Wednesday, 12 December 2012


This is a Red Letter Day. It is a day among days. Apparently, this repetitive date is the last one ever. I can’t quite work it out in my mind. Surely it will come again, on the 12th of December 3012? I suppose what people mean is that we shall all be dead by then.

Either way, it feels tremendously thrilling to me, for a reason I cannot work out at all. I am inspired to blog the whole day. I actually signed up to a thing called One Day on Earth, where they are making a brilliant project, getting millions of people to record the day on video, and then posting it all on their website. This is a lovely idea of human community and I was all for it, until I realised that I only have a pathetic video facility on my ordinary camera and have never been able to work that properly. Instead, I am going to do my own little one day, right here in this small corner of the earth.

It will be like the Mass Observation: an ordinary day, in the ordinary life of an ordinary woman, on an extraordinary date.

I did not start the great day on a glorious note. I slept through three alarms and ran down to the horses with my hair sticking up in shock and lateness. They were unmoved, feeding happily at their new, custom-built, hand-carved hay manger.

I worked first with my small Welsh Mountain pony. We did some gentle ground work, yielding at the quarters and shoulder, backing up, coming to. We did a little join-up, and I had the keen pleasure of walking the field with her at my side. It’s an easy technique, but it gives me the most intense joy, and every time I do it I bless the cleverness of Monty Roberts, and wonder that it never fails. I think the delight of it is that an essentially wild animal is giving you their consent. This feels quite profound to me.

Afterwards, I stand with the pony for a while, scratching her all over her sweet spots, gentling her muzzle, telling her she is easily the cleverest pony in Scotland. She leans her head against me and I feel my heart expand with love.

Myfanwy is, on paper, good for nothing. She is old, and her back is crocked, so she cannot be ridden. All the rescue charities find it almost impossible to home what they call companion horses. Yet, to me, she is good for everything. She has grown into the most beloved, entirely irreplaceable member of the herd. I cannot imagine life without her. Red the Mare would be lost without her small, furry friend. When I appear at the gate, the pony raises her head and pricks her ears and makes a low, humming whicker, and that is worth more than diamonds.

Red gets no work today, just love. We stand together for a while, looking out into the light. She rests her noble head on my shoulder, and I stroke her dear face, and chat to her for a bit. I think of the thing the Buddhists talk about, of staying still in the moment.

‘This very minute,’ I say to Red, who listens politely, ‘is more important than anything. For this moment, I am quite happy. I must not think of the lost ones, of The Pigeon or The Duchess or my father, because then I shall miss this perfect moment with you.’

Red blows gently through her nostrils, as if she knows all this already.

I say: ‘Of course it’s easier to say than to do.’

But for a moment, I do manage to quiet my antic mind, and concentrate on the pure, undilute pleasure of being at one with a horse in a field, on a clear day, where, just for a second, it feels as if I can see forever.

I race down for breakfast with my mother and stepfather. We discuss the continuing row over Kauto Star going for dressage, and the now very public spat between Clive Smith and Paul Nicholls, and how the whole of Twitter is alight with it. I eat bacon and drink coffee black as pitch. The Stepfather, who is not interested in racing, fills out a form from The Dogs’ Trust to sponsor a lost dog.

I take Stanley the Lurcher into their garden for a race around. It is entirely fenced in, so I can let him off the lead and allow him to show his paces. When he runs, he is like a greyhound, his belly low to the ground, his head down, his long legs raking over the grass like Frankel in his pomp. It is a very thrilling sight.

‘Watch that dog go,’ I yell to The Stepfather, who watches in admiration.

I go home to my desk, and write this.

The sun comes out. The bare trees are gilded with pink and gold; the remnants of the ice and snow glitter and gleam. I drink more coffee. I think: 12.12.12. is a very splendid day indeed.


Pictures of the morning:

The horses’ field, looking north:

12.12.12. 1

Myfanwy the Pony:

12.12.12. 2

Red the Mare and Autumn the Filly:

12.12.12. 3

When Autumn first arrived, Red did a huge amount of boss mare prancing and leaping, to show who was in charge. She has never been a lead mare before, and she rather overdid it, as if uncertain quite how to play the part. Now, they are sweet friends. Red occasionally gives Autumn a bit of a biff or a bossy pinned ear face, but most of the time they mooch about in perfect harmony.

The sweet dopey face of my lovely girl:

12.12.12. 4

The field with its magnificent tree, facing west:

12.12.12. 5

The herd, with the timber for their new shelter in the background:

12.12.12. 6


12.12.12. 7


12.12.12. 8

My favourite small tree:

12.12.12. 8-001

Sheep, looking east from my mother’s house:

12.12.12. 9

12.12.12. 10

The Stepfather’s excellent shed:

12.12.12. 11

Another view east:

12.12.12. 12

My favourite old iron fence:

12.12.12. 13

The limes:

12.12.12. 14

Stanley the Lurcher, with his good boy face on:

12.12.12. 15

And his sweet flying ear:

12.12.12. 16

Observing the sheep:

12.12.12. 17

More limes:

12.12.12. 18

My plan is to return later in the day, so that every moment of this date may be kept forever. Absurd, I know, but I have a habit of indulging my whims, every so often. It was whim that brought me Red and Myfanwy and Stanley, so it can’t be all bad.


  1. It'll happen again earlier than that, on 1st January 2101 and every 13 months until 2112, but I don't think I'll live to see that either!

  2. Has anyone yet said to Stanley that he has landed with his bum in butter? Well, they should. He has.


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