Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Back from London. It was grey and windy and wet. I strode about in my sensible boots with a huge black umbrella and an absurd velvet coat. Old haunts, old friends (one all the way from California), old jokes, red wine, good food, good conversation. A lot of affection, which is the very thing, just now.

The dear old city looked a bit drowned and defeated in the weather. But just as I think oh dear, poor, soggy London, there is something hopeful – a whole gaggle of children, excited and bright-eyed, in the National Portrait Gallery, a kind taxi driver, pretty Christmas decorations, a man solemnly eating his breakfast in South Kensington whilst wearing a trilby hat.

I thought, oddly, of my father. He was not a London man, but when he had to go up for lunches or meetings or haircuts he used to go through Paddington Station, just as I did today. Whenever I am there, I get a flash of him in the smart blue suit he wore for going to the smoke. Sometimes I see an old fella who looks a bit like him, and I get a catch in my throat.

Our ghosts, I think; how we carry them with us. I think: we must keep them very close to our hearts.


Some old pictures of my dear departeds:

21 Nov Duchess and Pidge from November 2010

21 Nov Duchess and Pigeon from 2010

Those are the old loves. Here are the new ones, from a bit earlier in the year. I think of them and smile and wonder how they are getting on without me in blustery Scotland. The weather has been bad there too, but I see the forecast is for sun. My girls will like that:

21 Nov pony

21 Nov Red  from the summer

21 Nov Red September

Oh, and I have new hair. Short as a brush and striped in three different kinds of red. (My poor mother; she dreams of the day when I shall revert to my natural blonde, and be her little golden girl again.) My hairdresser, who has known me since I was twelve years old, turns to his new assistant: ‘This one,’ he says, gesturing at me. ‘You can do anything with this one. Dotty as you like.’ He means this as a tremendous compliment. I take it as one.


  1. What a wise hairdresser. Wonderful. Any chance of a photo?

    I have just arrived in wet, cold London for two days' business. Emerging from Notting Hill Gate underground in a squall of freezing rain was not nice. Not that Norfolk was much friendlier when I left it.

  2. Yes, we'll need to see your hair. :)

    Lovely photos. Don't the sisters look alike in the top pic?

  3. Their coats are just so shiny in that lovely photo.

  4. Yes please, a photo of the hair!
    Beautiful photos of the girls - old and new.
    I'm catching up. sad anniversaries and happy birthdays here.

  5. London always cheers me up too, no matter what the weather, and also haunts with all the ghosts of the past. It is true, we must hold our ghosts close. The vet who put my last dog down(long ago because my heart still has not healed enough) wisely told me that they live on in our hearts. Your hair sounds wonderful!

  6. Dotty as you like. Got to love it.


  7. Another clamor for a view of dotty hair. You won't regret short as a brush.

  8. And yet another request for a pic of the dotty hair, It sounds so cheering.

  9. Eagerly awaiting photos of you with "new" hair.

  10. indeed! hair sounds wild! wonderful. i read this the other day and thought of you and P...such a touching tribute to a much loved dog.
    glad you're home to your beloved and salaams from tanzania. x j

  11. You see how she is, people? She draws us to her heart with stories of dogs and horses, thrills us with recounts of close calls in races gone by, and seduces us with photographs of Scotland.... and then she goes and gets a new hairdo and DOESN'T POST ANY DANG PICTURES!



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