Wednesday, 28 August 2013

In which I did not intend to write about the news.

The day goes:

Red the Mare, breakfast with The Mother, where Stanley the Dog and Edward the Puppy wrestle and play and fall more in love by the moment, HorseBack work, sweet interlude with the Younger Niece. Goodness, she does make me laugh. 1245 words of book. One small bet at Worcester. (It won.) Rather amazingly, LOBSTER for lunch. The local fishmonger has it on special offer and it’s cheap as chips, fresh off their own boat, and so delicious I don’t know what my name is. Lobster here normally is shipped off to Spain and France: they are eating our crustaceans in the Alfonso XIII and the George V. Rather a lot of Mozart. (Good for the thinking parts of the brain.) The usual amount of procrastination. I have two horrid pieces of admin which my recalcitrant brain absolutely refuses to deal with.

I think about the news. It is dark and fraught. When I started this blog, I had a lot to say about the events of the day. I liked to think of myself as an engaged and concerned citizen. Now, there is hardly time for the news: the work at HorseBack, the day job, the mare, the family, the dear canine take all my hours.

But I sometimes think that is a bit of an excuse. I catch fleeting glimpses of the horrors in Syria and turn my head away. I can’t really deal with it. The opinionated people all have their stern opinions; they are very sure of the things they are so sure of. I used to be a liberal hawk. How soothing that was. Of course the West must march in and create happy democracies where women and minorities may be free. What an idiot I was. Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arab Spring showed the labyrinthine impossibilities of any such simple solutions.

I know a lovely man who is employed as a top political operative with responsibility for advising on the Middle East. He is as clever and thoughtful and nuanced as anyone I know. He has fought bravely and well in battle. He has all the credentials one could wish. He said to me, not long ago, quietly, ruefully, a tinge of despair in his voice: ‘there is no solution to the Middle East.’ I’m not sure how many people in Britain can even imagine the tribal complexities and religious convolutions that obtain there. All I know is that innocent people in Syria are dying hideous and needless deaths, and no amount of sabre-rattling or summits or presidential telephone calls or recalling of parliament can make much difference.

Funny, I was really not going to write about that. I was just going to give you a quick canter through my own, tiny day, and put up a dog picture or two. But I caught the news headlines, and it made me think of the vast spaces of impossibility with which the ordinary brain is faced, as the global events are beamed hourly at ordinary citizens from radio sets and television screens and the winding trails of the internet. What can one person do, when the world swings crazily to hell and back?

That is why I cling to the smallest of small things, or I should run mad. It’s not just the love and the trees, although those are important, to quiet a frenzied mind. One individual might not to be able to save the world, but a single human can give and receive love and that’s not nothing. It’s also, perhaps more importantly, the work I do up the road. HorseBack itself is only a small charity, although I suspect it shall grow, and the model may be replicated. At the moment, each year, it takes a limited number of injured servicemen and women, and veterans fighting their lonely battle with PTSD. But it touches actual lives, ones which may have seemed shattered almost beyond repair, and gives hope. So, I can’t solve Syria, any more than the best brains of their generation can, but I can make my own small contribution to that proper cause. Even so, it feels a little paltry. But I think it has to be enough.


Today’s pictures, of some of my small things:

28 Aug 1

28 Aug 2

28 Aug 3

28 Aug 5

28 Aug 6

28 Aug 8

28 Aug 10

28 Aug 11

Pose and Momo

28 Aug 20

Two damn typos yesterday. How polite you were not to point those out, and laugh and mock. I have a horrible feeling there might be more today. Never, ever, enough time, especially not for proper proof-reading. I know I say that imperfection must be embraced, but there are limits. So, usual apologies for potentially flawed prose.


  1. Syria makes us helpless. I cannot help but feel that 'necessary measures' whatever they may turn out to be, do not alter that. As you say, sabres may be rattled, resolutions and phone calls made, but being seen to do the 'right thing' does not make the thing right.

    What do we know of the situation really? So complex. And yet we see that people suffer and die and that is of course wrong. But right is much less straightforward, nuanced even, surely.

    I even hesitate to use question marks, for there are no answers, but men of action cannot abide that kind of thing. Something must be done, the world cannot stand by are the soundbites that issue forth. I saw a terrible retweet earlier from a Syrian woman who said something along the lines of they simply wait to see what the west will do to what remains of Syria.

  2. It's the 50th anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King's amazing, inspiring "I have a dream" speech. They're playing it all over the (Flemish) Belgian news. It's being reprinted and/ or "You Tube-d" on Facebook.
    It still gives me hope.

  3. I think what you do for Horseback is really important. (The poet Adrienne Rich, who was politically radical, used to say that all you could do was what was humanly possible). And for most of us that is not very much -given the pressures we are all under to just keep our own lives afloat. So doing one thing is actually pretty huge. When you write of the beauty of small things, you remind us how lucky we are to have time and freedom to appreciate those things and that's really important too.

    We have so much access to information, it's as if there is a pressure that we can or should somehow influence events, but for most of us that just isn't humanly possible. And that includes the politicians. Personally, I have no idea whether we should intervene or not in Syria. And I am grateful that I don't have to decide, to be honest.

    Lovely post. Lovely pictures. All that green... Rachel

  4. I feel the same way about politics, and news in general. There's something about the news that makes us feel like we're somehow personally responsible for the choices other people in other countries make. As an American, I'm all for helping those WHO WANT HELP.... but no one is coming over to my house and volunteering to help me solve my life's problems. And I wouldn't want them to, without an invitation.

    I'm not so sure we should be made to feel as though other people's problems are our own. Yes, yes - I feel awful for the civilian innocents that get caught up in the maelstrom and pay the price for it. Of course I do. But, as you pointed out, there's not a damn thing that you or I can do to change what other countries' governments are doing. And it causes a great deal of heartache and guilt and depression to keep soaking my face in it, day in, day out, as the news on radio and TV would have me do.

    I firmly believe that if every person would just tend to his or her own heart, and do what is right, without worrying about what someone else is doing, the whole world would be a happy place. Everyone knows what is right, some just choose not to do it. And then others suffer. This is how it is.

    The people with the most power and the most money have the greatest capability to make others suffer. This is how it is.

    I am a small person with no power and hardly any money, so I am just going to live my life as best I can, and make every choice based on my own heart and what I know is right. When I am able to reach out and help another human being, I will. This is how it is.

    P.S. I have a horse-related question. It's in the latest post on my blog. Stop over if you have a moment and "neigh in". 8-)


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