I was going to write a whole thing about money and happiness and privilege and elitism in sport. Oh, I had an argument for you. As I cleaned my teeth this morning and thought of it, I became really quite philosophical.
Then the day picked up and galloped off like a wild pony. Now it is ten to eight and there is no energy in my fingers.
I’ll just put up a couple of pictures, I thought. That’s fine. It’s Friday night after all. And it’s not as if the world comes to an end if I do not post a blog.
I felt very happy today. Everything was at its most lovely: the weather, the horses, the vet, the dog, the family, the work; even Scotland herself, gleaming and preening in the light. All the things with which I am blessed were at their crest and peak. And even though I am exhausted, I thought: oh, I know what I shall do. I shall not just put up a couple of pictures. I shall thank the Dear Readers.
I suddenly realised, yesterday, that I ask quite a lot of you. I express pretty much every emotion I have at the moment I have it. I follow my own flaky star, so that you get endless posts on whatever is obsessing me at any given moment, whether it is American politics or the mare or mortality or grief. I rather expect that you shall be fascinated by all the things by which I am fascinated.
Of course, as I occasionally touchily point out, you have the delightful luxury of not having to read. If I am talking of a subject in which you have no interest, you have the liberty to turn the page. But blogging is not quite as simple as that. There is a really strange connection that builds up. It’s revoltingly sappy to say so, but it does become like a little family. A couple of people were properly rude to me on Twitter the other day. I did not care, because they were strangers. I was amazingly robust. I am used to thinking of myself as thin-skinned, but I surprised myself. I shrugged off the rude, shouty people as if they were nothing. Here, it is different, because it is not strangers; everyone who comes here is part of a small community. Criticism here wounds in the way that family barbs hurt. There are expectations; there is an unwritten compact. So, it’s not quite as simple as saying: turn the page.
That is why I abruptly thought of what it is I ask of the readership. You do have expectations, and so you should. You come here, many of you every day, looking for something. If I am being winding or self-indulgent or woolly, you do, in some odd way, have the right to ask for your money back, even though you have paid no money.
Some of you bugger off, and I don’t blame you. But many of you stay, through the thick, and the very, very thin. You kindly sympathise, when I miss my dad; or empathise, when I battle with my work; or cheer, if something goes well.
Yesterday, something went well. You, utter strangers to me, whom I shall almost certainly shall never meet, cheered, as if the good thing were your own. It’s very hard to put into words how touching that is. I love the miracles of the internet. Grouchy people like to point out its ghastly aspects, and complain about the solitary sadness of finding community through a screen. I say community is a crucial part of life, and I don’t care if it is actual or virtual. In lovely corners of the world wide web, there are communities just as vital and real as anything in a front room or a corner shop.
Yesterday, one of the smallest of those communities made me smile. So, thank you for that. Thank you for coming back, for leaving comments, for putting up with the tangential and the incoherent and the sometimes frankly odd. Often, you move me more than you know. Yesterday was one of those days.
Some quick pictures for you:
As I was going through today’s pictures, I found this next one. It was quite a surprise. The Older Niece and the Man in the Hat, who are visiting from the south, had come up this evening to meet Red and Myfanwy. They found me just as I was, I am afraid to admit, giving my mare a head massage. She gets fussed on hot days with the flies and everything, and my job in the evening is to soothe and settle her.
I wipe her eyes with lotion and then apply a balm I made myself with added citronella, and spend about fifteen minutes rubbing it all over her dear head. My aim is to leave her happier than I found her, and when I do, it is like a great big existential present.
One of the things I love most about her is that she allows me to gentle her. Some horses are not all that amenable to this. They hear the ancestral voices too strongly, or they have bad memories of hard treatment, and all that may act as a barrier. Red has no barrier. One of the most glorious things about her is that I may find her grumpy and leave her in trance of pleasure. All it takes is a bit of patience and love and rubbing.
Anyway, The Man in the Hat or The Older Niece must have snatched up my camera, and caught me just as I was turning, with a bit of a goofy laugh, because they had found me being daffy with my horse:
The hill, rather blurry and blue today: