The point about this blog, if there is a point, is that it is supposed to be about the prose. If I can give you some good words, some dancing sentences, then my work is done. The photographs are a mere illustration: this is what it looks like. My poor old camera is on its last legs. It actually has ingrained mud around the controls, from where it fell crashing to the ground when I took it out one day whilst riding Red. It has never really been the same since. And photography is not my talent; I am the most bumbling of amateurs. (Sometimes, I get a bit cocky if a shot comes out well; for a moment, I have a little swagger and think I’m all that. Then I see a proper picture by a proper pro, and I am chastened and put back into my correct place.)
But today I’ve come to the end of a very long week, and there are no sentences left. So I thought I’d give you a feeling rather than a prose explication. Today, the pictures are the thing. They show the feeling of the day – glimmering sun, the first suggestions of autumn, a falling peace, the utter, streaming loveliness of watching a red thoroughbred duchess take her ease in the wild places.
I did something today which I always mean to do, and which I sometimes forget. I admitted a weakness. Always admit your weaknesses, the sensible voice in my head constantly instructs. But there is a gap between the good voice in the head and the actual living of life. My weaknesses sometimes frighten me, and I have a tendency to keep them secret. Do a tap dance instead, says the fearful voice, which does not wish to be vulnerable. Divert them with a show tune. Misdirection, says the fearful voice – look, look, point them over here, where they may see mightiness and facility. (Tell them about the winning bets, says the Mr William Hill voice; don’t mention the losing streaks.)
The lovely thing about admitting weaknesses is that very rarely do the recipients laugh and point, as the fearful voices suspect they will. This one merely nodded and took it on the chin and appeared to think no less of me. I walked away feeling a spiralling, giddy sense of liberation.
And now, I’m going to do something very naughty. I’ve got most of what I should do done. I’m going to say sod ‘em if they can’t take a joke, and give myself the rest of the day off. I’m going to watch the racing from Newbury and Ayr and Listowel, and glory in the sheer beauty of the racing thoroughbred, which thrills my heart like almost nothing else. I’m hardly going to have a bet, because it’s a funny time of the season and the ground is soft and anything can happen. (Good decision, as it turns out, since a 33-1 shot has just won the 1.50.) There is a promising youngster on whom I am very sweet called Red Galileo at Newbury this afternoon. But mostly, I’m just going to watch the glorious show and feel lucky. It’s like iron tonic for me, and I shall gather myself and get my stamina back, and write many thousands of words over the weekend. That is my plan. And I have absolutely no idea why I feel the need to map it out for you, but you are the Dear Readers, and you must know everything.
Have a lovely Friday. I hope the sun is shining on you too.
In the spirit of the admitting of weaknesses, today’s picture of the hill. My newly liberated self, freed from the bashing imperatives of perfectionism, laughs in delight, and cries: it could not matter less. It’s still the beloved old hill, who cares what focus it is in: