Absolutely not one word in my head now. This is the thing I always forget about family life: there are not half the hours in the day necessary for all the things that must be done. I have no idea what is happening in the news, have a diary filled with half-made arrangements, and my To Do list looks like something written by a confused dipsomaniac.
So now, finally, as the small people troop up to bed, I sit and think: there must be a blog. What blog? says my addled mind. You must be joking, it adds.
It is just about now that I annually take my hat off to the mothers and fathers and wonder how it is that you actually do it. There should be prizes. I say that every year, when I visit my family in the south, and every year it is true.
The day is gloomy and wet. People say kind things about the departed dog. I attempt not to weep all over them. The Beloved Cousin and I have a cheering lunch, with The Godson. He is twelve now and quite grown up and talks to us of space travel and the possibility of intelligent life in the universe. He is much concerned with ontological and philosophical matters, and discusses the nature of different faiths and whether there is a guiding hand behind it all, and why it is that people believe what they believe.
He is an outdoors sort of fellow; he plays football and walks his dogs and rides beautifully. He has always had an interesting and interested mind, but this new intellectual exploration is a change. I plunge in. These are some of my favourite subjects too. He makes his points and holds his ground. If he gets onto shaky territory, he either makes a very good joke, or bombards me with facts. (He knows all about the moons of Pluto.) I almost burst with pride.
Emails come from home. The poor Stepfather is finally on the mend, with his bashed knee. The Horse Talker has antic stories of Myfanwy the Pony, who apparently has developed a princess complex since I have been away, and Red the Mare, who is being so good she sounds like a dream horse in a story book. I would have put money on it being the other way round. I laugh quite a lot.
I feel a bit shaky and fragile, but there is so much sweetness and happiness in this house that it acts like a balm on my singed skin. The missing will go on for a while, but I have a solid list of the good things, to balance it.
Just as I am wandering around the computer, completing half-finished emails and adding to the tottering To Do list, I find my William Hill account, still open. There was not much racing today, but I had had a little treble this morning, more in memory of my dad than anything else. It sounds most peculiar, but I sometimes really do feel I am placing my punts for him. The irrational is pretty strong in me, just now.
Anyway, Mr William Hill gives me three happy words: WON WON WON. +£76.59, he adds, kindly. It wasn’t a specially clever bet; two of the selections were odds on. But it gives me a disproportionate feeling of delight.
Count the blessings, I think. A gratitude list is a rather self-help, hippy-ish idea, but it’s not a bad one for all that. When I have dark days, I bless the fact that I have opposable thumbs, and fingers to type. I count the ways. The secret is, I think, not taking one single thing for granted.
So sorry, no time for pictures today, so just the three girls:
Princess Myfanwy, who is slightly in disgrace:
This was sent this morning from Scotland, showing the good Red the Mare, who has been awarded a gold star for excellent behaviour. I had feared she might act up a bit in my absence, but quite the reverse:
She’s even managed to keep her new rug clean, which is a sort of equine miracle.
My much-missed Pigeon, from the archive:
A line from High Society comes into my head. It was my favourite film for a long time in my twenties, and even now the Beloved Cousin and I still laugh about the moment Grace Kelly sweeps in with a hangover and says: ‘I’m fine. Is everybody fine?’
Looking at that photograph, I think of the line: ‘Boy, she was yar.’ Yar was a yachting expression from that time; I think it meant a boat that was sleek and elegant and not quite like anything else. That will do for my Pigeon. She damn well was yar.