Sunday, 30 June 2013

Look, Look.

‘Look, look,’ I cry to the Horse Talker, like an eager six-year-old child. ‘Watch this.’

She kindly watches.

I break into a run. Red trots gently by my side. I slow to a walk. She at once walks. I run again; she trots. I walk, she walks. I stop, she stops.


The answer can only be yes. The Horse Talker sweetly supplies it.

I very rarely use the Universal We. It drives me nuts, most of the time, especially when it comes to women. We, say ladies on the radiophonic device, or in the magazines, or in the newspapers, all want X and Y and a bit of Z. What We want is often negative: to banish wrinkles, lose six pounds, get rid of cellulite.

Bugger off, I shout; I don’t want any of those things. I may have ovaries, but I have no interest in diets or shoes. Don’t tell me what I want; we have not even met.

But I dare to venture that We, as humans, almost all have a little voice in us which says: Look, look. Watch this. And what interests me is the things we choose to shout about. It may be: look, look, I can write a thesis, or make a million pounds, or drive a shiny car. It may be: I can make a garden or write a sonnet or do fascinating things with an old Fairy liquid bottle and some sticky-back plastic. (Or, in that case: look what I can do with nostalgic Blue Peter references.)

I suspect that possibly the road to inner peace leads to the quiet prairie of not having to prove oneself. Perhaps really, We should all try to get past the Look, Look voice. It is a form of pride and showing off, really. But on the other hand, it is very human. Someone said to me the other day that she thought life could be boiled down to needing three As: affirmation, affection and attention. The most generous thing you can give to a person is your time. You can watch, you can pay attention; you can be a witness.

For some reason, I quite like the fact that my current Look, Look involves something so basic that it would never make a YouTube hit. The other day, I watched a video on the internet of a young New Zealand woman putting a horse into counter canter without a saddle or a bridle. It was skill of a dazzling degree, and so natural and relaxed that it made me gasp.

I have to accept that I shall never be able to do that, just as I shall never be able to play a Mozart sonata, or sing like Nina Simone, for all my private efforts in the kitchen with only Stanley the Dog to hear. (I can, if the light is coming from the right direction, get a little blues break into my voice, and when that happens I flush with idiot pride.)

Yesterday, I did another kind of Look, Look. I had a two pound bet on four horses. My old dad loved nothing more than an accumulator and I do one pretty much every day, for fun, for the challenge, for the memory of the auld fella. I imagine him laughing his head off in the great William Hill in the sky.

My four lovely horses won. The bet paid £207.96. I was beside myself. I took at once to Twitter, to tell everyone. Well done, my racing posse said kindly; you deserve it, they tweeted, generously. Then I felt slightly ashamed. I metaphorically cleared my throat and shuffled my shoes. Of course, I wrote, I don’t tell you all about my utter catastrophes. I was incredibly proud, and flushed with the thrill of the thing, but then I felt a bit bogus, boasting about it.

I’m not quite sure what the point of all this is. I did have a good point, when I started. I like to tell you small stories which have a moral to them. I like to dig out the life lessons, over and over, to remind myself. I learn things and then forget them and have to go back, endlessly, to the beginning.

I think perhaps the point was something about the small things, my enduring theme. I think it was that there will always be a bit of Look, Look, and even though I would love to be able to do complicated steps and championship manoeuvres, I rather like it that my current totem of utter achievement is that my horse and I may move in harmony. It’s not fancy, but it’s real.


Today’s pictures:

Are of the past week:

30 June 1 28-06-2013 10-35-40

30 June 2 26-06-2013 11-26-32

30 June 4 25-06-2013 15-56-20

30 June 6 21-06-2013 11-28-18

30 June 6 21-06-2013 11-31-19

30 June 7 21-06-2013 11-30-37

30 June 7 21-06-2013 11-30-51

30 June 9 25-06-2013 14-48-24

30 June 10 25-06-2013 14-45-04

30 June 12 24-06-2013 10-54-20

Ha. Just as I was about to send this, an email dropped into my inbox, from one of my various Google Alerts. It was from CNN. CNN, without fear or favour, was asking the big questions this morning. Are women foolish to love stilettos? it wanted to know. Talk about the utter idiocy of the universal we. There are about eight-seven things wrong with that question. I almost jumped onto the highest of my high horses, ready to gallop off in all directions. Then I thought: it’s a Sunday. The birds are singing. Stanley the Dog is stalking a fly in the next room, amusing himself mightily. I put the horse away. I laughed, instead.


  1. "It's real" and "I laughed instead". Yes, these are the answers.

  2. In my time I have written sonnets, sung Mozart arias, painted rather competent watercolours, decorated several houses and made three or four gardens in different counties, not always on the easiest of ground. I am pleased with all of them, and been admired for all of them. I like to strive and have something to show for it. I like to look at my achievements, on my own or with others, and be glad I made the effort, for now there is something where once there was not.

    But my biggest LOOK LOOK is my daughter. Even now, more than 32 years since I made her in my tummy (wot is magic), I am stunned by how well she came out. But at least half the credit for that is down to her herself. I can be proud of her and proud for her, and it's just lovely.

    1. What you wrote here so resonates with me and how I feel about my 32-year-old daughter. Thank you.

    2. 1981 must have been a good vintage, Diane

  3. I think the "look, look" issue relates back to that old standard "if a tree falls in the woods and there's no one there to witness it, does it make a sound?". We (there I go) none of us want to live a life unwitnessed - we feel like our sounds have to be heard to be "real". Maybe? Then again, I've always been one who talked to the trees, so I've never really felt alone.

    As for sharing "look, look" moments, I've found it hard to find people who are truly, genuinely happy for anyone else's triumphs. The same people who will come home from a cruise holiday (the same one they take every year) and recount every excruciating detail of how much they drank, how awful the food was, etc., will walk off after half a sentence of my reminiscence of a vacation to Scotland, or Maine... so many people only want to hear the sound of their own voice. They have no interest in sharing the triumphs of others.

    I actually enjoy hearing about your triumphs. Your winning money on a race. Your breakthroughs with Red. Your fabulous photos. So know that you can always find an appreciative audience for your "look, look" moments here.

  4. A most beautiful post about the small things, and about those who have the skill and interest in other's look-look moments. It is a skill that I strive for, but often fail at....liking too much the sound of my own voice and my story. Thanks for putting all this into beautiful words.

  5. Seemed to me your celebrating your gambling winnings was just you punching the air. Unfettered childlike glee. A rare collision of victories after months of the usual disappointments. Most gamblers tend to plough a lone furrow and, if anything like me, aren't surrounded by other people who "get it".

    So it's great to find a small bunch of like-minded mates or a large bunch of Twitter-mates, who understand your joy, and even celebrate it with you - though only if they haven't had too bad a day themselves...

  6. An acca is always a triumph against the odds. Well done.

  7. I LOVE hearing about others' "triumphs" -- large, small, everything in between. I feel happy and it/ they give me hope.

    I continue to be -- I believe gobsmacked is a fitting adjective here -- at your betting successes. As I've said before, I couldn't pick a winner even if there was only one horse in the race!


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