After yesterday’s horrors, I wake this morning in a different frame of mind. The sun is shining and I walk the dogs down to the burn. Scotland glimmers and gleams in the light. ‘Well,’ I think, slightly hilarious, ‘if this ship is sinking at least we shall go down singing.’
A kind man in the village does something for me which makes my life very, very much easier. Not only that, but he speaks generous words of sympathy and understanding. I stand, rather overwhelmed by his goodness, in his little shop in my gumboots and my hat and my muddy coat, listening to his words of wisdom.
‘Thank you,’ I say about five times, overcome with gratitude.
Down at the Co-op, a small boy is helping his grandmother with her shopping. He is perhaps eleven. He is wreathed in smiles, as if helping the old lady is all he wants to do in the world. I buy courgettes for soup and as I get to the car, I hurl them accidentally to the ground. I fiddle about with the keys and a voice behind me says: ‘Here you are.’
A smiling lady has picked the things up and is handing them to me. I am even more overwhelmed. Is the universe just sending me loveliness today, because it can? ‘That is so sweet of you,’ I cry. ‘Thank you so much.’ We beam at each other, as if we have a secret compact.
Back at the house, the lovely man from Scottish Fuels has arrived, despite his hectic schedule. ‘We might not be able to get to you till Monday,’ they had said, and I had resigned myself to a freezing weekend. ‘Oh, oh, oh,’ I warble, my voice now entirely out of control. ‘You came. That is so, so good of you.’
He too smiles. Everyone today is smiling at me. ‘Not a problem,’ he says, cheerfully. He looks at my three jumpers and my hat and my boots and smiles even more. ‘Now you can take the jumpers off,’ he says. I am quite bored of sitting at my desk in my hat and my boots and my three jumpers. ‘Yes,’ I cry, ‘I really can. All thanks to you.’
The horses are happy in the sun and my kind friend has done all the hard work, putting out the haynets and filling up the frozen water trough. It is as if dear elves have come in the night and fixed everything up, so all I have to do is stand with the magnificent creatures and do the love. The little brown mare in particular wants the love, and when I turn to go, she follows me, to get some more. I give her more. There is no end to the love.
I work and work and work. Yesterday, I felt as if I were getting nowhere and that all the words were pointless. Today, the sentences made me smile and some of them were even quite good.
And then, as I pass the side door, I see a small package that has fallen behind a chair. A friend has sent me a proof copy of her book. ‘Oh,’ I say, to Stanley the Dog, who was hoping it was Bonios. ‘Just look at that.’
I’ll just read the first page, I think. Just a quick peek. Ten minutes later, I am conscious of a slight crick in my neck. I look up. I have read twenty-two pages, standing in the hall, my head bent in concentration and delight. It’s a beautiful book, funny and fascinating and true. It’s the real thing. And this good writer went to the trouble to send it. So much goodness and kindness, I think, in a haze.
Yesterday, everything went to hell. Today, everything went to heaven. I still don’t really know how or why that happens. All I do know is that I feel very, very glad, and soothed to my soul. On we bugger, the dear equines and the dancing dogs and I, up and down and round the houses, sometimes on a stormy sea, sometimes over a ravishing calm. This dear old ship is a bit creaky, and it sometimes leaks, and it is not in its first flush of newness and youth, but it does keep sailing on.