Too much to do.
Actually, I had written two blogs for you in my head, before my teeth were even brushed this morning, whilst John Humphreys was still laughing at an interview he especially enjoyed.
I have no memory of what they were. I do recall that they were both damn good.
Then: life happened and the mighty words were wiped away.
Always carry a notebook, I used to tell my writing students; that brilliant thought will dissipate as quickly as breath on glass.
One especially lovely thing happened yesterday. An old friend was staying with my sister. She has been very ill and had a particularly horrid operation, from which her poor body is still recovering. I brought the red mare to see her. The horse went very, very still, as still as I’ve ever seen her. She held out her head to my friend, and stayed motionless as the hand stayed there, like that of an old parish priest blessing the faithful.
I have a theory that thoroughbreds know vulnerability. They are very clever and very sensitive, and many of them are particularly sweet with the extremely old and the very young. Also, it seems, with the not well.
My friend smiled, radiantly. The mare stayed still and blew out gently through her nostrils.
She was in quite a confined space, with cars around and new people and strange dogs cavorting wildly and general coming and going. Yet, despite all that, she assumed that deep peace and stillness that touches my heart like nothing else.
Eventually, reluctantly, I led her away, the wide smile of my friend dancing before my eyes.
Small moments of joy are always my best.
‘You good, clever girl,’ I told the mare. ‘See what you did?’
She blinked and breathed. I don’t think she really saw. She was mostly wondering where her breakfast was. But all the same, perhaps she had sensed frailty, and responded with her kindest self.
Thoroughbreds have physically huge hearts, which pump in an almost miraculous way to produce mighty bursts of speed. It’s what they have been bred for. I think they have huge hearts in a more metaphorical way, too.
Here is an old archive photograph from last year of the two dear friend mooching about in their field, just being their most uncomplicated horsey selves: