspect some of the other commenters rather wish I would "die"!).

    Tania I want to heartily apologise for hurting you in any way. It was not my intention to do so, and I am mortified that you felt physical pain, so - really, I am truly sorry for that, and hope you recover swiftly.

    However, I stand by the sentiment of my comments. Many readers have assumed that my comments were mean spirited, served with a side dish of disdain - they most certainly were not. You, Tania, managed to hit the nail right on the head - my comments were borne from my exasperation. I adore the way you write, I adore your views on so many different subjects, I love your intelligent take on what is happening on the world around us, and I am frustrated that you seem to be currently stuck on one subject (for the record, I love horses, and I had one of my own until I was 19). I just wanted to remind you that there is a whole wide world of possibilities for you to take on, and that readers like me are just dying to see what the "Tania" interpretation is! Clearly my point was not well made, but I hope that this has added some clarity to it.

    Just before I go, I would also like to clear a couple of things up that the other readers have assumed about me personally ( surely you all know the old saying - to assume makes an ass etc) .... I am not impatient or tetchy, I am not mean, I am not rude, I am not self centred and it is not "my time of the month" (how revoltingly condescending - shame on you). I am merely an ordinary woman - a suburban mother, proudly caring for a severely disabled child, full time at home. This blog really is "my daily treat" as your beautiful pictures and writing could not be more different than the world that I live in Tania - I relish the escape and the stimulation your entries provide.

    I will continue to read, and I wish you all the very best of luck finishing your new book.

    Deborah

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    1. Deborah - thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.I remain intensely sorry that the daily treat has become a disappointment. (And it is such a kind compliment that you should regard it as a treat.) I am in a crazed work situation just now, which means my world has shrunk. I have no time or mental energy for anything beyond trying to finish this book, and doing the horses. The usual outside interests are on hold, which is why I'm afraid I have no good thoughts on them. The one diversion I am allowed is a bit of racing, and I realise I can't bang on about that too much. Otherwise it is all book, all the time. So when I sit down to write this, usually in the evening, the brain is so wrecked that all I can write of is what is right in front of my nose. Which I'm afraid is all matters equine, just now. The deadline comes in June, after which I shall regain time and mental faculty. In the meantime, I can only say sorry and beg your indulgence. :)

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  29. Gosh, can see it's been a bit of a day. Agree with Jennifer and don't think there was any intention to upset you by the commenter but, as has been said by many already, it's your blog, we're not paying and it's your honest and beautiful writing that draws us back, so you must write about whatever is foremost in your mind. Currently it is Red and her diminutive white soon-to-be-named chum. And that is more than fine.

    I'm not a horse person either (Lou's sister-in-law would have received short shrift if she'd suggested learning to joust to me. Am agog with shock at the very thought!) but it has been fascinating to discover that a) there's a hell of a lot more to riding a horse than I had thought or understood b) horses don't mind being outside in the rain and cold and c) they like company.

    Don't in any way edit yourself, Tania. You know better than to do that anyway. As one who veers to being sensitive myself (especially at the moment) I'd say you know that it may be good to be a bit tougher. Now just how does one do that!

    x

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    1. Elaine - such a kind comment; thank you. I do wish I could find the magic way to toughen up. It has never been my strong suit, and then I did get a bit bashed up this last year, what with one thing and another. (Ashamed to say I still weep sudden tears for my old Duchess.) But it is my devout resolution. :)

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  30. Hello Tania,

    I read various blogs with interest - a peek into people's lives is completely fascinating - but have never commented. This is my first and I just wanted to say that I too click on your blog every day and love to read about dog and horse affairs - although the nearest I have come to the latter is the occasional holiday pony trek and as an avid reader of the "Jill" pony club books. I agree that if someone writes well about their interests and passions, that spirit is tramsmitted to the reader. I am looking forward to many more tales of your animals.

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    1. Anon - what a lovely first comment. Thank you. Oh, I did love those Jill books; I remember them very well indeed. :)

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  31. Tania, the pictures you posted yesterday of Red and his new albino friend are, in my mind, MOST wonderfully TENDER!!!

    I for one can't wait to read and see more of those two girls in the field and their small black equine friend with a taste for biscuits...

    I love how you relate to other animals and how you think outside the box. For me, you are a sure thing.

    Please keep being your funny, clever, most frank and generous self: it's a priviledge to read you.

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  32. Although I adore reading your horse stuff, I also adore reading all of your other topics too, so I don't think this comment is borne of my interest in horses.

    When you write about Red, it is never just about a horse. It is about the communication and love that is growing between you. It would be equally interesting and important if you wrote this sort of thing about your small people or a dog (you do, LOL, about the Pigeon and we all love it), a cat, a sheep, a pig, a cow or a bird. Or any other living creature. You open a window on Life with a capital L. To miss all of that -- to think it is only about a horse -- is to miss how incandescent your writing can be.

    Bird

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    1. Bird - such a lovely comment and very reassuring and cheering. Thank you.

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  33. I am just hooked on this blog. I see 350 odd followers up there. Perhaps she was having a bad day and will apologize tomorrow. Otherwise, the hell with her. Just some advice my dad would have given you.

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    1. Joanne - so touched you are hoooked on the blog. But do think all Dear Readers must have their say. Probably my job to toughen up my skin. But I like the sound of your dad very much.

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  34. oh my goodness, please, please pay that woman no mind! I stumbled on your blog yesterday and was so moved by the story of your horse, the pony and your obvious love and passion for the animals. Truely, I was pulled in with your story, and understanding of how animals think, feel and act. I could not wait to have a cup of tea this afternoon and read more of your past posts with hopes of hearing more of your experiences and insights into the animal mind! Not to mention your photos are amazing! Please do what you do and do not waste another thought on the woman who wrote that. I only just found you, I would be so sad to see your blog change.Thanks for making my day!

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    1. Anon - Welcome to the blog. So very pleased and touched you are enjoying it; thank you.

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  35. This is such an interesting one to react to. I will come clean: I appreciate the visual beauty of horses, just as I do anything of glorious line and character. However, I know little or nothing about them and have no real interest - that is, I will generally choose to read something else if given the choice between horse and not-horse. Occasionally, just occasionally, I have simply thought what Deborah has actually said: oh, dear, I'd like a post about the dog, or the glorious Scottish landscape, or what Tania thinks of x situation. The presence of Red would never drive me away from checking into the blog; I simply enjoy reading of the Pigeon more.

    Having said that, I still read these posts, whether horse or not-horse: as Bird says 'it is about the communication and love that is growing between you... you open a window on Life with a capital L'. Amen to that.

    Whatever you do, Tania, is for yourself first and foremost; that is what, in the end, makes your writing true for us. As soon as you begin writing to please the rest of us, the integrity - which is to me the diamond of your skill - will suffer.

    And I hope Deborah doesn't feel too bad; if your writing wasn't of importance to her, she wouldn't have troubled to make the comment in the first place.

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    1. Cassie - such a thoughtful comment. The trouble is my world is very small just at the moment, because of my deadline. It is just work and the animals; no time or mental space or energy for thinking other thoughts. So, the focus of the blog shrinks with it, and reflects my current state. I do apologise for that. It shall widen again once the deadline passes.

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  36. As one who would love to be one of the ducks that water flows off, I do understand how a slight (no matter how polite) can hurt.
    I have to admit my initial response was a bit 'how DARE she' yet you responded with such grace. As you know, I love your writing; I love reading about your life all the way over the other side of the world. So, please just keep doing what you do. And know that you bring a lot of pleasure to my day and all the other Dear Readers. xx

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    1. Em - such a lovely comment. You are always so kind; thank you.

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  37. Tania, by far not your job the entertain us, besides, if it becomes a horse blog, horse lovers will join and enjoy your writing. I do not know where I would go, as yours is still my favorite, as your books used to be decades back. I am so eager to see the new one.
    By the way, have you ever thought of guest bloggers, it would be most fun just to see the crowd you would invite to your table.
    Keep up, for us or the horses, M.

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  38. Your blog is never boring - you write with an artistic temperament (sorry for the cliche but can't think of another way to express it). You write about about what you feel and what interests you, without the "I ought..." of the more mundane conventional soul. That's what makes your blog so original.

    I don't know much about horses but it's been fascinating to read about your relationship with Red, and you describe it so well.

    I'm glad Red has a companion. It's odd to think how their relationship is something we (humans) could never fathom .

    Keep on writing as you do!

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    1. Vivien - what a lovely comment; thank you so much.

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  39. Courage. One of the reasons I read your blog is for the inspiration your courage gives me. You care what everyone thinks, yet you put yourself out in front of them daily. You lost your beloved dog yet you had the courage to risk your heart and give Red a wonderful home. A Dear Reader shared an opinion which hurt and you chose to share your angst about it instead of hiding under the covers. WOW. Thank you.

    Keira/Pennsylvania, USA

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    1. Keira - it is always so exciting to hear from my American readers. Not sure why, but the thought of someone reading so far away gives me a real thrill. And thank you so much for your very kind and touching words.

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  40. Tania, LOL, there is one thing you must thank Deborah for. You have survived your first real complaint. Rather like the first scratch on an otherwise pristine paint job, right? And it sure stirred up the Dear Readers! I've seen lots of comments here, but never this bumper crop. So now you've faced it and it ain't so bad. Milestone . . .

    Bird

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    1. Bird - am amazed by the amount of comments.

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  41. I just want to say - except that Simone said it all exactly as I was thinking of saying it! - that I love the blog just as it is, as an old friend, who you still love when they go on a bit, because that's who they are. But to me, not ever having had a horse, I am ENTRANCED by the horse stories and they really have become my daily treat!

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    1. Lucia - entranced is such a lovely word and thank you so much for using it.

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  42. So cross to read about this thoughtless and uncharitable reader. I love reading about Red. The closest I have ever come to horses is looking at them, reading Dick Francis and putting bets on the Melbourne Cup. From your posts I have learnt a lot abot the magic of horses. DON'T STOP!

    And I may say that Eleanor Roosevelt is a great comfort at times like this: no one can make you feel inferior (wounded, sad, hurt etc)without your consent. Please withdraw your consent. We all love your blog.

    Sue Rosly

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    1. Sue - I don't think thoughtless, just exasperated. Love the Eleanor Roosevelt quote; thank you so much.

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  43. I love your blog and hope it doesn't change in any way. If you start to query what your readers want, to second guess them, it will take away that remarkable heartfelt quality which is what draws us back every day.

    But for what it's worth I think this controversy is as much to do with the politics of blogs and comments as it is to do with your writing.

    I think you should take heart from the extraordinary outpouring of support you have received too. Don't change! Rachel

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    1. Rachel - what a very lovely thing to say; thank you.

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  44. Tania, I have read your blog for quite a while, and have always loved it. I am not a horse person (my sister was the girl who went mad for horses), but have loved the stories about Red. I love that she has a companion... I have tried to blog, but quite frankly, it fizzled out a little bit... I wish I could write as beautifully as you. I missed hearing about Red this morning, about Pigeon and her stick.... Its my morning ritual with my cup of coffee.... And I want to thank you for writing such a wonderful blog which gives me such enjoyment...

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    1. CatherineMarie - that is such a very kind and generous comment; thank you so much.

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  45. I do not believe any of your readers is entitled to have you write what they want. It may have been a well-intentioned and politely put comment, but it comes across to me as ridiculously entitled. I once had someone flounce at me on LiveJournal because of one blog post, and write an essay publically on her own blog cricitising things she found unacceptable about this. She didn't name me in it, and her language was not impolite, but to this day I am bewildered at her expectation that I should write what she wanted rather than what I did.

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    1. Pavlov's Cat - I do think this is all part of the newness of blogging, and everyone working out what works and what does not. It certainly has stirred up a debate, which is always one of the things I said I wanted. (Although I wonder now whether I prefer a quieter life!)

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  46. "Just because someone says it...doesn't make it so." Germaine Greer

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    1. Jacqueline - that is perfect. Thank you.

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  47. I would like to bring your attention to the fact that the comment you mentioned was not actually cruel or taunting or harassing... they just expressed an honest opinion that hurt your feelings.

    I know several bloggers who have been beset by actually cruel and vicious commenters, who left comments intended to belittle, demean, and harass them. Their inboxes were spammed by these "trolls", as the internet community calls them, and some of them shut their blogs down as a result.

    Not that I'm taking away from your hurt feelings, but I just wanted you to realize that there are much, much worse things that could have happened. I think the person who made that criticism is just not much of a horse person, and wanted to let you know they preferred your previous style of blogging.

    Buck up, weigh the positives against the negatives, and at the end of it all just bellow "I'M THE KING OF ENGLAND!"

    Wait, no - that was a quote from "The Tudors". I meant, bellow "IT'S MY GADAM BLOG!"

    And then continue doing whatever it is you want to do. Because it is. Your blog.

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    1. Marcheline - did not think it cruel for a moment. Oddly enough, I think I could deal with trolls, who are just cross strangers. There is a level of randomness to that which makes it meaningless. It is the real, regular readers about whom I care. Thank you so much for your comment.

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  48. One more thing:

    If you do ever get a seriously nasty or harrassing comment, DO NOT BLOG ABOUT IT. That's the cardinal rule with trolls. Pretend they don't exist, do not reply to them or let anyone else know they've said anything. Dogs don't chase parked cars. Trolls will only stick around where they get the attention they crave.

    Ta!

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  49. I read your blog- not to be entertained-but to find ideas and perspectives that make me react ( as in AH- how beautiful...or "I never thought of....) and encourage me to think. All of my favorite writers are creative spirits who have been criticized and knocked around...just think about any of them....and you will find stupid comments by stupid people. All of my favorite artists, directors, actors and musicians- have been thoroughly dragged through the mud at one time or another. So- you are in good company!! Keep writing...don't change for a ridiculous person's opinion. Your blog is wonderful!!
    love from TEXAS-

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  50. I must confess that I saw the blogpost title and a picture of Pigeon and panicked. Glad she is, in fact, all right.

    As others have said, you cannot please everyone all of the time and one negative comment should not outweigh all of the positive ones. Keep on keeping on.

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  51. I absolutely disagree that if you get a really harrassing comment you should keep quiet about it. This stuff fails to go away because nothing happens to stop the perpetrators.

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  52. @PavlovsCat - I didn't mean one shouldn't report it to the owners of the website. If there is someone who can actually ban the troll from using the site and put an end to their abuse, obviously that should be done.

    Usually, however, the site moderators are not able to stop trolls from coming back. With the advent of gmail and hotmail and all the other free email servers, trolls can just keep going back and signing up with different user names, thus getting around any bans by website owners.

    What I was actually referring to in my original comment was publicly reacting to the troll on one's blog, advertising what they said, moaning about how awful it is... which does nothing but feed the troll's need for attention.

    Individually speaking, the blogger's best weapons against trolls are a)comment moderation, b) word verification, and c) the delete button.

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  53. Only just finding this. Gad! I never will understand the need to burst someone else's balloon. Sorry, but this poor soul must be easily bored. Or she reads blogs for the wrong reasons. Or she has no patience. How would you like to be a member of her family and have a genuine problem you want to discuss and have her become bored with you before you've worked it all out. I'm so very glad I do not have to be reasonable about this, though I believe it IS reasonable to declare that your Saga of the Red Mare has been more than instructive, even to a non-horsey person. Fiddle-dee-dee, I say to Miss Bored, and continue being your lovely self.

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