Friday, 8 August 2014

HELLO HORSEY. Or, the end of a very long week.

2436 words of book. Brain practically fell out of my ear.

HorseBack work.

Ride on the red mare which started so badly that I thought I might as well give up altogether. We have come so far together, and then this. We were grumpy and scratchy and not listening to each other and entirely out of step. What the buggery bollocks is going on? I shouted in my head.

Then we met some children from the local nursery. ‘Would you like to say hello?’ I said, in my special this is my lovely mare who loves children voice. In my special this is my magical girl whose grandsire won the Derby voice.

Two of the small people burst into tears of sheer terror. The red mare did three massive snorts, elegantly spraying summer snot out of her nose. (She does not do well with the pollen.) One of the children was so alarmed she tried to run away.

It really is one of those days, I thought.

But the kind ladies who look after the children were made of sterner stuff. ‘Come and say hello to the horse,’ they said, their voices all reassurance and encouragement. ‘Look at the lovely horse.’

And then one of the very small children saved the day. She drew herself to her full height, which was about three foot, pointed in triumph, beamed all over her dear little face, and shouted: ‘HORSEY!!!!’

Well, there’s the herd leader and no mistake, I thought. All the other children looked very contemplative and stopped crying as if someone had thrown a switch. They approached, their fear forgotten, expressions of fascination and wonder on their faces. The mare dropped her head and stood very still and blinked her eyes as they stroked her and breathed gently through her velvet nostrils.

‘I wish my horse would stand this still,’ said one of the ladies. She did not know it, but she just mended all the scratchiness with which Red and I had set out. She had given me the silver challenge cup.

Eventually, we said goodbye.

‘GOODBYE HORSEY!!!!!’ the children bawled, hilariously, all trepidation behind them. They waved their small hands at the mare, with little fluttering motions. The red mare nodded her sage head in acknowledgement.

And then, out in the open green spaces, whilst the swallows practised their low flying, getting ready for their great journey to Africa, we found a canter of lightness and ease and effortlessness, and we were in harmony again, and we floated over the emerald turf, and I laughed and laughed and laughed with joy.

I still don’t know where the out of kilter moments come from. I know it is me, not her. She does not conform to many thoroughbred stereotypes, but she is very sensitive. I am pushing up against my deadline and there is the usual rising panic. However much I try to switch that off, she perhaps does sense it. She knows nothing of publishing. If she feels tension in her human, she can only assume it is because there are mountain lions in the woods, in which case cantering about in circles would be fatal. She is possibly being insanely logical.

The kindness of those strangers - the tiny beaming children, the smiling sympathetic ladies – took the tension away. I could feel the air on my face and see the swallows. And that was when everything fell into place.

I think now, as I write: you can’t fool a horse.

Then, after I got to my desk and wrote all those words and did my final HorseBack stint of the week, I embarked on a labour of love. I edited and posted fifty photographs of the Younger Niece’s 21st birthday weekend. I’d already put up quite a lot of pictures, but they can’t get enough snaps, the young people, and I knew that they were waiting for them. Again, I stopped thinking about stupid old work and my idiot career, and did something that mattered. I cut and cropped and beefed up the contrast and threw things into black and white and all sorts. Since my photographic skills are most basic, I often compensate by doing special effects, and sometimes the result is oddly charming, even if technically tragic. I played about and let rip and stopped thinking about correctness; I embraced the imperfection of the composition and my bizarre inability to focus and saw only the happiness and affection shining out of those youthful faces. Come on, I thought to myself; it’s Friday. Let’s make the young people smile.

And that has finished me off for the week. Now I’m going to sit very, very still, in a silent room.


Just time for a couple of pictures from the last week:

8 Aug 1

8 Aug 2

And a few of the ones I put in the birthday album:





She is a very, very lovely girl, and she has some absolutely enchanting friends, and there was a huge amount of sweetness and love flying about in the Scottish air. She is all the things I admire in a human: kind, unspoilt, enthusiastic, funny, open-hearted, open-minded, appreciative, bright, enquiring, and entirely her own sweet self. She does not follow fads or fashion, but listens keenly to her idiosyncratic little drummer. I am really glad that she had a fine party, because she truly deserved it.

I’m very lucky to have her.

Have to go now. Stanley the Dog is having a bluebottle emergency upstairs.


  1. What a super nice (and unique) birthday present for your niece!!!

    My three sisters & I just finished going through the last boxes of photos our mother is giving away...the moments captured, the memories we recalled....priceless!

  2. Oh the pictures of your niece and her friends - just so lovely and fresh. I loved reading this; I enjoy how you describe children, so very accurate. I can just imagine them. And as for Red and Stanley, they are the stuff of horsey and doggy dreams. L x


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