Friday, 30 January 2015

A slight birthday shock.

I am forty-eight.



As I said this morning to a friend, standing in the dazzling Scottish sunshine and the bitter Scottish wind: ‘Old for a jockey, young for a prime minister.’

In the spirit of the birthday, I thought I’d write you one of those amusing lists, like they do on the Facebook – you know, seven interesting or surprising facts about oneself.

I only managed three. And they are not very interesting.

They are:

1. I really like cockles.

2. I have a bronze medal in life-saving. Which means that if ever an inflated pair of pyjamas were drowning in a small swimming pool, I would be able to rescue them.

3. I can’t remember the third one.

Ah, ah, ah, ah. All these years, I secretly thought I was quite interesting. I could tell you about the repeal of the Corn Laws and how not to dangle a modifier. How damn fascinating is that? And then, when it comes to it, I discover that I HAVE NO INTERESTING FACTS.

It’s a bit of a blow, to be honest. (And I never use the phrase ‘to be honest’, so you can see how acutely I am afflicted.)

Oh yes, I remember the third one. It is: I once saw Judi Dench in the ladies’ lav at the Groucho. She was absolutely radiant.

You see? That sound you hear is the bottom of the barrel being scraped. In order to drum up the tiniest roll on the interest timpani, I had to dredge up a National Treasure.

Obviously, I am now going to have to go away and deal with this. I suppose it’s lucky I’ve got to the age of forty-eight with my delusions intact. At least it is excessively British. Being fascinating is really best left to Bobby Dazzlers from the continent. (Not that I would stoop to vast cultural generalisations, oh no.) Much better to talk about the weather and not blow one’s own trumpet.

Talking of the weather, there is going to be sleet tonight. Rug up the horses and put on your thermals. Never say this blog does not do public service.

PS. I was going to tell you about my enchanting birthday, which has involved cake, champagne, a jewel, flowers, a mystery parcel, and a lot of loveliness on the internet. But I’m saving that for tomorrow because I’m still a bit over-tired and my fingers have done enough typing. I’m going to watch the racing from Chepstow instead. See how ruthless I am, now I am hurtling towards fifty?


Today’s pictures:

One of the things I don’t really know how to do is take a selfie. It’s oddly hard, and my arms are not long enough. Obviously I had to try to get a special birthday picture of the red mare and me, since she is the beat of my heart. She stood for ten whole minutes in the middle of the field, not moving a hoof, occasionally letting out a gentle, resigned, forgiving sigh at the folly of her human.

Excellent Lady of a Certain Age tip – pose head-on into the dancing Scottish sun. It’s insanely flattering. I probably should care that I don’t actually look like this, but I don’t:

30 Jan 1

Can you see the look in the mare’s eyes? It says: just let the old girl get on with it. Possibly with a bit more swearing:

30 Jan 2

Stan the Man was moving so fast he is completely out of focus. But you had to see the special birthday ears:

30 Jan 4


30 Jan 5

The sweet, woolly, muddy duchess, sighing a sigh; at least that’s over. She’s very dozy and dreamy this morning, as if her wild gymnastics of the other day are quite forgotten:

30 Jan 5-001

PS. I’ve thought of another interesting fact. Watching the racing, I was reminded that the very first time I tasted smoked mackerel was at Chepstow racecourse in 1976. I was nine. I thought it the most madly sophisticated food I had ever eaten. Even though I had encountered the legendary soupe de poisson at Tetou. But you know, that was just soup.

So sorry. That really is the best I can do.


  1. Brilliant. Happy birthday!

  2. Very funny. Very very funny (which is the same as clever, isn't it?)
    Happy birthday! (Hint: the kindest decade is the one that's just before you. I speak as a 61 year old.)

  3. Yes, happy, happy birthday! Lovely photos, yesterday too, especially the one of her rearing! Rachel

  4. Tania, you are a baby - don't look a day over 30. Happy day.

  5. Happy Birthday Tania! Over here in my part of the internet ether I am having a virtual whip round for your birthday gift to solve the short arms problem which is one I share.

    Behold: the Selfie Stick

    Perhaps the youth of today have already evolved Mr Tickle type arms.

  6. What everyone said ^^^ (especially the part about being at the edge of a really good decade!).
    Beautiful photos, you two. The Two Reds.

    As for lists, interesting and/ or surprising…what you write about yourself on an almost daily basis here nullifies the need for any such "list"!

    PS Tiny birthday thing still sitting on Miami sister's guest room dresser, the curse of the procrastinator (SORRY!). It will be sent. Before I get back to Belgium. XX

  7. Happy happy happy birthday, with birthday ears and everything! x

  8. dear tania, a very happy birthday from me, as well! :) we don't know each other, but now is as good a time as any to tell you that i love the way you write! enjoy, admire, LOVE. it started with a charity shop edition of 'elvis...', and then last week i read your two first books and was just astounded by the wit, the language and the sheer energy of it all. after that it was 'nothing to lose', which is so touching and made me cry a lot, but it also made me smile because i recognised all that scottish beauty from following your blog! i am trying to find my own voice as a writer (or/and as a human being), and i can only hope it will be as strong as yours. so, thank you for your words, and i hope there will be more, because we'll all be there to read them! love from germany, kat x

  9. Dahling, I've been 48 since December, and reahhhhlly, it's no different than 28 as long as you're really bad at math(s), which I most certainly am.

    Seriously, though - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Glad someone gave you flowers, because you should always have flowers on your birthday.

  10. Happy Happy Birthday, Lovely Tania!! I will look to you as the voice of all that is good and wise and true as you are now SIGNIFICANTLY older than my 47 years and four months.:)
    Your 'Two Reds' selfie is perfect as are Stan's ears and the gorgeous flowers. Hope you had the very best of days. xx

    PS I am going online this minute to find 'Nothing to Lose'. Not sure how I've missed it but it will be got!


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