Friday, 9 March 2018

Good Stuff: Day Nine.

1. I finished the first draft of my new book. Sixty-six thousand words exist which once did not exist. I’ve gone so fast and hard at this one that my head feels as if someone has unplugged all my neurones. It’s like having extreme jet-lag. But I have the holy sense of achievement, which is like no other feeling.

2. The mares found some grass this morning, the first grass they have seen for two weeks. They were so elegantly and gently pleased. I watched them with absurd delight.

3. I’ve had a lovely time checking out the Cheltenham previews. The best one was the Nicky Henderson show. Of course it was not billed like that. There was a stellar panel, including Nico De Boinville, Jessie Harrington and Paddy Brennan, but Henderson stole the show. 

He’s the epitome of the old school of National Hunt trainers, the kind they don’t really make any more. He was a great friend of my father’s, and I remember him fondly from childhood days. 

In the world now, so many of the people who are the great, famous successes put on a polished persona, often speak in incomprehensible jargon, walk and talk with a swing and a swagger. Nicky Henderson does none of those things.

Henderson does an almost impossible job with what management types would call insane variables. A thoroughbred is not a machine, or a balance sheet. You can’t simply tick all the correct boxes and watch your share price soar. Those horses sometimes simply get out of bed the wrong side. They have moods and thoughts and feelings. Might Bite, Henderson’s Gold Cup hope, is such a famously complex character that nobody really knows what is going on in his brilliant head. 

And yet, as the festival approaches, with all its pressures and all its expectations and all its make and break, there is Nicky, making wry, dry jokes, mostly against himself. I love that someone can be so damn good at his job and so comical and authentic at the same time. 

He famously wears his heart on his sleeve. When he has a big winner, you can guarantee that the camera will pan to the stands and catch him with tears in his eyes. I think the tears are not just tears of victory, but of love and admiration for the brave equine athlete who has made his trainer's hopes and dreams come true. 

When I’ve done this amount of work in such a blast, all my own emotions are very near the surface. I have no defences, and no place to hide. Everything makes me laugh or makes me cry. So I find it oddly reassuring that there are other humans out there, at the top of their field, who find it impossible to put on a composed front. The things that matter, matter. And so there is the laughing, and there is the crying, and damn the consequences.


  1. Why did humans ever get to the point where it's considered wrong to cry, I wonder? Especially for men to cry. That seems like an unbelievably heavy burden.

    Congratulations on all the words!

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