Thursday, 19 May 2016

The kindness of strangers and a bit of a blow.

Oh, the dear Dear Readers. You are mighty battalions of loveliness.

Whenever I write a particularly revelatory post, especially one that carries a humming freight of absurdity, I am caught by the snapping crocodile jaws of angst. Am I about to be arrested by the Too Much police? Have I been a crashing bore? Did you really need to know all that?

One of the things that drives me nuts is the Shiny School. There is a lot of this on the internet. Look at me and my fabulous life. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair. So I get this nutty idea that if I share the imperfections then that is somehow a good thing in itself.

My instinct is often to put on a fine front. Be amusing, be ironic, don’t frighten the horses. When I rip that front off, I feel a bit frightened, even though I have an incurable conviction that the more ripping there is, the better everything shall be.

But you came up trumps. Nobody said: oh butch up and put on your big girl’s pants. Everyone said a version of two of my favourite words in the English language: me too. Thank you.

The odd thing was that after all these layers of slightly pointless angst, something really sad happened last night. I got a fresh blow on an old bruise, and fell reeling backwards. I was like George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle: against the ropes, baffled and bewildered. I had to go down to the field this morning and do a lot of mad singing and wild weeping to get the sorrow out. (I find really loud and heedless singing is amazingly helpful in this kind of situation.)

The sweet mare kindly watched, unruffled, and fell back to grazing. She does not mind me excavating emotion as long as I do it at a safe distance. Once I got all the shit out, in a very noisy and messy way, I was calm again for a moment and I got on her dear back and cantered around without caring a straw for what I looked like. I needed to be at one with her and I was. Her great, beautiful, thoroughbred body is my safe place. It is the only place in the world where I am constitutionally incapable of feeling miserable. I don’t know how she does this, but she does.

This new sorrow has ripped the scars off the old sorrow and I shall have to put on my grown-up hat and be sensible and stoical and look the damn thing in the whites of its eyes. I sometimes wish I did not have to be the grown-up, but if wishes were horses we would all be Lady bloody Godiva. The wailing six-year-old in me has to come out and have her wail. The sweary, furious, wounded self has to have her own shout. Fuck, bugger, bollocks, shit and arse goes the cry. This is when I feel very, very lucky to have a hidden field, so that the bawling and hollering can fly harmlessly into the bright air.

And then I go back into the world, where life is earnest, life is real, and actual tragedies are being reported on the nightly news, and you really can’t go around cursing like a longshoreman just because your heart got a bit cracked. I am wearing a literal hat, which is not in fact very grown up, but does keep off the drizzle. (The hat has been sat on by the dogs, got lost under twenty bales of hay, and been trodden into the mud, so it is entirely squashed and misshapen and mapped with Scottish earth. Yet it still does its job. Which feels almost like a parable to me.) The metaphorical grown-up hat will be firmly put into place as the hours go by. I’ll get the measure of the blow, let reality bite, hunt about for the silver linings like a pig hunting for truffles. I’ll ring up the Beloved Cousin, who always knows what to do, because she is so good and wise. In the meantime, I’m sitting quietly in my room and recruiting my strength. There will be green soup and iron tonic and then I’ll get myself back up off the ropes and live to fight another day.

PS. Today's picture is of the red mare having her feet trimmed. This is a sight guaranteed to lift my spirits, so I am squinting at it very hard. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I wrote a big sweary comment and had to delete. The polite version is that we, the dear readers, do not like our dear writer wounded. I hope there is healing soon.

  3. Life is definitely a roller coaster - hang on tight.

  4. oh that is horrible. I love your writing and your eloquence. I have taken a break from commenting as I piece my life back together following a bit of an "episode" but I do keep you in my thoughts x

  5. The kindness of strangers works both ways. First - I am sorry you had to go through yet more pain. But second - when you went through what was arguably your most painful episode of all, the death of your mother, you wrote some of the greatest commentary about dealing with loss that I have ever read. When a friend of mine lost a longtime love, I made a list of dates, gave her the BIHH address, and said, "Go read this. You are not alone." You are a stranger to her, but you may have provided the most effective kindness in the world in her life at that time.


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