There are days when I don’t know what to write. Must give them SOMETHING, yells the sergeant-major part of the brain, crossly. But there is nothing, my hopeless, plaintive self replies.
Then there are days when I have forty-seven things to write and do not know where to start. This is one of those days.
I think about blogging often; I am interested in the novel medium as it shakes itself and spreads its wings. I wonder: what is it? A diary, a record, a twisty little firestarter (let’s have a heated debate), a communal space, a stage for opinion, or a showcase for prose? Everyone has to have their horridly named Unique Selling Point. Mine is, or should be, that I can, when the light is coming from the right direction, conjure a decent sentence. I do not have a particularly fascinating life or do anything remarkable; I am not in the loop, or in possession of a talent to philosophise. But the thing I should be able to give you is some reasonable writing, to brighten a dark day.
That’s why I get so cross when I have the dead prose days, and the words fall lifeless onto the page.
Today, I go back to an old idea; that it should be a conversation. Bugger the prose. I actually thought, this morning, after breakfast: oh, I really want to talk to the Dear Readers. This is quite peculiar and quite lovely at the same time. It brings me back to my favourite and unexpected element of the whole shooting match, which is the kindness of strangers. That kindness has been in shining evidence over the last days.
But then, of course, I sit down to write and there are the forty-seven things all jostling about in my brain and I do not know where to start.
My theme, because I must have a theme, is the light and shade again; the good and bad, existing alongside each other; the hope and hopelessness.
It was a lovely, light, mild morning. The Sister and I went together to the horses. She is recovering from a horrid operation, and must move slowly, like an old lady.
We take the mare out for a walk and a pick of the good grass outside her paddock. We all go very gently. The mare inspects her new environment, having a quick check for mountain lions, and then falls to grazing. I lean on her shoulder, and The Sister and I talk; of life, of our childhood, of the family.
We grew up like this, with horses; this standing in a field with an equine is old language to us. It feels like some kind of circle, as we come back to it in our middle age. We remember the shows and the mucking out and the grooming and the polishing of boots. Our mother was very strict about our horse discipline; if we were to have the great good fortune of ponies, we would have to work hard for our pleasure. Now we are of mother age ourselves, we think this early training was a very Good Thing.
So that was lovely; restful, peaceful, real. The horses were happy; we were happy. I returned to my desk filled with resolve, ready for the day.
I made telephone calls and did admin before work, and there was a small car setback. It was the tiniest most idiotic thing. The car needs fixing; I had a plan for it; the plan has gone smash. I shall have to drive south with a dodgy motor. That’s fine; I have spent my life with a succession of dodgy motors. I sometimes dream of what it would be like to have a pristine new car that actually worked; instead I generally charge about in a muddy third-hand jalopy with at least one warning light on.
This is what I remember from last year: the proportion goes. Sadness removes all defences. So instead of taking it on the chin and making an alternative plan, like a grown-up, I whimpered and collapsed in a heap. This is what I discover, as I learn more about grieving. You can pull yourself together and concentrate on the good things and be determined and understand that life goes on. You can, if you are me, console yourself with love and soup and trees. But all it takes is one small thing, and suddenly I am undone, all over again. I am that line in Auden: nothing now can come to any good.
Right, I think, recovering myself; there is that thing. I remember that now. I can factor that in.
I make some stew. There must be the making of the soups and stews. I watch the 1.10 at Huntingdon, where a delightful, honest horse called Royale Knight absolutely sails round and wins in a canter, with my money on his lovely back. I feel a flicker of pleasure and admiration and delight. The horses, in all their guises, known and unknown, can still lift the battered heart.
I write this. I concentrate on small steps. I look, on the internet, hesitantly, shyly, for dogs that need a home. I veer back and forth. The empty house, the lack of that loving gaze, the loss of sound and sense of dog is awful. On the other hand, I need some time and space. But a little look can’t hurt.
I think: what was it I wanted to say again?
Sister, with her dog:
The sweet companions. I love that sleepy pony face:
This is Red’s hopeful face, when she sees me coming to the gate:
By the time I got back, the light had gone and the hill was hardly visible in the murk. Light and shade indeed: