Monday, 16 April 2012

What was it I was supposed to be doing, again?

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Having one of those days when I can’t remember what the blog is for. This happens about once every three months, and I have a little wail about it, and the Dear Readers are usually very, very kind, and then everything resets itself and back I go to normal.

I mean, I have hurled horse stuff at you for the last month and you have very patiently put up with it, and now, for five minutes, I have put my head above the parapet and remembered there is a wider world, and I think: am I supposed to write about that?

I used to love doing big political posts, although I noticed that quite often they were the ones that got the least reaction. It seems that even non-horse people can identify with the love of a sentient creature, especially one as beautiful as Red the Mare, but perhaps some may draw the line at my love of politics.

I always tell my students, in my summer workshop, that you must not, under any circumstances, think of the reader when you are writing. The danger is that you start pandering, or trying to second-guess the public taste, and then your writing falters and becomes phoney and stilted. You must write out of your own true self, or you should go and do something with sheep. (Personally, at the moment, I rather dream of sheep.)

But the blog is a fascinating new medium, and I find it a place of curious politeness. This is not a papery book which has been carefully chosen after selective browsing in actual shelves. It is a fleeting, ephemeral thing, which people may stumble upon, or visit late at night when they are tired, or use for diversion after a shitty day.

I think it may be a medium where one should be keenly aware of the readers. It’s why I apologise for long posts, because long form on a screen is taxing for the eyes in the way it is not on paper. (I read somewhere that the brain actually processes words on a page quite differently than it does words on a screen. I notice this keenly when proof-reading a manuscript.)

There are a lot of fine lines to be walked. I think it is not a bad thing to talk about one’s own life, but arrant solipsism is just bad manners. Care should be taken not to bang on, too much. Galloping about on hobby horses can be tiring, for everyone. I prefer to avoid ranting, except when I absolutely cannot avoid it.

There is a slight British thing that one should not speak too much about oneself. It is considered bad form to meet someone for the first time and tell them the story of one’s life. The delicate dance of conversation consists often of making tentative steps onto the parquet of mutual interest. (Strained metaphor alert; there goes the klaxon.) Sometimes I suddenly think: oh, really, my horse, my dog, my week at Cheltenham, my family. Do you really need to know?

And then, as I am thinking all this, I sit down and bash this out, quite fast, because it is almost half-past seven and I must have my supper, and it ends up being about almost nothing at all. And I rely again on your great patience, until I remember what it is I am supposed to be doing.


At least I can give you some pretty pictures.

Garden, this evening:

16 April 1 16-04-2012 17-40-47 4032x3024

16 April 2 16-04-2012 17-40-54 4032x3024

16 April 3 16-04-2012 17-41-03 4032x3024

16 April 4 16-04-2012 17-41-28 4032x3024

16 April 5 16-04-2012 17-41-51 4032x3024

16 April 6 16-04-2012 17-41-59 3024x4032

16 April 7 16-04-2012 17-42-22 3024x4032

16 April 7 16-04-2012 17-42-33 4032x3024

16 April 8 16-04-2012 17-43-49 3024x4032

16 April 9 16-04-2012 17-43-54 4032x3024

Red and I had a very sweet day today. She got herself a bit fussed over the weekend, and so I went back to basics, and have been concentrating on groundwork, and just being with her and grooming her and talking to her and getting her to remember I am her trusted person. I rather love this part the best anyway, and there was a lot of sweetness and bonding.

It was the first sunny day for a while, and I was able to take her rug off and let her stretch and feel the sun on her back. Of course, the first thing she did, after all the brushing, was to have a bloody good roll, which is why she is a bit muddy and dusty in these pictures. But she looks so lovely, staring out to the west. I don't know what she is gazing at, but that is how I found her, when I went up this evening:

16 April 14 16-04-2012 17-01-18 4032x3024

Considering she lost a bit of condition after the journey and the livery, and that I have not even started getting her into proper work, she doesn't look too bad, does she?

Look at her noble, duchessy head:

16 April 15 16-04-2012 17-01-25 4032x3024

And talking of nobility:

16 April 11 16-04-2012 17-31-34 4032x3024

16 April 12 16-04-2012 17-31-49 4032x3024

Red's view:

16 April 17 16-04-2012 17-30-20 4032x2200

My hill:

16 April 20 16-04-2012 17-44-21 3505x1619


  1. What you are supposed to be doing, Tania, is telling us, in that beautiful, elegant and truthful style that is unique to you, is about stuff that matters to you. Oh, and illustrating it with your lovely images. Whether that stuff is the horse, or the dog, or the hill, or the latest political hoo-hah, or grief, or joy, or anything else, doesn't matter. They are all of importance to you at that time, and you are creating us your world as of now.

    That's why we, the Dear Readers, keep coming back, no matter which of the jigsaw pieces we prefer.

    1. Cassie - you always say such kind and lovely things; thank you.

  2. Pigeon's eyes are the same colour as Red's coat! (almost) What a lovely pic of a lovely horse! Are you getting the same sort of nutty weather we are getting here in CT? It feels like August today!

    1. CatherineMarie - love the whole Pigeon's eyes Red's coat thing. It is FREEZING here; a paltry three degrees this morning. I yearn for spring sunshine.

  3. Some of the things that you call personal or 'my life' actually have a much broader range. Red and the Pigeon are very sustaining and hopeful examples of cross-species communication--that never gets old. A simple walk down the beech avenue is a glimpse of serenity for people who haven't access to it. The lovely small people are great fun and, no joke, a reassuring look at the future. Your blog may be about you, but really, it's not all about you.

    I like your horse posts (obviously) and your political posts and your general observations of life. As long as you write well, I'll read. So far that hasn't been a problem.


    1. Bird - such a kind thing to say; thank you.

  4. You are a constant in my day, I love your posts, whether political, horsey or about your soup. Don´t forget there must be many readers like me who never thank you enough for a lovely part of their day. Thank you. I am always happy to read you.


    1. Helen - incredibly kind and touching; thank you.

  5. Your blogs are always lively and interesting, and you have the natural writer's gift of making one want to read to the end. It was good to read about the new mare (a beautiful horse!) - I like horses but have little knowledge of them apart from two pony-trekking holidays in my twenties, on Exmoor. (On the last day of one holiday I was so stiff I couldn't get off the horse: someone had to take me by the waist and tug! Apart from that, and the horse once trying to start to roll when I was on it, it was a wonderful experience.)

    Your blog is fine as it is.

    1. Vivien - you are so kind; thank you. Love the picture of the mad rolling Exmoor pony.

  6. Tania, I've just had a lovely catch-up on your last posts (while *working*) and must tell you that I enjoy them all - beautiful pictures included.
    Your day is now a part of my day and sometimes I don't respond to the politics only because I have nowhere near the depth of knowledge that you do. Over here we get the headline stuff from Britain and very little detail unless it's a decent scandal. :)
    Keep doing what you do. It's just right xx

    And I do love Red's stunning view.

    1. Em - you are so reassuring; thank you. That view is amazing, isn't it? It's two miles up the hill from me, and whilst we are down in the valley, they get the mighty mountain views.

  7. What you might need to know about the more stalwart and devoted of your Dear Readers (I am speaking as I find here, but I have noticed others' thoughts as expressed in our comments seem to chime) is that we have all to a (wo)man fallen in love with The Pidge, we are all admiring of your honest, forthright and amusing writing, and its stylishness, we are utterly stoked for you that Red the Mare is come into your life after your desperately sad losses of 2011 and we think you take a mean photo of some very lovely placs, things and creatures.

    I don't take magazines anymore, or even a weekend paper with colour supplements, as th'interweb does the job for me these days. I am now out the other side of my cancer treatment and follow-up appointements, and my remaining teeth are in good shape, so I don't even get chance to peruse a magazine in a waiting room. Your blog and one or two others which are stylishly and amusingly done on topics which interest me, are my magazines. So thank you. That is what it is for. It's one woman's view of her world which strikes a chord with many other women, and a few chaps, I shouldn't wonder.

    1. And you are right about proof-reading on screen. At least three typos above, and yet it looked fine when I glanced through it before hitting publish. Husband #1 was an Oxford academic, and he always printed off a version to proof-read and got me to look at it as well. Text on paper is another breed of fish entirely...

    2. Goldenoldenlady - thank you, thank you for such a lovely comment. Like the different breed of fish phrase very much; I am going to borrow it, if that is all right. :)

    3. Be my guest. I think it is fresh-minted, but I would say that, wouldn't I? Makes a change from kettles, anyhoo

  8. I agree with all the above, am quite happy to stop by and read what ever you are offering each day, love your style, love your humour.
    While we are talking about writing for the blog - and because I can't find an email address to contact you directly - I'm preparing a blog post chez moi about the current fashion for 'life-lists' and wondered if you'd mind me quoting yours as one that I have enjoyed? If you have a moment to let me know ... merci!

    1. Sharon - lovely comment; thank you so much. Incredibly flattered you should ask about the list, and of course do go ahead. (I don't do email just because my inbox is enough of a mess as it is and also I quite like the blog to stay separate, for some strange reason.)

  9. Oh how I do love this strange internet world we've created! Blogs can be personal, and although I've heard grumblings by people who view blogs as self-indulgent, I almost always think the personal posts are the most interesting (although I too am pretty fascinated by politics so I love those too!).

    For the writer, they get to write about what is going on in their lives - they capture their moods, their thoughts, their opinions, even seemingly more mundane things like recipes and weekend activities. It's fun and even therapeutic to capture part of your life and share it with the world. For the reader, we get to see someone else's view of the world. We can relate to grumpy moods, to losses great and small, to joys great and small, to soup recipes and life lists and the myriad of ways that the world inspires. It is all wonderful, and of course if you find a blogger who is able to convey all this with extraordinary writing, well then!

    All this to say: Well done! Your blog is whatever you want it to be on any given day. You're not supposed to be doing anything more than that.

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

  10. It seems to me that you have that rare gift of making the personal universal - it's what the best columnnists can do and it looks easy until you try to do it yourself. What I admire is that you always seem to be trying to write something that is true to how you feel at that moment - again it sounds easy but for most of us it comes out wrong, pretentious or desperate, or all of them! Anyway, keep doing what you do - it is my read of the day online, and clearly lots of other people's too. Rachel

    1. Rachel - that is such a nice thing to say. I am always terrified of universalising the particular; just because I think or feel something, I assume everyone else must too. So your comment is particularly reassuring.

  11. Something seems to have been changed recently at Blogspot that makes it incompatible with the Safari browser (standard for Macs) and maybe some other browsers as well. The page doesn't load correctly, and it's not possible to make comments. This is the THIRD browser I have tried out. I wonder if anyone else has been having problems.

    You have at least one fan here for your political posts. I'm not sure if I have ever commented on any them, but I do love a good rant. I also appreciate hearing your process as you work through things going on in your life. Hurl away!

    I have been enjoying the photos with your new camera. They have been so clear and the colors gorgeous. Today I particularly like the closeup of the sage with the reds and pinks in the background.

  12. Hi Tania, the reason I don't comment on your political posts is because they make me realise my own ignorance and scurry off to read some more and think. I enjoy that just as much as seeing the daily picture of the hill and most of all I enjoy the mix. So write about what you please, but don't worry that silence = lack of appreciation. It's just that blogging leaves limited ways in which the readers can respond.
    I also suspect that some of the Dear Readers are afraid of being Rude if they want to explore further, question, or possibly disagree with some of the opinions in your political posts and will feel more comfortable - and respectful of other Dear Readers - doing their thinking in silence. Depending on the type of blog you want you that may be for the best! Take it that our comments on other posts are an outpouring of our delight at the whole blog & please don't leave politics altogether.


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