Ha. It turns out we do not need Miss Marple after all. The Dear Readers are on the case of The Mysterious Incident. One of them, to my delight, turns out to be an ex-copper and has put her considerable forensic and analytical skills to work. She concludes that a possible explanation may be rogue deer.
‘Oh, yes,’ I say out loud, as I read the clever comment. At once, this makes the most sense of all the crackpot theories that are jostling in my brain. My current favourite was that a psycho rambler, who, furious that I have put up a fenced paddock in the middle of the old rambler’s route up into the hills, which is rudely not marked on any Ordnance Survey map, had come in the night to wreak his revenges. You can see why I never applied to the police force.
This makes me think of the shining marvellousness of the Dear Readers. When I started this blog, I wanted to make my book go viral, build a brand, make some commercial hay. It was a hard-nosed business decision. Of course, none of that happened. I built a small readership, but nothing like enough to have any effect on sales.
I did, even so, for a long time become obsessed with numbers. All the graphs did go reassuringly upwards, and I checked them mercilessly and castigated myself if I ever suffered a little dip. I was always racing to the internet to see how many views I had received and comments I had got. If there were fewer than the day before, I felt quite awful.
Then, as HorseBack came into my life, and my working day became chewed up by trying to fit in volunteering and day job and mare and family and dog and exigencies of ordinary existence, I, without even meaning to, just stopped looking at the figures. The last I looked, a few months ago, the graphs had gone down a bit, probably because the blog has become more inward-looking and less polished and, in an odd way, less needy. When I was busking for custom, I did sometimes get it. Now the thing exists easily, in itself, not trying to gain anything or prove anything or score points. The dear old blog does not mind if the numbers are small. It is just what it is, comfortable in its own skin, operating without fear or favour.
But what is so lovely is it seems, in some serendipitous way, to have found its perfect level. The Dear Readers may not be counted in vast marching battalions, but oh, feel the quality. They can solve mysteries; they fall openly in love with Stanley the Dog. They remember, tenderly, the Pigeon, and allow that my heart still aches for her. They put up with long ramblings about racing, which they do not follow themselves. (Some of them, who have never watched a race in their lives, even turned on the television for Ascot.) They come and wave hello from America and New Zealand and Austria and Sri Lanka, and all points in between.
Perhaps it comes back to my middle-aged obsession with the small things. I do not disdain worldly success, but the profound satisfactions of the heart are now all in the minute, the minuscule, the barely visible. The delicate barometers of Red’s mood and the merest wibble of that famous lip; the flight of Stanley the Dog’s left ear; a particular expression on Myfanwy’s face; the sight of the Scottish light on an old oak tree; the leap of a lamb in the field; these are things which mean the most.
The cohort of the Dear Readers is small, but oh, it is mighty.
And that is my happy thought for the day.
Hardly time for pictures, as I am, as always, racing the damn clock. Here is just a little something on which you may rest your kind eyes: