Monday, 21 March 2016


The sun shone this morning, and I took my mare out into her favourite glade in the wood and let her put her head down to graze whilst I spoke on the telephone to the Beloved Cousin.
            The cousin is not only my relation, but one of my oldest and dearest friends. We’ve been together for thirty years and I don’t know what I would do without her.
            It was one of those intense, knotty conversations. We had both been dealt blows; we both wanted to ask each other about the best way of dealing with them. We listened and spoke and thought and got right into the knotty hearts of the problems. We offered each other sympathy and empathy and support and encouragement and all the life wisdom we have both picked up in our combined hundred years.
            Once we got the serious part over, we wandered about all over the shop. We talked about Trollope. (We have a mutual love for Lady Glencora in the Palliser series.) We pondered over the latest political news and the resignation of Ian Duncan-Smith. She suddenly told me a story about her late father, one of the best men I ever knew, which made me laugh so much I really nearly fell out of the saddle in hilarity.
            When I put the telephone down, I thought of friendship and what a mighty force it is. It can restore me to myself like almost nothing else. It sets everything to rights, everything back in its proper place. After such a conversation, I feel a vast sense of relief, as if a great granite stone has been lifted from my head. Everything seems brighter, better, more explicable. The world suddenly shines with possibility.
            It’s not just that the cousin is a tremendous human being, although she is. It is that she has faith in me. We have tremendous belief in each other, and there is something profound and lovely in that. I think everyone needs someone who is completely on their side, who gets them, who thinks they can do anything they set their mind to. It’s the great, human version of iron tonic.
            Then I cantered the mare about the field in giddy, liberated cowgirl fashion, one hand on the reins, the green grass of Wyoming in my head. Yesterday, we did serious schooling work. We were Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. The mare worked so hard she got up a sweat. I could feel all my muscles stretched to their limit. Today, we were not working but flying, dancing our own joyful dance, in perfect harmony with each other. It was as if the Beloved Cousin had removed such a weight from my mind that the mare sensed it, and responded with her own soaring, stream of freedom.

            Then I went to my desk and wrote 1357 words of book and felt that perhaps, just for the moment, everything would be all right.


  1. So glad to hear it! I am currently petitioning the gods for a friend like that. Opening the doors and windows of the soul, as it were. Hoping someone walks in.

  2. Lovely to read that you're finding solace; and yes friendship is all, isn't it? Even in marriage or thorny teenage first love (which I am advising my daughter through right now) I find myself asking 'would you treat your friend that way?' and it is the acid test of human kindness. What book are you working on? Curious. And how is Beech Avenue? Lou x


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