I had a whole, big, end of year blog for you, ready to go. It ran around in my head, filled with life wisdom and vital perspective and tremendous observations on the human condition. In the absurd echo chamber of my mazy head, it was an absolute cracker. (Quite frankly, as I think up these things over the brushing of the teeth, I sometimes astonish myself with my own cleverness. Then the flappy wings of hubris falter, and I crash down to earth, as I fail hopelessly to translate the spurious brilliance to the page.)
Then I thought: bugger that for a game of soldiers. What I really need to say today is -
This year has been The Year of the Horse. Some of you may not be quite as entranced and fascinated by the equine mind as I am. You have had to wade through endless adorations of the red mare, long shaggy horse stories, furlong by furlong rehashings of the races which have made me shout and weep. There has been self-indulgence, windiness, and far too much galloping off on tangents. I have teetered on the edge of sentiment, and gazed into the abyss of hyperbole.
And yet, rather like the red mare herself, who sometimes has a look on her face which says Just let the old girl get it out of her system, you have walked kindly and generously beside me. You have left comments of sweetness, funniness and wisdom. You have shown kind hearts, generosity of spirit, and bottomless patience. You have a particularly lovely habit of sharing my triumphs as if they were your own. You also forgive my failings in a quite astonishing way, and bolster me when I feel my frailties.
Perhaps what I love most of all about the dear Dear Readers is that you disprove the easy assumption that the internet is a place of wild intemperance, stupid shouting and general bad manners. I loathe assumptions. I am suspicious of received opinion and I detest intellectual laziness. (I know that sounds very pompous and hard line, but it is true, and this is the place for truth.) As you will know, to your rueful cost, I get furious when people make horrid, ignorant remarks about thoroughbreds in general and ex-racehorses in particular. I love Red the Mare for many reasons – her great beauty, her comedy skills, her intense sweetness, her talent for stillness, her politeness, her cleverness, and her glorious, duchessy sense of self. But one of the things I love the most is that she disproves all those idiot stereotypes with every beat of her heart and every point of her toe.
In the exact same way, I glory in the daily proofs left by the Dear Readers, proofs that the kindness of strangers really is kind, that courtesy may survive in the rush of technology, that the wide spaces of the interwebs may be peopled by the good and true just as much as the bad and meretricious. It is not all narcissism and trolling. It is real and actual and oddly comforting. It may be a place of safety and refuge as much as an unpatrolled wilderness.
Perhaps you do not know quite what it is you do when you type out a quick string of words and leave your comments. It’s just the tap tap tap of fingers on a keyboard, after all. It almost certainly does not take you very long, before you go back to your jobs and your families and your lives. But what you do, in that brief, shining moment, is restore my faith in human nature. Pretty much every damn day. Which is a fairly remarkable thing. And that is why I say thank you.
Looking back on a year is always bittersweet. I know that some of you have had losses and struggles. I know also that you have dealt with them with stoicism and grace. The Dear Departeds stay stitched into battered hearts. I marvel often at the great, gutsy, never-say-die hearts of the thoroughbreds I love so much. I’ve watched many races this year which have been won not on talent or tactics, but raw, cussed, dogged gallantry. The heart takes over from the legs, the head, the everything. But the human heart is a pretty spectacular thing too. It gets bashed and bruised and chipped round the edges. It survives disappointments and alarms and grievous losses. Somehow, against all the odds, it goes on beating. It, like all the things I admire the most, keeps buggering on.
Happy New Year, my darlings. May your champagne be cold and your beloveds be beloved and your hopes be merry and bright.
My Lovely Ones:
Obviously, Red the Mare and Stanley the Dog are animals. They have no English. They do not understand the concept of time. But if they did, they would wish you a very Happy New Year too, because you have spent 2013 saying so, so many lovely things about them. So, you know, a woof and a neigh and a shake of a hoof.
*Official GOING TOO FAR klaxon sounds, and I move quietly to the exit*