Wednesday, 20 March 2013

On the road.

An early start for the winding drive to Tebay. I take the long way round, since I can’t do motorways during the week. It takes hours, but I get to see enchanting, unexpected parts of England.

The budget zooms in and out of my consciousness. It’s good, it’s bad; it helps, it doesn’t. The economists argue as I drive past the folded, faded hills of Cumbria with their pretty dusting of white.

I think of my horse, patiently waiting for me, in her snowy field.

I miss, suddenly, violently, my two old ladies. They came with me so many times to Tebay, and were so beloved here, and as I walk down the calm corridor to my room, I see two black ghosts running ahead of me, with all their goodness and eagerness and sweetness. They were such generous, friendly, elegant dogs. I suppose they shall always leave a stinging gap in my heart.

I think of my dad too. He is with me a lot, at the moment.

I think that even though I yearn for home like a pain in my chest, I shall have to turn round almost at once and come back. I wish I were a better traveller. Someone got properly impatient with me about even speaking of such an insignificant journey, but I can’t help it, I find two legs of 260 miles on crowded roads really enervating.

So I suppose I’m a bit tired and doleful today, what with one thing and another. It will pass. I shall see the dear faces of home tomorrow morning; I shall see the glorious hills. I miss the hills almost as much as I miss the creatures, when I am away. The slings and arrows shall be forgotten. I shall take my iron tonic and butch up.

20 March 1


  1. Yes, as the Yoof of Today put it, you may need to grow a pair.

    I think - because I am quite a bit older than you, and anyway, I want to so I can - I should sound a word of caution not to put anything onto the interent, not even your own FB page, that you wouldn't say loudly in a public bar, with a wide cross section of society within earshot.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, such as what you said earlier about the Budget on FB, but those opinions, once expressed, can offend, be argued with, refuted, objected to or despised with an equal sense of entitlement from the hearers and responders.

    And as for grieving for your losses, please do consider seeing a grief counsellor (Cruse offer them, as a charitable service, and not just for widows) rather than wearing your heart SO on your sleeve on here. This isn't your private personal diary. You leave yourself open and vulnerable by expressing your despondency so freely. You cannot be sure that only pleasantries and support will come your way just because you are (mostly) so goddamn nice.

    The internet is not the nursery, and we have no kind old dear admonishing that "if you can't find anyhting nice to say, say nothing". Other people can have bad days, some have had bad months or years, or even - on balance - alarmingly atrocious lifetimes. This is not a chorus of approval. All human life is here.

  2. ..Goldenoldlady, good comments and succinctly put ... I am not one to disagree with people I don't know so I won't start here. I am not a great interneter and only follow one blog which I find refreshing in its honesty, sincerety (bugger that word always gets me) and coherence ... My point is in light of what you say, the old adage 'publish, and be damned, and be damned if you don't' ... To have the courage of our convictions and to be open and honest is a rare trait in this age and we should not fear the consequences ... We all have, and are entitled to, opinions and ,perhaps,foolishly I respect those of others .... do I expect them to respect mine ? I'm witttering now but you get my drift. Thanks to Tania for her daily ray !!!

  3. I love Tania's writing, I truly honestly do, and when she was first touched by her losses I was one of many whose eyes welled up, especially when she so bravely let The Pigeon go. But I still feel a certain guardedness might be judicious. A confessional needs a kind and experienced listener, and that does not describe 100% of internet users at ALL. A proper trained bereavement counsellor might help her better.

    Words once out there cannot be recalled. Tania is not anonymous, she is a public figure, a published author, a professional writer. She places herself at risk of being tackled if she puts a single foot wrong, and if she thinks she needs to butch up and take her iron tonic, as she says, then I think she knows she isn't quite the "publish and be damned" robust type that usually declaims that sort of defiance.

    When I have been struggling with the big life stuff like loss, grief, sorrow, bitter disappointment, serious illness, a disintigrating marriage I have found it very therapeutic to write, but it was never with the idea that anyone but myself would read it. Years later, when I was through it all, I even destoyed those often quite harrowing journals so my daughter could not find them after I died.

    And when I have typed and posted anything as rawly frank as Tania sometimes does I usually regret it soon after and take it down. It needs to be got out, for sure, but does it need to be in a public domain for all and any to read, maybe even judge? Or even ignored completely? Or to arouse in the others the decision that perhaps they will feel their convictions just have to be expressed as well!

  4. Goldenoldenlady, your 'advice' has the sub-acid quality of a step-mother in a fairy tale. All it lacks is the outstretched hand, the plump, red apple and the dark, expectant chords of a Disney soundtrack.

    How true it is that we can never write so much as a shopping list without revealing ourselves somehow. Did you really think that no one would spot the mischief at its heart; the intention to wound, to diminish, to control?

    The giveaway, of course, is the phrase 'goddamn nice.' It's almost impossible to replicate those words without a brace of agonizingly clenched teeth.

    Allow ME to offer you a little wisdom about revealing yourself on the internet. Take care. Even when we convince ourselves that we are the very soul of kindness, our words will advertise our true intentions. Always.

    Your concern for Tania is not concern at all. You speak about her grief, not to help her but to shame her somehow. To rebuke her. I don't know what precisely is behind your action, but it seems to me to possess something of the quality of envy.

    You can 'refute, object to and despise' that all you like. I won't be entering into a correspondence. I spotted something I didn't like on here tonight, and now, having pointed it out, I will return to my customary silence.

    The Playwright.

  5. Goldenoldlady -

    Beside the tone of your first comment which speaks for itself, I think your suggestions about grief management are crassly wounding and shamefully patronising.

    They take my breath away.

    You are the exception that confirms Tania's belief in the kindness of strangers.

    1. Well said Cristina....

  6. I feel cross. Our host shares with an open heart and brave spirit. She is not her father hurdling the brush on a horse, but the qualities displayed are the same. I have loved and lost and to pretend that beloved entities, although no longer physically embodied, are not intensely missed at times (and forever more) is a false god. To say so is a truth and I, for one, appreciate the authenticity round these sides.

    Thank you Tania, as Curtis Mayfield said for, 'Keep On, Keeping On.'

  7. I agree with Makemeadiva above. You are valuable in that you write what you feel, both the good and the sorrowful (and there's a lot more of the good!) And you don't Go On about the negative. Hope the journey is tolerable.

  8. PS If you're brave enough to put your head above the parapet I suppose you're bound to get aimed at occasionally! I do hope you don't take any of the deprecating words to heart.

  9. My goodness, that is extraordinary. Here is a stick. It has two ends. Pick it up by one end of it. No not THAT one!

    The purpose of bereavement counselling isn't to end grief prematurely, or squash it or to or cut it back in any way..I cannot understand how anyone would assume it is. It's a safe and entirely confidential outlet, a place to let it all out without others trying to cheer you up or hand you a hanky or pat your back and say there there, all of which are more by way of attempts to end their discomfort than alleviate sorrow. And it was a suggestion, merely. Not a prescription. But if people want to impute ulterior motives and even call it a poisoned apple, then so be it. I have nothing to say to that, as it is so bizarrely out of kilter no amount of looking at it from any angle will put it straight.

  10. Well, I'm going to pull this horseless comment wagon off the trail and leave a comment for you, Tania, that actually relates to this post. You know, just for a change-up. Sheesh!

    I also find that trips away have a sort of sine curve to them. The first days are so "everything is new and different" that I don't get tired, I want to stay up late and get up early, eat and drink and see everything and meet everyone. The last days are enjoyable, but are also taken up planning the return trip and how to pack all the stuff back into bags that were too full to start with.

    But there are always a few "middle days", when you've already done the big events, seen the big sights, had the big parties with friends/family, and before you need to start packing to go home, and the homesickness sets in then. Homesickness, or missing someone far away, even if they don't live anywhere near you. It must be a human reaction to being out of our element, no matter how enjoyable at trip may be, no matter how long we've been looking forward to it. It's kind of like our spirits can take only so much "hip hip hoorah", and they eventually wind down and take stock.

    I had days like you described when I traveled to Scotland, to Ireland, and to Italy. Wonderful trips all, and really once-in-a-lifetime sort of experiences, but each one had "middle days" of introspection, a bit of sadness, malaise of the heart.

    You are not alone.


  11. Dear Tania, two things. I returned home late last night, after a pleasant evening, spent with interesting and thoughtful people but it had been a long day and I was tired and slightly edgy from the tiredness. Nevertheless, I looked at my emails, saw that there was new post from you and read it, as I always do. When it comes to Backward in High Heels, I never delay the gratification. I found myself, as so often when I read your posts, reflecting on your words and thinking 'Yes, that is how it is.' In this case, the tugs at the heart that so often pull at us on long, solo road trips, when it is just us, the car, the road, and whatever we happen to be listening to - or the silence.

    Then I read the first comment and was perplexed and puzzled. I was tempted to wade in but decided to sleep on it to see if my initial reaction changed overnight. It has not. I am with the Playwright.

    I read your blog because of what you write, not in spite of, and the way you write - and because I admire your willingness and ability to go to the core of what it is to be human, to be you, day by day. I can think of no good reason why you should desist or why you should avoid subjects like loss, or grief, or homesickness; after all, you are more than generous in sharing with us, in words and in pictures, what makes your heart sing. Should we wish to read them, we will find any number of blogs that are safe and bland and provide no more than a tepid bath of words.

    As it happens, I was with a group of my writing students yesterday morning and, at their request, ran a session on blogging. One student in particular is thinking about writing a blog that explores aspects of our relationship, as individuals and as families, with companion animals. She was unsure, however, whether people would want to read it. I suggested that she read your blog, as it is such a good example of how to write eloquently and honestly on the subject, not least the more painful aspects of that relationship. 'Read the comments too;' I said. 'you will see how much the writer's words resonate for her readers.,

    Apologies; I realise that I have written about three things, not two, but I wanted to put the thoughts into words while they were still fresh and uppermost; there will be no regrets about pressing the 'publish' button.

  12. I don't think your writing is ever raw, even at its most heartfelt you seem to have an ability to write polished, thoughtful sentences. It means your words go beyond the personal to the universal and it's one of the reasons we all keep reading because when we are facing sadnessess it makes us feel less alone. It is a great gift, so please, please keep on doing what you do. Hope you got home safely and your little band gave you the welcome you deserve, Rachel

  13. I stand corrected and back down completely. Evidently far more people think Tania is doing exactly the right thing (I suppose they mean for herself, not just saying it is good for them, though few have actually made that point) by blogging so uninhibitedly and self-disclosingly about her grief and loss.

    On a blog where she has not chosen the option of anonymity.

    I am the one note of discord. I was trying to focus in my comments on the emotional needs of the writer, not the emotional needs of the Dear Readers, but my tone was jarring to many, if not all, so that fact has been entirely lost along the way.

    I would like to observe though that some commentators, in accusing me of nursing covert nastiness in my evil black heart have subjected me to quite nakedly open and undisguised vituperation, which is ironic, no? A case of escalation, I guess, and an urge to defend someone they care a great deal about and seem to know in real life, some of them. Entirely understandable, and maybe even commendable in its origins, but nevertheless scathing and vicious and evidently occasioned by a need to retaliate.

    Which is the internet at its most internettish, sadly, and which brings me RIGHT back to where I started. Not everyone is or even tries to be as nice as Tania. A thing of which she will be even more aware after the way this thread developed than the unfortunate aspects of social networking that I was originally trying to remind her of, and was asking her to consider guarding herself against a little more.

  14. I too have slept on it and Rachel's well made point about universal truths is part of what I wanted to add before closing. The other thing I have reflected on is the question of when and how the ordinary human experience of life became something that needed sanitising, shuffling away behind closed doors with a comfy chair, a box of tissues and a trained professional. This is not to decry those that do - I have myself when for particular and personal reasons I thought I needed to. The point that was made about how the missing strikes is what resonated with me and that happens to all of us and I see no reason why we should not say as much.

    I miss on the top of crags, down on the shore, on muddy dog walks, on a journey, and to a particular song; when I pour a gin and tonic, if I go to the track, in the supermarket aisle and in the dark small hours.

    And it's alright to say so and it's alright to say so here because that's the kind of space that's been created by good, honest writing. No box of tissues required.

  15. Well, well, well, Goldenoldenlady has exposed herself as none other than Marion Griffin Bulmer ... Yesterday on Facebook she was not only extremely extremely rude to Tania but also some other of her friends. Unfortunately MGB knows very little about Tania's grief or anyone else's problems, she is wrapped up in her own world of spite, anger and shear selfishness.

    I am sorry that Tania has had to put up with all the vitriol from this woman, not only here but also on Facebook.

    I enjoy reading this blog for what it is, I don't read anything into it ... It is merely one young, talented and gifted lady's observation on and on her life. Long may she continue .... Three C's for Tania for keeping a candle burning. Nuff :)

    1. Well that shameful little exercise in Outing cannot be left uncontested, so I will have to respond. But not by upping the ante. Your cloak of anonymity is not going to be lifted by me, oh sniper from the sidelines...

      I was critical of, not rude to Tania. A proper grown-up knows the difference, but there were precious few of those on FB yesterday.

      If I want to object to Tania referring to critics of Osborne (& Little)'s budget as "moaning minnies and cut-price Cassandras", I shall, did and have. I also objected to the overuse of alliteration. And then I defended my position against the tirades of abuse I got from her FB allies and immediately de-friended her so I shouldn't be tempted to carry on flogging the proverbial dead horse and yelling at the cognitively deaf, largely Consevative with an exceedingly large C following that were active yesterday afternoon on her timeline for half an hour or so.

      Has no-one noticed that Tania herself has not responded in type? She is a big girl, she can butch up, as she said herself. She doesn't need a pack of attack dogs!

      Away with you. I know as much about Tania's grief and problems as most people on the internet could find out if they wanted to, and a lot more else besides which is not in her blog, but easy to find on the internet by reading half a dozen entries on Google...

      But enough!

      I was never hidden, just chosing to blog anonymously as many, if not MOST, do. If anyone want to private message me on FB they can, and if it's worth dignifying with an answer, they will get one. I am easy to find. I am the only Marion Griffin Bulmer on FB, so they shouldn't confuse me with anyone else.

  16. i completely get that travel can make you meloncholic, must be something to do with the shift in perspective and the presence of possibility...

    on the thread above, my out-take is that it is indeed lovely that everyone is protective of Tania and her glorious talent for communication. long may her lum reek.

  17. May I just say that the majority of commenters here write pretty well? Wonder if that is because many of Tania's readers are serious about the way words are put down ... that much, I imagine, would please her.

    As nearly everything has been said, I'd just like to add two things. 1) While Goldenoldenlady's words did sound rather harsh to me in her opening comment, let's look at the context. She has not regularly found fault with Tania, so perhaps she deserves the benefit of the doubt as to intent? 2) All of this is a good example of the danger of the internet when one is discussing personal feelings: we see the words, not the expression on the face saying them, and we don't hear the voice. For example, concerned eyes or a dry, ironic tone are lost, and only the stark words remain. It is so hard to tell how someone feels in a case like this, which is why, to me, context is useful.

    This is not to defend or indite Goldenoldenlady; I don't happen to have a dog in that hunt. Tania is tired--okay, she's a big girl. She'll get back on track. She is grieving again--that's okay too. Her essays often are lessons for the common man in how to deal with grief at gut level. Wish I'd read them when I lost those dear to me, because they'd have helped immensely.


    1. The written word is a gift, a part of our souls that are often well hidden behind facial expression, manner or demeanour ... The writings of our great romantic poets are surely that - No one worth posessing can be quite posessed - I fiercely defend the right to write - seduce not the beating heart with the dagger of you hatred -
      Love life, love yourself and extend the hand of friendship and compassion to those you meet and all will be well, take not on the burdens of others, be strong, support, think good thoughts and live with your's and other's happiness ...

  18. And that's me done for now !!

  19. Tania, one of the reasons I love reading your blog is because I recognise your world - even though you live almost exactly on the other side of it from me. Your words resonate with me whether I relate wholeheartedly to what you describe and when I don't (horse racing :)). You write with care, kindness and respect. And I think that's why you attract such loyal readers.

    I read Goldenoldenlady's comment yesterday and felt uneasy as I felt it sounded harsh BUT I didn't think she meant it that way. If it's at all possible to get to know anyone in the comments section then I would hazard a guess and say that her way of suggesting you take care on the big, bad internet came off as direct criticism of your writing. I don't know what went on on FB. I just felt uncomfortable enough to need to think about it before I wrote anything down. To be honest, I think if it had been anyone else there would have been fur flying by now!

    Oh dear, I've gone on when I meant to write a neat little summary. So... I hope your trip home was safe; that your thoughts were resolved and, most importantly, your darling herd gave you a welcome worthy of a long drive.

    Please don't hesitate to post what you write. xx

  20. I read Goldenoldlady's comment, probably soon after it was written and was quite taken aback, to say the least, but decided not to reply, at least till I had slept on it. I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that what she said was meant helpfully but honestly, telling someone they need to 'grow a pair' when they are struggling with their emotions is probably less than helpful. Having been through my share of bad times, it has been an important part of my personal therapy to write about them and sometimes, equally important is to be able to share my thoughts and feelings with a wider audience. We are all different, we react in different ways to what life throws at us and we deal with it in whatever way seems most helpful.
    I cannot for the life of me see anything to be critical of in your post, Tania and I insist very strongly that it must be our right to talk about our fears, anxieties and sorrows, however minor they may seem to some others. As I frequently tell my clients, it doesn't matter how trivial your problem may seem, to you it is important, therefore, it is important and it is inappropriate and unhelpful to make comparisons.

  21. Why has no-one noticed that GL's first sentence is just an echo of T's last one - butch up means the same as grow a pair, doesn't it, In British slang?Am quite confused by all these comments, far more than the usual traffic on here, astonished at the animosity. Must have been a lot of people in bad moods two days ago, Budget Day in the UK (over here in Aus we've had other dramas) must upset a lot of you guys !

  22. Oof! The unpleasantness of the Facebook comments made my mouth drop open. I can only assume that the Golden-woman is having some sort of mental breakdown on the internet. And I'm desperately sorry that one of my favourite writers happened to be in her way when that happened. Ugh - people!

  23. Ozbird, here again, having a late night in mellow Melbourne. and if the original poster has mental helath issues i guess what we now know about the compassion T's facebook friends have for the sick and ill in human society. Or is it only High Society flakiness that attracts it? T's a supporter of soldeirs with PTSD isn't she?. Pwrhaps everone could just pipe down until she wants to type for herself.

  24. I find it interesting that when you write for the Internet (rather than in a book or other paper format), readers often see it as an invitation for advice giving -- sometimes well intentioned, sometimes not, most often a shallow kind of advice, based on misreadings of very incomplete, after all, accounts. I've been a daily blogger for nine years now and I see this again and again.

    But it's not only in the blogging world: everything is up for grabs. Every product, service, creative spark immediately has a commenter's tail, with lots of suggestions on how to make improvements.

    I finally decided that I want control of the story, the spin, the presentation. I want to fashion the tail and the tale. A blog is not a blurted confessional: it is, for most writers a very carefully crafted piece of art. Some of the bloggers' offerings are fantastic, some not so clever, but it is very much their art. In my own blog, I enabled comment moderation. It helps preserve the tone that I want for it. I give an indication as to the tone I'm looking for and invite people to write in that vein. If they choose to write differently, I simply do not publish their words.

    Anyway, as always, I enjoy your story here and I treat it as just that. I very much look forward to the next installment in the same way that readers in previous centuries looked forward the next installment of stories published in the press and periodicals.

  25. Tania, I was starting to worry you might be in a ditch by the side of the road, so I finally checked the comments only to discover that you were, in a sense. Sorry about that. Looking forward to hearing more from you here.

  26. I was feeling the same as Razinah. Glad you got back safely. Hope you're ready to blog again once the dust has settled.

  27. Ditto Razinah and Jane, from the tropics.


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