Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Do you ever have days when it all gets too much? I am having one of those days. I woke up wobbly, grew progressively wobblier, and then fell right over, flat on my face.
It was nothing in particular. I love the particular. I crave the discrete. It’s that rational, empirical part of my brain kicking in, the one I believe in, the one that will keep me safe from magical thinking and conspiracy theories and false promises. I like reasons for things. This happened because that happened; x plus y equals z. I like things to make sense.
A voice is now shouting in my head, like a rather exasperated person calling from the next room. ‘It’s life,’ the voice is shouting. ‘That’s life.’ The voice puts its hands on its hips and rolls its eyes and goes off to do something more interesting.
When it is this non-specific sorrow, it’s always the smallest thing that sets it off. Sure, you’re a bit tense, your teeth are a bit grindy, the weather is shit, everything is getting on top of you, but you’re fine, because you are a healthy human living in a free democracy in the 21st century and you have all your fingers and all your toes and a roof over your head and the ability to type. And then, you suddenly find yourself sobbing in the kitchen because you burnt the soup.
I am fretting about my book. It’s not just the glitch. It’s that I didn’t nail it. I worked and worked and bloody worked. I worked evenings and weekends. I murdered all my darlings. I wrangled and strangled and struggled and strived. And it’s still not right. Sometimes a book just falls into place, like a gift from the sky. Backwards was a bit like that. Sometimes I dance with the book, whilst a full orchestra plays in the background. And sometimes, it doesn’t matter what I do, how hard I try, it just won’t come out right, and instead of a full sense of achievement I am left with a haunting sense of lost chance.
My poor mum is not very well, and I wish that were not so and that there were some miracle doc who could make her better. She is very brave and stoical about it, but I wish she did not have to be brave and stoical. There is a low humming fret about the dear old Pigeon. She looks well and runs for her stick and her coat is glossy, but sometimes now, when she gets up after a long sleep, she is a bit wobbly on her pins; she sways like a sailor on a high sea. This is the small, terrifying reminder of her great age, a daily sign that I may not have her for so very much longer and I try not to think about it, because it kills me.
Every day at the races last week, for all the joy, I saw the ghost of my dad. I remembered him in the Irish bar, which, like him, does not exist any more, drinking Guinness with his tall friend Bill. I’m really sad he could not see Frankel run his great race.
So, all these small things gather and swarm but I am fine, I am fine, because look how lucky I am. I sometimes refuse to give in to melancholy, on rather bizarre moral grounds. If I give in to sadness and grouchiness, when I have so much outrageous fortune, then I feel it is somehow offensive to those people who have terrible lives. If I am living in a war zone, or in fear or tearing poverty, then I may complain. It’s a bit nuts, but it also contains a grain of truth. I get very grumpy with those people who have good lives but still complain and whine and make dramas where there need be none. One damn well should appreciate one’s good luck, if one is lucky enough to have it. Otherwise it’s such a waste, and I hate waste.
I knew that life had beaten me, for this one day, when the smallest of small things precipitated a storm of grief. It was the horse. I went up this morning and she ignored me. (I am ashamed even writing this it is so stupid, but the blog is the place of truth, so you must have it all.) Sometimes she does this. She is doing horse stuff; she is not necessarily in the mood for human contact. Usually it makes me laugh, and I rib her about being a dozy old donkey face. Sometimes she raises her head and whinnies and gallops to me, and that makes my heart rise like a helium balloon, but sometimes she is just eating, and does not wish to be disturbed.
I should be pleased about this. It means I have produced a relaxed horse, an animal who is not needy. She really is at home here. But because of all the swirling non-specific stuff, today I took it as a terrible rejection. All my abandonment issues gathered themselves into a mighty army and marched out to do battle. The inner wail, armoured in wrong constructions and category errors, rose in despair. My mare does not love me any more, it cried, idiotically. I had no defence against it, so there I was, stomping about a green field in my muddy gumboots, tears streaming down my face, whilst my horse quietly grazed.
And that was when I started writing this in my head. Writing is the thing that makes sense of the things that do not make sense. The exasperated voice is right: it is just life. Sometimes I find life very confusing indeed. But if I can put it into sentences, with their lovely commas and semi-colons, their cadences and phrases, their sub-clauses and modifiers, then it takes on some explicable form. I really do think that is why I write at all, because the only place that life may make any sense at all is on the page.
I am winding down now, my fingers tapping slower and slower over the keyboard. My shoulders are coming down. The storm is passing. I feel the echoes of it in my body still, like an ebbing tide. (I always know when my emotions are high, because I start mixing my metaphors.) The Pigeon is dozing beside me. Outside the window, a rare sun has appeared from behind the clouds and is brightening the beeches and the chestnuts to a singing lime green.
It is very simple, after all that. Mostly I am cheerful, but some days I am sad. Today I was sad. It’s not failure; it just is. I am going to sit very still for a while. Then I shall watch the Northumberland Plate. I’m going to have a tiny fiver each way on the mudlark Montaff, and give him a good shout. Slowly, slowly, if I do not make any sudden moves, everything shall return to normal.
The Duchess’s little apple tree. I thought too of her, today:
DO NOT DISTURB ME. I AM EATING:
I, on the other hand, may be disturbed at any moment of the day or night, as long as there is love or stick or biscuit in the equation: