An absolutely massive working day. After weeks of feeling like I was wading through mud, I finally got the pitch and no fewer than two sample chapters finished and sent off to the agent. (The Playwright rang just after lunch to inspire me, and no one inspires quite like he can.)
There was also a wild ride in the sunshine and a twenty-minute conversation with The Farmer, who wanted to know all about the mare. We swapped notes on cows and horses and came away happy as grigs. Or at least, I was deliriously happy. He was smiling politely but you never know. It could have been massive equine overload shock. (He did drive away rather quickly in his navy blue Landrover before I could start telling him about the Darley Arabian.)
The good part of all this is that I have had a proper and fulfilling day. I even managed to take a very quick glance at the 2.55 at Ascot. (My fancy, Dansili Duel, finished an honourable third. I wish my father had taught me the trick of each-way betting, but he never did. It was all on the nose with him.) The bad part is that my huge Olympic blog plan is completely scuppered because my fingers are now too gnarled to type and my brain is too fogged to think.
I will say one thing though, which is a big, big thank you to Mitt Romney. No one else could have managed to unite the country so completely with a few disobliging sentences. All the PR gurus and advertising mavens and feelgood experts must be chewing their arms off with rage, since no campaign they could have devised would have done the job more efficiently.
Mr Romney, I suspect, does not understand quite a lot of things. The one thing he really does not comprehend is that we Britons are the only ones who are allowed to bitch and grouse and grumble about our own shortcomings. The British have a slightly odd habit of taking a twisted pride in thinking of themselves as a little bit crap. Britons moan and groan about our football team crashing out of tournament after tournament; we know we no longer rule the waves; we understand very well that the tube and the NHS are a bit of a shambles. Mr Romney clearly has no time for the shambolic; he dreams of the coming American century, the shining city on the hill. We know our city will always be a little dusty.
But just because Ordinary Decent Britons take an almost perverse pride in the crapness of everything, adore to complain, and indulge in heavy irony rather than Pollyanna-ish sanguinity, it does not mean that anyone may come in from the outside and tell us how feckless and pointless and hopeless we are. That is our job.
(It is very, very rare that I use the Universal We. I dare to use it here, even though it’s a bit naughty; obviously not every last British person will subscribe to the shambolic sentiment.)
Within hours of Romney talking of the British public’s lack of enthusiasm for the games, calling poor old Ed Miliband ‘Mr Leader’, as if he were a character in Star Trek, and saying he had just looked out of the ‘backside of Number Ten Downing Street’, seemingly unaware that backside means arse in British English, the hashtag #romneyshambles was trending on Twitter. Outside, the great British public were crowding the streets, hanging from lampposts as the Olympic torch went by, roaring with approval in Hyde Park as Boris Johnson said ‘There’s this chap called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we’re ready. Are we ready?’ I thought: I think we are ready.
Good old Mitt, with his extraordinary lack of grace and shocking manners, has added vastly to the gaiety of nations, and to this one in particular. We may criticise ourselves as if grumbling were itself an Olympic sport, but when an outsider doubts us, we rise up like tigers. As Churchill said: we will defend our island. The Romneyshambles jokes came thick and fast, and everyone seemed to decide dear old Blighty might be able to put on a party after all.
I suddenly realised that, for all the fumbles and missteps (I do think that getting a hamburger chain to sponsor a sporting event is quite odd), it is damn well the greatest show on earth and this crumbling old island nation might just do it proud.
Watching the happy crowds, I felt a bit teary and oddly patriotic. Thanks to Mitt Romney, I became fired with Olympic zeal and Corinthian spirit. Go, Team GB, I thought. We may not be the best in the world, we may be a bit bashed and battered, but we do have our moments.
Just time for my own little Team GB:
And our hill: