I tend to show the nicer side of myself on this blog. I have a rule about being very, very nice on the internet generally, as I have a theory that you get back what you put in. The wilder shores of the web can be very scary indeed, especially for women. One minute you are suggesting that it would be charming if Jane Austen were on a banknote, the next you are being told by complete strangers that you are an evil cunt who must die. I try to avoid ad hominem generally, as it’s cheap, but I especially avoid it on the internet. I don’t want to get forest fires burning. Besides, I really do sometimes cry actual tears when people are mean to me online, so it is only right that I do not indulge in meanness myself.
Instead, you get my better angels, my best self. Look, here I am being sweet with my beloved mare, and cooking my old mum her breakfast, and loving the nieces.
However, this blog does strive for authenticity, and I have to admit that I do have an inner bitch. I try and keep her on a tight leash, but sometimes she comes out and does the fandango.
I’m trying to make plans for a short trip south and some of them are proving complex. I have had to be butch and say no to a couple of suggestions. One of them was to go to a restaurant in west London which is fashionable and adored by the people who go there. I hate it. In the old days, I would have gritted my teeth and gone, but I only go to London once every eighteen months, and then for two or three days, and my life is whistling past my ears. I don’t want to go to some awful trendy place where everyone knows what this season’s ‘must-have’ is, as I pick out the hay from my hair; I don’t want to sit in a room with people who think that a shoe which is not a Louboutin is a sad excuse for footwear.
I had to write an apologetic email, to a very old friend. The truth is, I wrote, that I loathe the place. It’s those beady women, I wrote, who haven’t touched a carb since 1997 and who stare at me as I eat the bread.
As the regular readers know, I do strive to avoid labels, reductive thinking, and tribalism. I am a feminist, and I believe in the sisterhood, and that men and women should be treated equally and not viewed as objects. I try to avoid assumptions.
And there I am, bitching up a group of women of whom I know nothing, in a most reductive and unsisterly manner.
The inner bitch is laughing her head off. Serves them right, she says, waving her Sobranie in the air and ordering a martini with three olives, with their fad diets and their invented food allergies and their insane obsession with being thin. When they lie on their deathbeds, cackles the inner bitch, will they say: ‘Thank God I never touched gluten.’ NO THEY WILL NOT.
My nice, sensible self is horrified. What did these women ever do to me? If you cut them, will they not bleed? They have hopes and dreams, night demons and moments of glad grace. They have had broken hearts and dashed ambitions and attacks of fear and angst. So what if they don’t want to eat carbohydrates? They are not polluting the groundwater or fixing the LIBOR rate or robbing old ladies of their pensions. They just want to be a size eight. Is that so wicked?
Not what Mrs Pankhurst fought for, mutters the inner bitch, who, in an entirely contradictory manner, does not let her admiration for the suffragettes stop her judging other females for not living up to her rigid standards.
But you believe in each to each, says the nice, sensible self. As long as a person does no harm, surely they must choose their own path in life? The nice self is a true liberal and does not want to corral people into boxes and only give them conditional approval if they select the right box.
Jung talked a lot about the light and the shadow. He believed that only by exploring and embracing one’s shadow side can one find the gold within. Easy for him to say. I suppose I have to look the inner bitch in the eye and get her measure, but I am quite shocked by her sometimes, on account of the fact that she does not give a bugger about all the things I think I hold dear.
Maybe I should let her out to play, every so often, in a safe space. Maybe I should stop trying to be so damn nice all the damn time, and give vent to the irrational, mean, contradictory thoughts, so that they are out in the world and lose their power.
Should I admit?
Should I tell you that I want to punch people on the nose when they use the Redundant So or the Universal We? Should I confess that the three words which make me want to throw heavy objects through windows are: ‘Welcome to Midweek.’? Should I say out loud that my inner bitch does judge people who write breaks when they mean brakes or there when they mean their or it’s when they mean its?
Probably not. You may judge me in your turn and you would have every right.
The nasty part of me is amazingly critical and judgemental. It cannot understand why so many politicians will not answer the question, or why management types speak in empty jargon, or why holy men insist that they love all of God’s creatures but cannot stomach the idea of a man marrying a man. It thinks that tottery high heels are stupid and video games are the work of the devil and reality television is asinine. For no decent reason, it gets really irritated when people say veg instead of vegetables, dangle modifiers, or refer to horses as neddies. It goes batshit insane when the default pronoun is he. (I admit, the nasty part may have a point with that one. I know that people who refer to the entire human race as ‘he’ are not bad people who adore the patriarchy and think that women should stay barefoot and pregnant, but I do think that they might consider before they ignore 50% of the world population.)
Ah, there it is. I’ve let her out. She’s tired now and she’s had one too many martinis and she’s going for a little lie-down.
I quite often say that every day can’t be Doris Day, and I pretend that I mean it. Intellectually, I understand what Jung was on about, and that the light cannot exist without the dark. I know there are good days and bad days, and that humans have good sides and bad sides. The crazy part of me does secretly wish I could be Doris Day, every day. I’d like to be kind and forgiving and not judge people in mean ways and not get irrational irritations which have no basis in fact. But it turns out that is not possible.
Bugger. The inner bitch has woken up again. She’d like to remind me that she thinks the new actor playing Tom in The Archers is really, really wooden.
Stop now. That’s quite enough of that.
No time for pictures today. Just this face, clearly saying – you think what???
She was a dream this morning, as soft and sweet and responsive and light as I’ve ever known her. No inner bitch for her, just an inner dream, and an outer one too. She adores the cold, crisp weather and she is all furry and happy and, for whatever reason, the high thoroughbred spirit which has animated her for the last week has gone, and been replaced by a deep, spreading peace. I can feel it coming up out of her body. When she is like this, I only have to think right and she moves right. I quietly say walk and she walks. I sit deep in the saddle and she stops. I squeeze the reins lightly and she backs. When she is like this, she feels like a miracle horse, and all between us is light and harmony, and I want to sing. Maybe she was trying to prove a point. You may have gone all bitch-tastic, she was almost certainly saying, but let me show you how a real lady behaves. Once a duchess, always a duchess, I suppose. I love her so.