Today, the rat man came.
Thank goodness for the rat man, or I don’t think I’d ever have written this blog again.
I went away on holiday, to the enchanted island of Colonsay, and the sun shone and I saw old and dear friends and Stanley the Dog charmed everyone and everything was merry as a marriage bell.
Then I came home and various things were a bit fraught, so I thought I’d leave the blog for a bit until life settled down.
This was fatal. I started thinking about the blog. The first rule of the blog is NEVER THINK ABOUT THE BLOG.
The moment you start thinking about it, the internal conversation goes something like this:
I’ve got to come back with a bang, because the Dear Readers have been waiting. At which point, the Critical Voices, who are already on their second martini, laugh with so much derision that their hats fall off. Waiting for what? they scoff, wondering whether they should move on to a Gibson.
But, continues the dialogue, the world is getting madder and madder and sadder and sadder and there are huge tragedies unfolding and what price my absurd, tiny life and my flimsy, flaky thoughts in the face of all that? Can I really talk about love and trees and Stan the Man and the perfect cowgirl canter the red mare did this morning, in the face of outrage?
It should have wisdom, says a determined voice, suddenly. That’s the ticket. Rework the whole concept. Every day, give them one paragraph of wisdom. You’ve lived life, you’ve been round the block, you know a thing or two. Be useful.
But I have no wisdom, wails the hopeless voice, who is feeling a bit beleaguered and does not really know how anything works.
The Critical Voices at this stage have gone into a huddle and are bitching about something called a Kardashian.
Might as well give it all up, says the hopeless voice. Nobody needs to know what you think about the world. You have two jobs and three secret projects and a horse and a dog and family obligations. There is no time. There’s no point doing a daily tap dance, saying look at me, look at me.
Then the rat man came. I’d just finished working the mare and she was dozing outside the feed shed. Stan was sunbathing at her feet. The rat man and I talked about rats, and voles, and working dogs, and pointers, and evolutionary biology, and inter-species communication, and trust, and anthropomorphism. If I did not have work to do, I’d be talking to the rat man still. If I had the choice between talking to a rat man or a philosopher, I’d take the rat man every day and twice on Sundays.
And then, I came home and wrote this. Some odd Occam’s Razor had come and slashed its way through the nonsense.
It’s just a thing. Some people are disdainful of it, and that is their right. It hides in its little, poor, obscure corner of the internet, and nobody is obliged to read it. It does not need a reason, or a justification, or a validation. Any daily writing is good discipline; a free exercise of prose helps my fingers and my brain and my muscle memory. It is exactly what it is, no more and no less.
I bless that rat man, and all who sail in him.
A small collection from the last couple of weeks:
Queen’s View, near my house:
Stan the Man:
The Younger Brother and me:
The beat of my heart, who, through all my recent grumps and groans, has remained magnificent. I need new words for magnificent:
Rare photograph of all four brothers and sisters together:
Stanley on holiday: