Monday, 17 December 2012

Nearly Christmas, 1131 words, problems shared; or, I am not sure any of this makes any sense at all.

I feel hilariously unready for Christmas. In my addled brain, it is still a month away. In fact it is NEXT WEEK.

I think about gravy and presents and wrapping and taking vital things to the post office and about eight other absolutes. The rain falls stupidly out of a filthy sky, not helping me to get into any kind of Christmassy mood. I write 1131 furious words of book and think of the insanity of agreeing to a January 3rd deadline.

The book jerks forward in fits and starts. Sometimes I can see the way and all is clarity; at other times, I do not know what I am doing or what I am talking about.

I think: too many things to do. I think: my time management is absolute buggery bollocks.

I think: Must Make a List. (A list will make everything better.)

It is quite gloomy, going down to do the horses in this blasted weather. Dreich does not even cover it. I am grumpy and stumpy and cross. But then there is a little revelation. There is the Horse Talker, who owns Autumn the Filly, and helps me with the herd generally. We have a whole Jack and Mrs Sprat thing going on, because she is shimmeringly brilliant at all the things I hate. It is she who gloriously organises the shed, putting up special hooks and rails, keeping the place immaculate, inventing a perfect spot for everything so that order may reign. It is she who roams the entire county, hunting down the best hay, and she who knows what to do when the water trough is frozen solid.

Logistically, I could perfectly well do a horse and a pony on my own; emotionally, it would be hard sledding. The lovely thing about having someone else there is not so much that duties can be shared, but that joys and delights and frets can be shared.

The moral support is almost more important than practical support. We lean on the fence, discussing each aspect of equine minutiae, overcome with admiration for our mares, fascinated by their tiniest quirks, their shifting moods, the funny things they do, even the expressions on their dear faces. We are capable of discussing rugging decisions for many minutes at a time. My conversation at this point is not exactly the Algonquin Round Table, but I don’t care. In this enchanted space, I can be the biggest horse bore in Scotland, and nobody minds. And of course the main thing is that The Horse Talker loves them all as much as I do, and does not think me an idiot for all that vaunting equine adoration. (She smiles widely when she sees me kissing Red on the muzzle, instead of rolling her eyes to heaven.)

So, this morning, as I grumbled through the murk and the mire, feeling frantic about the eighty-seven things I had to do before breakfast, rueful at my inability to make enough time, I was especially glad to find The Horse Talker at the gate. Suddenly, it was not so bad, after all. We could discuss the sweetness of Myfanwy the Pony, the learning curve of Autumn the Filly, the good calm of Red the Mare, as Stanley the Dog leapt and jumped in front of her, still uncertain if she were friend and foe. (She regards him with faintly exasperated affection, as if he were a slightly tiring relation.) Suddenly, I wasn’t cross any more, but laughing and smiling and making jokes.

I tell you all this because you know I love digging for life lessons, like a pig after truffles, and I think there was one here. My default mode is to do pretty much everything possible on my own. I have a crazed pride in independence and agency, as if I have to prove something, although I have no idea what. I am solitary by nature. I hate to ask for help, as if it is a sign of failure or weakness. All this is absurd and irrational and I really ought to get to the bottom of it. But this morning I realised that some things in life really are an awful lot better if you do them with someone.

Clichés are clichés for a reason; old saws are worn thin with use because they contain a hard nut of truth. A problem shared really is a problem halved. Isolation can be glorious, but it can be gloomy too. If there are two of you, smiling defiantly into the rain, it is that much easier to chase the clouds away. It is lovely to be able to do things on one’s own. But it is just as lovely to know that you do not have to.


No pictures of the day today, since it is too wet to take the camera out. Here is a selection from the past few days:

17 Dec 1

17 Dec 2

17 Dec 3

17 Dec 4

17 Dec 5

17 Dec 7

17 Dec 8-001

17 Dec 9

17 Dec 10-002

17 Dec 10-003

17 Dec 10-004

This is all blurry of the beech avenue, but I quite like the effect, as if it were a painting:

17 Dec 10-001

The Dear Ones -

Autumn the Filly, with a little bit of hay in her ears:

17 Dec 10

Myfanwy the Pony, who, as one of the Dear Readers so astutely pointed out, must surely have had a past career as a model, what with all that posy face she does:

17 Dec 15

17 Dec 16-001

Red the Mare:

17 Dec 17

All together:

17 Dec 11

Stanley the Dog:

17 Dec 16

17 Dec 27


17 Dec 30


  1. Is it that those sheep are enchantingly chubby, or is it that their wool is especially thick? I think we need to be told.

  2. Look at Myfanwy in the group shot ! Adorably alert for a photo opportunity !

  3. i like the one before where that little whisp of hair makes her look almost like a unicorn!


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