Thursday, 5 September 2013

Random thoughts. Or, I have almost no idea what I am talking about.

My mind is filled with thinking. I have, variously, thoughts on: slowing down and the making of a stew, the Special Relationship, reliability, and the things one takes for granted. I wonder: shall I take one out and hold it up to the light, or shall I try and cram them all in?

Oh, cram them all in, shouts my competitive spirit. (Although I have no idea with whom I am competing.)

Slowing down:

Since taking on new responsibilities, I live my life in a rushing dash. I quite often find myself talking to people when I am standing up and they are sitting politely in a chair. It is as if I believe that even stopping to sit will slow me too much. Today, it is suddenly cold and driech. I decided to make a stew. You can’t rush a stew. So instead of the usual hurried ham sandwich in the kitchen, I stayed a while and chopped up carrots and celery and onion and browned the beef and thought about the alchemy of cooking. My midday kitchen moment stretched to almost an hour. Usually, I would regard this as a squandering of time. Today, I thought: it doesn’t really matter. I’ll make it up. It is good to remember about proper food and the care taken in making it. Rushing does not always mean everything is done faster. It just feels that way.

The Special Relationship:

All the pundits are convinced it is over. Crash, bash, shatter goes the historical link between London and Washington, as Mr Cameron loses his Commons vote on Syria. I think this is hyperbolic nonsense. I wonder whether, on a personal level, President Obama might feel more humanly tied to the Prime Minister now. At last, he might be thinking, David Cameron knows what I have to deal with, as recalcitrant congressman and senators filibuster and block and take stupid votes on repealing healthcare reforms. Their late-night chats might now be conducted man to man, rather than office to office. That is just my hunch.

On a wider level, America and Britain have always loved and hated each other. They are like courting teenagers: sudden moments of pash, interspersed with angst and sullen resentment. The right wing always likes to go misty-eyed over Thatcher and Reagan, but the President marched into Grenada with ruthless disregard for Mrs Thatch’s impotent fury. The linguistic and cultural ties run too deep for rupture. The two countries always forgive each other. As long as they send us Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey, and we send them Hugh Laurie in House and Helen Mirren in anything, the love will endure.



I have a new theory on what makes a good horsewoman. I think about this a lot, you may be amazed to hear.

I come to the conclusion that perhaps the most important virtue is reliability. It’s not sexy or flashy or headline-grabbing. But if half of human life is showing up, then so is horse life. You’ve got to put in the hours, be there come rain come shine, make the steady routine. Horses like a good leader, but you’ve got to earn it, from the ground up. Respect and trust can’t be conjured into existence; they take hours and days and months.

Reliability too is not just the pitching up kind, it’s also the consistency of attitude. If they know that you will not shout, will not take out your own frustrations on them, will never ask them to do something they do not know how to do (and then get cross when they don’t do it), they may relax and be happy. They have a steady human on which they may rely. Equines have amazing memories, and they store everything away. So I like my little reliability theory. It will win no gleaming cups or fancy rosettes, but I get profound satisfaction from the idea that Red knows she has a human on whom she may depend.

The things one takes for granted:

Along with the small things, this is one of my themes. I return to themes over and over, like Mr Stanley with his big stick. I refine them and remind myself of them and turn them over in my mind.

Today, I spoke to a veteran who cannot hear the hissing of a bus door closing without wanting to take cover and scan the streets for possible threats. Sometimes he even drops to the ground before he can stop himself. Sudden noises of any kind can bring on a violent anxiety attack. Sound, for most people a given or even an enhancement of life, is for him a trigger and a barrage.

At the same time, my back is still very sore from idiotically falling off that broncing horse last week. (Not Red, for those just joining us; quite another mare.) Things I do easily, without thinking, like getting out of the car or putting on my socks, are suddenly painful and fraught with difficulty. I think: don’t take for granted that I can hear loud bangs with no reaction at all, and that, when I am not falling onto my arse, I can depend on my body to work. I know this sounds very chicken soup for the soul-ish, but I like to write these things down, so I don’t forget.


Today’s pictures:

Are also entirely random, from the last few days:

5 Sept 1

5 Sept 2

5 Sept 2-001

5 Sept 2-002

5 Sept 3

5 Sept 4

5 Sept 5

5 Sept 8

5 Sept 8-001

5 Sept 10

5 Sept 10-001

This is almost the face I love the most, although it is not the most beautiful. Donkey dozy face, and everything about her so relaxed she might fall over. This is when she brings stillness into a high art:

5 Sept 11

5 Sept 11-001

5 Sept 14

5 Sept 17


5 Sept 20

I want to say Happy Friday. But in fact it is Thursday. It feels like a Friday, that is all. No idea why. Be happy anyway.


  1. I am a fool for stacked stone and lovely gates, as much as for reasoned prose. Tell me about the little gate with the pin apparently holding it closed. Why might it be in that place? Is it a gate?

  2. I'll take your Happy Friday, as I'm sitting here facing my Friday morning look-at-what-I-still-have-to-do list.

    Please tell you mother that Edward is just delicious. Really! x

  3. It sure looks gorgeous where you are. I must get back to Scotland one of these days.

  4. Thanks for those words re reliability. It is a greatly under-rated virtue! Thanks for pix too. Is that you sprawled against the horse? Amazing! Hope your back gets better. Rachel


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