Almost every human has a neat little box-set of fantasies about themselves. I would guess that many, many humans think they have good taste, and can dance. (This is usually not true.)
I was thinking about this because I believe that I wrote something on this blog, not many days ago, along the lines of: I am usually wary of writing about myself.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, HA, must have gone the hollow, knowing laughter of the Dear Readers. How politely you restrained yourself from pointing out that this was a frankly peculiar and empirically inaccurate statement.
I have several fantasies about myself. One is that I can secretly sing. I sort of know this is not true, but I almost believe it, all the same. Occasionally, if the key is right and the light is coming from the correct direction, I can carry a tune, but that’s not the same thing at all.
I think I am not competitive. Anyone who has seen me play any kind of game knows this is arrant nonsense. When I am driving south, I even compete pointlessly against myself: best time from Hamilton to Tebay, quickest fling over the Cairn 'O Mount; I set my watch and grit my teeth. Still, I persist in the delusion.
I like to pretend that I am a kind, tolerant person, who does not stoop to ad hominem and restrains the inner bitch. I’d probably get a half pants on fire for that one. I attempt kindness, and believe in it; I embrace keenly the idea of tolerance. But sometimes, oh, oh, that inner bitch comes out and does the tango. Then I can only resort to the enduring line from Some Like it Hot: ‘Nobody’s perfect.’ It’s a fairly feeble excuse.
I think I am perfectly marvellous at perspective. You know how I bash on about the perspective police. I can call the buggers in, but my ability to spiral into the pit of despair over the smallest slight, to conclude that I am utterly useless after a minuscule setback is currently at Olympic level.
I could go on. You get the drift.
I was wondering why I nurtured the fantasy that I don’t write about myself all the time, on this blog. I think it is because I really do dislike solipsism; I find those endless columns in the first person quite tiring, unless they are very funny indeed; I can’t bear those people who bring every single subject back to their own experience. One of the saddest things at any social gathering is talking to a person who does not ask you a single question. (I end up treating this as some kind of anthropological survey, in order to keep death by dullness at bay.)
But the truth is that this is all about me. Even when I pretend that I am tackling some great objective subject, it is still from my own discrete point of view.
I suppose it is allowed, because the whole point of a personal blog is that it is, of course, personal. As I always say, no one is forced to read the thing. But it does seem rather indulgent, and I feel a bit green about the gills as I must admit to myself that it is mostly unfettered solipsism.
I should now counter this horrid tendency at once by tackling a Great Question of the Day. Surely I must have something interesting to add about the tightening of the polls in Ohio, or the scandal at the poor old BBC, or the shouting over the badger cull.
It turns out, not. Not today.
Today, I learnt yet another of those small life lessons that I seem to be accumulating like lifebelts. It is not a specially clever lesson, but it feels like a potent one to me, so I am going to risk the farther shores of self-indulgence and share it with the group.
It is: just because one thing went wrong, it does not mean everything is crap.
You see the profundity.
My ride with my mare yesterday really was awful. I felt furious with myself, with her, with the whole damn thing. I thought I was an idiot even to have bought a horse. I truly believed that our relationship, which I had cherished so, and invested so much in, lay smashed on the floor like so much broken china. I am a forty-five-year old professional female, and it reduced me to childish tears.
When I went up this morning, I was determined to make things better, but I was not sure how. I had so much raging angst and disappointment that I could hardly look at her. It had all gone to hell, and there was nothing to be rescued from the ashes.
Then, all the elements configured themselves in my favour. It was the most ravishing, misty morning. The sun was muddling through the mist, diffusing a holy blue light over the hills. The mare was sweet and calm. We did a new kind of work on the ground; she was responsive and willing. I felt some of the fury and shame shift.
With some trepidation, I got on. Baby steps, I told myself. And: fuck ‘em all if they can’t take a joke. And: no one is watching and judging.
She was immaculate. Not a shiver of resistance, no head-tossing, no baulking, no mulishness. She went straight and true, calm as a Carmelite, happy as a nut. Yesterday, every inch of her body was saying no; today, every atom said yes.
I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was that I tried something new. Perhaps it was that I switched my mindset a little. I wondered if I had been spoiling and babying her, even though officially I frown on this. I thought it was time to assert myself, not in a bullying shouty way, but in a determined, steady way.
Perhaps it was just chance or fate or some unknown thing. The mystery of the thoroughbred is something to which I return again and again in these pages.
Everything was repaired, just like that. Love and confidence flooded back. She stood with me afterwards with her head on my shoulder and we watched the yellow sun chase away the early shadows.
The pony came over and rubbed her dear little forehead against my arm and whickered. The filly ambled over for some of the affection. Everyone was very still and very happy.
My little herd, I thought; best thing I ever did. The ruins transfigured themselves into a shining citadel. All my idiotic fears dissipated; reality returned. It was just one thing. I must, must, must remember this. I don’t know why I find it so easy to forget.
Then I went home, did many words of work, attended to most of the things that needed attention, had a sweet time with the Pigeon, drank some strong coffee, had a bet on the 3.05 at Newmarket, and told myself, for the hundred and twentieth time this year, that I really must try not to be quite such an idiot.
The misty morning, as I came out of my front door:
And up at Red’s View, varying degrees of mist, as the light started to break through:
Autumn the Filly:
Red inspecting the blue mist whilst Myfanwy the Pony has a little rest:
M the P in the mist:
Minnie the Moocher:
Here is how this goes:
Oh, there you are.
I am making my approach.
With my very, very good face on.
And the dial set to Adorable.
SO YOU WILL GIVE ME LOVE AND TREATS.
Actually, it only goes like that in my mind. In her horsey mind, who knows?
The Pigeon always looks very pretty against the fallen leaves, although she has her resigned how long do I have to sit here before you throw the ball face on:
REALLY? That long?