Sometimes I open my mouth and absolute buggery bollocks comes out. I say stupid or careless things; I sometimes even say things I don’t really think or mean. I suppose this is the human condition. I assume that almost everyone except the Dalai Lama does this. But it is one of the flaws I really dislike in myself.
I can’t remember whether I told you or not, but I read something brilliant on the internet the other day. One of the things I like about the internet is that it does carry a lot of wisdom with it. It has a lot of pablum and platitude too, and far too many puppy pictures, even for me, but there are some shining true things. This one went something like: Before you say anything, consider – Is it useful? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Sometimes I say things which are sheer show-boating. Or things which are pointlessly judgemental. Or things which are self-serving or didactic or unnecessarily Manichean. (Which is odd, because really I believe that most of life is made of shades of grey. Apart from the odd Categorical Imperative.) Sometimes, despite the fact that my polite mother brought me up never to make personal remarks, I make personal remarks.
Of course, one cannot be a perfect pattern citizen at all times. Human frailty cannot be wished away, however strong the wish. But the older I get, the more I think words matter. What is behind the words matters too. Implications matter; dog whistles matter; the thing between the lines matters.
The other day, I read something by Nigel Farage. (I insist on my reading being broad; I purposely get the New Statesman and the Speccie, so I can see what Left and Right are saying. I sometimes have to grit my teeth a bit when I wade through someone whose every word causes my brain to explode, but it must be done.)
Anyway, Mr Farage said he had been out campaigning. It was just before the local elections. He said that in one street, every third person he met could not speak English. He did not elaborate on this, but just let it lie there. Those words could be taken as a simple statement of fact, although I am not convinced of the empiricism of his observation and would like to see his working. But of course they were not a plain statement of fact at all. The unmistakable implication was that dear old Blighty is being over-run by foreigners, pesky immigrants who don’t even have the courtesy to learn the language. There was something bald and unkind in that statement and I wished he had not made it.
The trouble is that if one is constantly policing one’s words, dullness is the only end. To be guarded might be polite, but it means no more jokes and no more irony and no more flashes of the unexpected. I can’t put a border patrol on my mouth; every syllable cannot have its passport stamped.
But I like that idea I found, running around on the steppes of the interweb. I shall still make rash statements and idiotic non-sequiturs; I shall still dash off on tangents and talk bollocks. Nobody’s perfect. But I’m going to bear in mind those three questions. Is it useful? It is necessary? And, most of all – Is it kind?
I have never seen so many dandelions as we have this year. This is sheer bounty for me, as dandelions are one of the best tonics in the world for horses. I am going to harvest them and take them to the herd:
The very splendid sheep:
The Remarkable Trainer riding Red the Mare yesterday. Red goes beautifully now in nothing more than her rope halter; willing and responsive, with no wild thought in her head. Afterwards, I got on and rode her without irons and, for a little bit, without reins. Who would have thought such a thing possible a year ago? I am so proud of her I could burst:
Stan the Man, who is being very sweet and bouncy and jolly and affectionate at the moment. He is learning that he need not jump at the horses (he cannot quite decide if they are slightly alarming things to play with or alien creatures to be rounded up) and today, even gave Autumn the Filly a very gentlemanly little lick on her nose:
See how bosky everything suddenly is? The trees seem to have come into leaf almost overnight. This is what it looked like only last week: