Friday, 19 October 2012

Random Friday

Here is a random Friday for you:

1. I’ve been a bit tense and unsettled this week, not sleeping that well, and not getting things done in the way I would like. I thought it was the weather, perhaps. Sometimes I just have a bit of a scratchy week. It’s just a thing, not a three act opera. But last night, I discovered what it was. I have been missing my dad.

The missing comes and goes. Sometimes I remember him with smiles and ease; I laugh when I think of him. Some days I accept quite naturally that he is not here any more. That is life, that is how it goes. And then, usually out of the blue, there are moments of absolutely streaming fury and grief, a feeling of utter unnaturalness, as if the fact that he died ripped some ghastly tear in the space time continuum and spun the universe off its axis.

The violence of this feeling takes me by surprise. It comes up right from the gut. It is elemental and overwhelming. The only thing to do is to let it have its course. I shout and cry a bit, and then it’s all out, and I can move on.

Today, after the swamping tears, I feel lighter and more human. I move through the drear weather with a feeling of being present in the world.

The missing is strange because sometimes I don’t know I am doing it. I suppose one misses the dear departed always, really. The trick is to fold the lack into one’s daily life, to find a good place for it. Because I like reasons for things, and places for things, I think I should almost schedule a moment of missing into each week, so that it does not build up and whack me round the head. There should be a moment at four in the afternoon when I stop the clocks.

This is absurd, of course. There is no order to it. He was a lovely, flawed, funny, brave man, and he lit up every room he entered, and a light has gone out. Of course I miss him. He was my dad.

2. The thing, conversely, that is making me laugh the most this week is that the Etonians have gone viral. Some funny schoolboys have made a video in the Gangnam manner (I am far too great-auntish to know what this is), taking the piss out of themselves. The Lovely Stepfather is sometimes concerned about toff-bashing; I think he finds it rude and intellectually lazy. I could tell him this morning that the toffs were fighting back, through the medium of dance. He looked slightly surprised.

Over at The Guardian, one writer was very snarky about the whole thing. In the comments though, the paper’s Dear Readers were rather staunch, pointing out that it was a cheap shot to bitch up young schoolboys, however rich their parents might be.

Go and look for Eton Style on the You Tube. It’s a perfect diversion for a rainy Friday.

3. The Health Secretary surprised me this morning. In the 8.10 interview on the Today programme, he was asked about his personal belief that abortion should be outlawed at twelve weeks. This is not government policy, and he voted for it on a free vote, but still, that really is something the people have a right to know about. He was asked, most politely, three times, to cite the ‘evidence’ that he said his decision was based upon. He would not answer the question. He said that talking about this would only get him into trouble.

People who know Jeremy Hunt say he is a nice man. He does not have a good public image though. Quite apart from questions of humanity and morality and honesty, surely sheer strategy would tell him that dodging such a question would not endear him further to the population.

I’ve banged on about this before, but I genuinely don’t understand why politicians can’t see that not answering the question makes them look absurd and shifty and rather ill-mannered. Michael Heseltine used to deal with it brilliantly. He would roar with laughter and say: ‘John, you can’t possibly expect me to answer that.’ Quite often, he would say why. He was honest and humorous about his refusal to answer, and the interviewer would move on to more fertile pastures. Now, the operatives revert to po-faced talking points, as if the audience will be too stupid to notice. It is patronising and wrong and I wish they would stop doing it. If only so that I don’t have to shout at the wireless each morning: ‘ANSWER THE SODDING QUESTION.’

3. I’d slightly forgotten my technique, on awful weather days, of looking very closely at the small things of beauty, so as not to be overwhelmed by the dirty brown hideousness of the day. Even Scotland, with her vivid colours and her mountains and forests, cannot look lovely with the weather this stinking. The country looks drowned and defeated. But I managed to find some lovely lichen and some fallen leaves and a bit of moss to get my aesthetic hit. You shall see in the photographs. It brings me back to the little things, which are of paramount importance, especially if the big picture is murky, literally or metaphorically.

4. I think, about once every hour, of Frankel. I think of his brilliance, his grace, his power, his intelligence, his beauty. I think of all the hearts he has lifted. I think of Sir Henry Cecil, who says the horse is his inspiration.

I think: I hope it is not raining at Ascot.

5. Interestingly, despite all the pundits and prognosticators calling the American election as tight as a drum, with Mitt Romney moving ahead in some polls and the slow economy still a drag on the President, William Hill has Mr Obama at five to two on. In racing terms, this is a prohibitive odds-on favourite. Mitt Romney is two to one against. I wonder: does Mr William Hill know something that Mark Halperin and Joe Scarborough do not? (I’m still quite cross with those fellows for being smug and patronising about the whole binders of women thing.)

6. As I write this, I gaze out of the window. The sky is the colour of old washing and the trees are gloomy shadows and everything is wet. I think it is time for chicken soup. This may be the only answer. Also: chocolate. I hate saying that because it’s a lady-cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason, and that reason is that they are often true.

Chocolate it is.


Today’s pictures:

Red’s View, drowned in the rain. There should be a whole mountain there. WHERE IS THE MOUNTAIN???:

19 Oct 1

19 Oct 2

Moody trees:

19 Oct 3

But then I saw the silver birch wood was actually looking ravishing, so I took about twenty pictures of it, to cheer me up:

19 Oct 4

19 Oct 4-001

19 Oct 4-002

19 Oct 4-003

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Back at home, there was the old iron fence and the fallen leaves:

19 Oct 5

The canopy of limes:

19 Oct 6

One leaf:

19 Oct 7

Rickety shed:

19 Oct 8

MOSS!!! I love MOSS:

19 Oct 9

Leaves and lichen. All the Ls:

19 Oct 9-001

The herd was in a surprisingly happy mood, considering. Autumn the Filly:

19 Oct 11

Myfanwy the Pony:

19 Oct 12-001

That nose wrinkle is because she is doing her little whicker of hello. Kills me every time.

Red the Mare:

19 Oct 13

The good companions:

19 Oct 10

If we just close our eyes will the weather go away?:

19 Oct 12

Regal Pigeon:

19 Oct 20

No hill today. Lost in cloud.

Happy Friday.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Happy Friday to you too. It's been a funny old Friday, with ups and downs, upsetting talks and uplifting talks, grey, murky rain and fire-bright leaves hanging on the trees.

    I saw Frankel was on the BBC news website this morning and thought of you. Was absurdly pleased that (through you) I knew about him.

    Here's to a hopefully less wet weekend in Scotland. Failing that, I'd be happy if next week could be dry, as I'm off to Arran for a bit.

  3. Here's my random comment.

    I dreamt of a dear departed one last night. They were on the phone to me. 'Why will you not come?' he said to me. 'Because you let me down,' I replied.

    And there was enough there in that brief exchange to unpick this whole day long and whilst I say to myself that this is my subconscious and its unresolved issues coming to the fore, I know it is also my conscious mind that unreasonably requires that the people I love do not let me down: leaving me by dying. The older I get, the more people do it and I can never get used to it. If I ever do, I suspect it will be time for me to let my own children down too.

    Accommodating absences is a painful business, but the pain is a sharp reminder that I have loved and that, I suppose, is the point.

  4. Oh, thank you, Tania! It has been a grim old week; grim few weeks, if the truth be told, yet here I am with tears in my eyes brought about by laughter. "Eton Style" is such a romp - I might have missed the reference had not a friend forced me to watch its inspiration but it stands alone quite nicely - and once again I have hope for the future of the world.

  5. Brilliant post and cheered me up at the end of a very, very long week here. You especially filled my heart with the description of missing dad....eight years on, I still have those grief-filled moments, often as I sit with my mom, who is still with us at 93. Thank you.

  6. Thanks to my daughter I actually know about "gangnam" so I thoroughly enjoyed the "Eton Style" send-up (and most likely would have missed it had I not read it here, so thank you too!). It has already brightened what is looking to be a very gray (and wet) day.

  7. ooh loving the moss - need to find some mossy green brushed corduroy to make a long winter skirt...Thanks for the inspiration :-)


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