I had one of those conversations today with an old friend, one of the ones which makes everything better. We ranged over every subject under the golden sun and came to no consoling conclusions or dazzling answers but left each other with the best consolation of all, which is that we are not alone.
‘Sometimes,’ said the old friend, ‘you just do wonder what the point of it all is.’
We are not melancholics. We laugh a lot and see the beauty and are wild enthusiasts. We love the things we love with a fierce love. But we are fifty and a bit bashed by life and there are moments when it all feels a bit much. That’s when we wonder what the point of it all is, not so much in a despairing way but in a faintly baffled way.
I have been wondering lately what the point of the blog is. I do a lot of social media, partly because I genuinely enjoy it and partly because I have made my first foray into self-publishing and one has to polish the brand, or whatever it is called. The books are horse books and so the red mare is my brand. She has to trot out into the prairies of the internet more than ever now so that people might be interested and go and read her story.
So as she and I gallop about on the social media, it feels a little de trop to write a blog as well. Sometimes I genuinely don’t have time; sometimes I think the whole thing pointless and self-indulgent.
I realise today that it is self-indulgent, but in a rather lovely way. I was trying to tidy up some of my files and found the collected blogs of 2013. There were all the stories I had completely forgotten – about Stanley the Manly doing something comical and charming, about a racehorse I once adored who is now retired, about, of course, the red mare being magnificent. I thought: I’m so glad I wrote that down. I have a memory like a colander and all these ordinary but touching little tales would have been quite lost to me otherwise. There, suddenly, brought vividly to life, is my mother, who is now dead. I wrote her down, so she is still with me. When I miss her dreadfully, I can go back and read those stories.
I want to remember the telephone conversation I had today. I never take this particular Best Beloved for granted, because she is an extraordinary human being who has been there for me in every single triumph and disaster since we were nineteen. That’s a lot of laughter and a lot of tears. But I almost do take for granted that I can ring her up whenever I want and she will make me feel better about life. She will make me laugh so much that I can’t speak for half a minute. I want to look back and remember that we talked about her grandfather and the state of publishing and the abdication and the nature of prejudice and the complications of family and a hundred antic subjects. I’ll do twenty other things today, but nothing will make me feel as human and loved and real and alive as that conversation. That is, indeed, one of the small things. On paper, it is nothing more than a chat between two middle-aged women. In the heart, it is absolutely everything.
It is written now. It exists. It will be there, for the bad days and the sad days when I want to look back on the dancing, sparkling moments of happiness and feel comforted and reassured. That's the point.