Posted by Tania Kindersley.
In the end, my body has cleverly taken over. I feel revoltingly ill. Everyone has their pain, don’t they? I never get headaches, for example. When my body is all packed up and tired and cross and worn out, I get a bashing ache all over my back, from stern to tip. I always describe it as if a very grumpy Shetland pony has kicked me all over. It’s the physical version of saying: stop.
The good thing about this is that I have to stop. No choice in the matter. I can’t really think about anything else, but lie like an old lady on the sofa, with the Pigeon slumbering under a blanket. Outside, the rain falls. I have a couple of disastrous bets which makes me think of dad. Definitely channelling his Saturday afternoon catastrophes.
I think of him. I think: a year ago today a flawed, funny man died. What was he else? Not like anyone else you ever met. So other really, that ordinary words aren’t much good for him. He was a bit wild, unconsciously unconventional, brave, generous, and oddly unworldly. He didn’t really understand about rules and divisions and social mores. Because of this, people put up with his sometimes slightly eccentric behaviour with smiles. He could light a room. All he wanted was a joke, a horse to ride, a woman to flirt with and a drink to drink. I sometimes wished for a more regular family life, but in the end, looking back, I think I probably got lucky. I get the different drummer, which is worth quite a lot of tea in China.
As I finished writing this, I went next door to watch the Scottish Grand National. There were a lot of hotly fancied horses running in it, some young stars from Cheltenham, some big money. An old Scottish fella called Merigo was trying to win it for the second time. He won two years ago, to tears and cheers in the winning enclosure, managed a gallant second last year, has done bugger all this year. He has a big old white face, and a huge great pair of quarters. He is eleven, which is getting on. I could not have a penny on him.
As my fancy pulled up before the fourth last, I suddenly saw the old white face cantering along on the outside. Other, younger legs were passing him, but he would not give up. He pulled into the lead, put in a couple of glorious leaps. Oh come on, Merigo, do it for Scotland, I shouted.
After four miles, his legs were tired. Pace goes, as they get older. A bright, dark bay horse went streaming past him, full of running. But Merigo loves Ayr; he runs better here than anywhere else. This is his race. He picked up, put his auld head down, and went for the line, refusing to be denied. He won by a short head. I shouted as if I had the house on him. I shouted for love. I love the old campaigners, the ones who aren't perhaps naturally brilliant, the ones who win on grit and heart and guts and sheer damn determination.
That feels like my rule for life today.
Only one picture today: