I had a whole marvellous blog for you today, as special reward for the kindness of yesterday, and for putting up with my slight wail. I generally hate wailing, but the Dear Readers are always so generous and wise and forbearing when I do. The least you deserved was something really juicy, after all that.
This was going to have everything: a bit of philosophy, a whole boatload of human condition, a meditation on perfection, an excellent dose of two kinds of perspective, and a quick diversion on Cheltenham. I even managed to mention Lichtenstein.
Then I got half-way through and stopped. It was all wrong. It was laboured and straining for effect and not quite authentic. Bugger that for a game of soldiers, I thought. And then it was four-thirty and the rain was hammering down outside and I was tired after a long and productive day (1032 words of book), and I did not have a Plan B.
Actually, that is not quite true. I did have a Plan B, but I’m not really sure it is fit to go out in public. It’s a dog thing, and it risks sentimentality, which I attempt to avoid, as a rule, but which I find creeping in a bit, as the Christmas season advances.
Turns out, it is all I have for you.
You might like a nip of brandy first.
Stanley the Dog, as some of you know, came to me as a rescue. The poor fellow has been sent to the Many Tears Rescue centre twice in his life, and one of the best things I ever did was drive him home to Scotland. Bearing in mind his chequered history, I was on the look-out for sadness, or nerves, or anxieties, or other abandonment issues. In fact, he is a marvellously composed dog, happy and responsive and eager. He even does little comedic turns (hurling himself on his back with all four feet in the air; chasing his tail; playing little pouncing games with his ball).
As I mapped his character, I concluded that he was quite an independent dog. He does not generally come for love, but settles himself quietly at a distance, happy in his own space. I rather admired this, although there might have been a small, secret part of my heart which missed the soft closeness of The Pigeon, who followed me from room to room, and dozed in the evenings with her noble head on my hip, as we sat together on the sofa.
Last night, I gave myself a special Christmas treat of a glass of Brouilly and a box set of The West Wing. I must know half the episodes by heart, but, apart from watching re-runs of Kauto Star winning his fifth King George, it is my happiest and geekiest pleasure. I get political process and liberal dreams; it is very heaven.
Stanley, as usual, curled himself up on the end of the sofa, not especially interested in congressional minutiae. I concentrated luxuriantly on the glorious acting skills of Martin Sheen, of which I never tire.
Suddenly, there was a shift and a rustle, and the long, lean dog turned, stretched himself out, and buried his head under my left arm, his whole body pressed up against me. And so we sat, together, breathing in time, until it was the hour for bed. It was so keenly sweet, so profoundly touching, that I was reluctant to move and break the spell.
It seems that Stanley the Dog would quite like the love, after all. I think he was just waiting until he felt confident enough that it would be given, and that he would not be sent away again. I think - and this is the schmaltzy part, so hold on to your hats - that he really, finally knows that he has come home.
And that, my darlings, is worth more than emeralds. That, right there, is my best Christmas present of all.
No pictures from today, as the rain poured out of a dirty sky from dawn till dusk. It is still hammering at the window as I write. I bless the fact that some very smart new waterproof rugs arrived for the horses, so they are cosy as toast, covered up to their dear ears. (There are people who are very proud of letting their horses go natural and naked in all weathers, and I salute them. But Red and I are not nearly butch enough for that. I did once experiment with leaving her bare in the rain, and it was like the Princess and the Pea. I’m not risking that again.) So here are a few snaps of the Lovely Ones, and my favourite leaves, and the hill:
The Dear Departeds:
My lovely gentleman is sleeping by my side as I finish this, dozing happily on his sheepskin, still and peaceful as the weather beats down outside and the wind whistles at the eaves.
I keep meaning to write a whole blog on the marvellous organisation which gave him to me, but, in the meantime, if you ever want to rescue a dog, I cannot recommend Many Tears more. You can find them here: