Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Rat Man.

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.


Today’s pictures:

A small collection from the last couple of weeks:

Queen’s View, near my house:

1 Sept 2 5184x3456

Stan the Man:

1 Sept 3 5184x3456

The Younger Brother and me:

1 Sept 4 5184x3456

The beat of my heart, who, through all my recent grumps and groans, has remained magnificent. I need new words for magnificent:

9 Sept 1 3414x4532

Rare photograph of all four brothers and sisters together:

9 Sept 5 4904x2440

Stanley on holiday:

9 Sept 6 5184x3456


9 Sept 7 5184x3456


  1. Welcome back - it's real and vicarious joy in the so-called little things that enable us to cope with the bigger horrors.

  2. Welcome back - it's real and vicarious joy in the so-called little things that enable us to cope with the bigger horrors.

  3. But who IS The Rat Man? Why did he come? What did he say? Why is he called The Rat Man? These are the important questions that I need answered. (Also, welcome back! I had to check The Red Mare's page to make sure you were still internetting. :)

  4. Hurrah! I was worried you'd had such a good holiday you'd decided to give up. I've really missed you: FB is not the same! Emily x

  5. Welcome back - without your blog being written I would not know that my life is lacking a rat man in it - or that Stan had a great holiday. Both equally important!

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  7. I'm so very glad you had a wonderful, restful holiday, and that you're back blogging for us. Your daily blogging has always assured me that in at least one littler corner of the world, other than mine of course, things were proceeding as they should - with beautiful pictures to confirm it all.

  8. Great to see you back. Colonsay looks wonderful.

  9. Oh my, we all have that same conversation running around and around our tiny minds. Its monotonous and blogging is the only way to get it out.

  10. Hurray from Lincoln's Inn. Very much missed your posts and delighted to see you back. Amanda

  11. So glad you are back. Really missed you.

  12. My inner voices get sloshed on margaritas and Cosmopolitans. Other than that, these "head conversations" are oh so familiar!

    Your photos of Scotland have convinced me to go there, especially to the farthest shores (one stipulation: in late spring or summer; after years in Canada I no longer can abide cold).

    Welcome home!

  13. Missed the blog, the red mare, the manly Stanley. My thanks to the Rat Man.

  14. Welcome back! You big sillyhead, you know we love you! We don't need any prepackaged wisdom... just some Red, some Stanley, some rat man (!) and whatever else happens across your path in the course of a day. Tell the inner voices they're cut off, YOU have a martini instead, and relax. It's all good!

  15. So glad to hear that you're writing again and that the vacation was restorative. My inner voices have similar conversations, I have to say, but they seem to be soothed by writing. Hope that yours are, as well!

  16. Thoughtful and generous as always, and very welcome.

    I am a few days late and don't know if you read back comments, but I wanted say this all the same, I always enjoy your writing and the beautiful photography through your love lens.


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