Posted by Tania Kindersley.
So sorry about yesterday. I mislaid it. Occasionally I lose entire days; it’s as if they have fallen down the back of the sofa.
Time no longer has its usual temporal aspect but seems composed of a series of inexplicable jerks. I start a sentence at five past ten, and half an hour later is it time for tea. I squint out of the window, where the sky is an uninformative dirty white, looking for a tear in the space-time continuum.
I am also afflicted by alternating moments of forgetfulness and whimsy. I think longingly of my university days, when I had to write so many essays and read so many primary sources that my brain was as fit as a butcher’s dog. Now it creaks and groans under sustained effort, like an ancient schooner in a high sea.
The mare though, was an absolute angel this morning. Yesterday, she was not in the mood at all, rolling her eyes at me in schoolgirl defiance. Today, she was like one of those videos that people put on the internet to show natural horsemanship at its crest and peak. It was as if she took a course in the night, secretly. She did not crowd me, locked on to my shoulder like a dream, stopped when I said stop, stood for ten minutes when told to stand as I wandered off to test her. Sometimes, when she does things this well, it makes me laugh out loud.
Then I come back to the book and all is adrenaline and jangle.
Why are books sometimes so hard? Well, it’s mostly redundancy. I might spend a couple of weeks researching an aspect of the subject. I make notes, I think about it, eventually I write it. Then I get to the Dead Darlings stage, and it must be murdered. It might be buggery bollocks, or it might be perfectly fine, but events have overtaken it. I have another, better section on a similar theme, or something has happened out in the world which makes it seem dated, or there just isn’t room. I’ve already done about 20,000 words too many, and I’m still going.
I have to have a tiny wail at this stage of the process, mostly because I need to explain why the current state of blogging is so shockingly poor. And, because I am prone to occasional wailing generally.
But the perspective police are on the march. I listen to the news from Syria, the only thing dark and dramatic enough to burst my current news bubble. I think: there are children being slaughtered in the streets. By contrast, I am having am mild mental wrangle. The only thing I have at risk is my amour-propre: I may write a not good enough book and critics will call it by its name. That is the worst that may happen. It is not life and death. It is not being shot to death in the street by militia goons. So, I step back from complaint and remember my great good fortune and regain the perspective.
On a basic human level, there is one thing I really do not understand. Assad once seemed like a fairly ordinary man. He was an ophthalmologist from the Edgware Road, for God’s sake. Now he is acting like the most unrestrained and barbarous dictator. What he is doing to his people is monstrous. I hate the lazy, melodramatic use of the word evil, but it fits here: what he is doing is evil.
What I don’t get is how it can be worth it. How can you steep yourself so far in blood, kill women and children in the streets, murder or lock up any opposition, lose a any sense of morality or remorse, just for an empty title and a limousine? Sure, you are president, but of a small country with high unemployment, diminishing oil, and hopelessly corrupt public services. You are internationally reviled and ostracised. Is the lure of such tarnished power really worth all that killing? I genuinely do not understand the psychology. The cost is so disproportionate to the reward. I mean, he does not look like a homicidal maniac, so presumably he must be calculating some kind of cost and reward; he is not foaming at the mouth mad. That is what I do not get. It seems that Assad has sold his soul for a mess of pottage, and his poor country is paying the brutal, unimaginable price.
Pictures of the day. It seems a bit odd to have flowers after that last thought, but I suppose they know nothing of dictatorships; they just grow in the good earth:
The rain has come back, as you can see, and the Pigeon is adorably wet:
Red, in close-up:
Where the hill should be: