I am overloaded today, so the blog is rushed. The prose is rather banal and flat, I’m afraid. But I wanted you to have something. Better tomorrow.
A very sweet family day yesterday, as my mother celebrated her 80th birthday. All four children were gathered, which does not happen very often, and the boat was truly and elegantly pushed out. My mum’s smile lit up the room. It was very touching.
As a result of the great birthday, I am behind on my work, and have been galloping about like a crazed thing, trying to fit in HorseBack and the book and the secret project, which may not have to be secret for much longer. It may in fact be a real project, with the stamp of approval from the agent herself. I am humming with terrified excitement. There is hardly time today for the blog, but I wanted to tell you one very quick story.
One of the things which gives me most joy is sponsoring puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I currently have two excellent canines, Dudley and Olivia. Dudley is a very splendid fellow, a big, kind Labrador of ebony black. I’ve watched him go through his training, from novice puppy to full graduate. This morning, I got a letter telling me he was now a working guide dog, with a gentleman in Wales, and that their partnership has turned out to be a dazzling success. I must admit I felt as proud as if I had trained Dudley myself.
I am intensely moved by all manner of service dogs. Humans going into war or policework or the caring professions are impressive enough, but they have abstract thought and free will. The dogs have neither of those things, which makes the loyalty and dedication they show even more remarkable, in my eyes. That’s why I sponsor these puppies, as a small way of showing my admiration. It easily the most satisfying amount of pounds that I spend every month.
My own beautiful Stanley is not a service dog. He is a crazy rescue lurcher, wild as the wind, far too busy barking at bees, chasing rabbits and getting freaked out by bluebottles to concentrate on a higher calling. But every morning he does a little bit of service of his very own.
Each day, we go and have breakfast with the mother and the lovely stepfather. My mum has osteoporosis, a hideous ailment which leaves her in fairly constant pain. Anyone with daily pain knows how draining and debilitating it can be. Stanley the Dog absolutely loves her. Every morning, he bounds in, alive with the joys of spring, races round the house in a frenzy of delight, and then settles at my mother’s side with his chin on her knee and his eyes cast up adoringly at her face. Every morning, in his goofy, sweet way, he makes her smile. He may not be guiding the blind or sniffing out explosives in Afghanistan, but he still adds to the sum total of human happiness with his own private offering.
Here is a tiny snapshot of Dudley in his new job. I’m afraid I could not make it any bigger. But you can see the goodness:
And here is my own little hero:
He does get a bit long-suffering when I make him pose for the camera. Along with the expression of nobility on his face, you can clearly see that he is thinking – how much longer is the old girl going to ponce about with that idiot contraption of hers?
And finally, it was a very splendid morning at HorseBack UK. We have with us wounded servicemen from 40 Commando, all at various stages in their recovery. I am generally very, very happy when surrounded by Marines. Even happier was the sight of Polly the Cob, who is both a rescue and a service horse, graduating to her first full ridden course. She was immaculate: