Today, I am very happy.
I’m not happy because I won the lottery or I got good news from the agent or all my workaday frets have magically vanished or even because I got to the end of my absurd To Do list, which I have not, and certainly never shall do. It’s much more nebulous than that.
I’m happy because the sun is shining and I had the privilege of watching a great horseman at work and I rode my mare in a stately trot round a huge open field without using the reins and Stan the Man made a three-year-old laugh. (‘What is Stanley doing?’ Answer: nobody knows.)
I’m happy because I drove the long way home from HorseBack and looked at the mountains and the sheep.
I’m happy because when I went down to check the red mare at lunchtime, she was dozing in the bright light, wearing an expression as near to a smile of bliss as an equine ever comes.
I’m happy because when I went into the chemist the very nice gentleman behind the counter smiled and said: ‘How is your horse?’
When I was young, my friend The Actor and I used to sit up all night watching the Oscars, in those sort of Soho clubs where they run the ceremony on a big screen. I loved all the frocks and the tears and the brave loser faces and the brilliant thespians joshing with each other to hide their nerves. I really wanted certain people and certain films to win.
Now, I am much more bashed about, and I think about lichen and trees more than little golden statues. I took in this year’s Oscars with the very edge of my brain. I really could not give a bugger who was wearing what, and there were moments when the whole thing seemed so self-regarding that it meant nothing to me. I was pleased for Eddie Redmayne, because he was so pleased, and he seems like a very nice human being as well as a talented one. My eyes were gladdened by the very sight of Cate Blanchett, because she manages to look real and elegant at the same time, and although she appears not to play the fashion game she always wins, hardly trying. (Even more years ago than the Soho days, I was introduced to her, before she was famous. She was one of the most natural, friendly, generous people I’ve ever met, and even though she is even more luminous in life than she is in photographs, she carried her great beauty with a lovely lightness of touch, as if it meant nothing to her.)
But now I could not care much about the winners and losers. I used to dream of prizes. I wanted my moment in the sun. I wanted to thank my mother and my agent and the language of Shakespeare and Milton. Now, I am happy because the man in the chemist took the time to ask after my horse. I am happy because that same sweet horse is at ease with herself and her world. I am happy even though I shall never stand on a stage in a couture frock and be told how bloody brilliant I am. The joys I find as I get older lie in those gentle, everyday things to which mere mortals may aspire.
It’s an odd relief. I was never really going to be an Oscar winner. (Best screenplay was my secret dream, even though I am very, very bad at writing scripts.) I was never going to learn the art of glamour. That kind of spotlight would never shine on me, and, looking back, I’m not quite sure why I wanted it. I was always a bit of a show-off, so perhaps it came from that antic child who would put on her best party dress and tell stories to the grown-ups who came to the house. Perhaps it was the need for validation. LOOK AT ME!!!! AND MY PRIZE!!!!
I find life often confusing and sometimes hard. Sometimes I feel like my little legs are going in a cartoon blur, on the crazy hamster wheel. That’s why the good moments, the fine moments, the moments of glad grace, are so precious to me. A happy day is my prize now. It is a glittering prize, beyond compare.
Spring is in the air. That made me happy too: