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Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 02 April 2014
I like to think that I am, mostly, a perfectly lovely person. This of course is a delusion. I can be scratchy, unreasonable, and shockingly intolerant, especially of bores and people who invade my personal or mental space. (I try to plaster on a phoney smile, but it does not work.) I can also be ranty, go off on far too many tangents, and grow monomaniacal when it comes to racing or politics.


I suspect that most humans try to hold on to the illusion of loveliness, unless they are called Vladimir Putin. My simulacrum slips most shockingly when I am under the weather. For the last four days I have had a nasty bug, which brings with it the kind of abdominal pain which makes me lie on the floor and shout, much to the astonishment of the dog. At times like this, life cannot stop. I still have to stagger up and get on with things and deal with people. This is where the mask slips. Anyone who asks me to do anything I consider unreasonable, which in this case is everything, gets an awful icy curtness. Politeness, my watchword, flees for the hills, where it builds itself a bivouac for the duration. I am ashamed of myself. Mostly, I want to tell everyone to bugger off and leave me alone.

In this cross, weakened state, I go up to work with a group of people who are battling with post-traumatic stress. Ha, say the voices of the perspective police, you are acting like an ogre because you have one little bug, whilst here are people who have a relentless condition which can make the most taken for granted aspects of daily life feel like climbing Everest. It is the taken for granted which I think of, at times like this. It is things like being able to sleep. So simple, and so crucial, and so lost, for those in the crocodile jaws of PTSD. One sufferer once told me that the hissing sound of a bus door can send him diving for the ground on a crowded city street. The startle reflex is constantly off the scale. Going to the shop to buy food can be an ordeal.


I think about perspective a lot. I can’t quite work it out. Obviously, everyone is allowed to be a bit grumpy sometimes. One can’t be a little ray of sunshine every moment of every day. It’s no good my saying: well, I am living in a liberal democracy with a body and mind which mostly work, so I can complain of nothing. That would be absurd and lead to ulcers. On the other hand, I do think that the counting of blessings is an important thing. When I am in danger of plummeting into the slough of despond, I am quite glad that my perspective police are stern and unforgiving. They haul me up and give me a good talking to and set me straight. I can’t say that they save me entirely from my worst self, but when I am on the verge of turning into a monster I am glad that those blue sirens start to flash.

In which HorseBack UK has an important visitor

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Yesterday, I met the Secretary of State for Scotland. I must admit, I was really thrilled.

It’s a most gauche and unfashionable reaction, but I’ve always held the idea that most politicians are pretty decent, at heart. Of course there are some knaves and fools; of course there are some who cause one to throw heavy objects every time you hear the maddening voice on the Today programme, not answering the question, or talking in robotic soundbites. But there are knaves and fools in every profession; it’s just that one usually does not see them on the Ten O’Clock news.

I genuinely think that most people who go into politics do it because they have a desire to do something of use. Everyone bleats about too much Oxbridge, but a lot of the parliamentarians could have taken those fancy degrees and parleyed them into seven figure salaries in banking or big Pharma or the kind of accountancy that salts away company cash in the Cayman Islands. I rather admire the fact that they chose public service instead.

I’m also riveted by the kind of people who get to high office. I’m not just a politics geek, but a bit of psychology nerd too. It takes a very particular mind-set to climb that greasy pole, and I am fascinated to see it close to.

Michael Moore, it turned out, was rather impressive, highly intelligent, and keenly focused. When I say I met the Secretary of State, it was only the briefest of handshakes and a couple of words. He was visiting HorseBack UK, the charity for whom I volunteer, and I was there in my capacity as their recorder-in-chief. I stumped around in my muddy boots, as the grave man in the suit was shown the facilities and all the marvellous work they do there. (I had attempted to get the worst of the horse off my outdoor coat, but it was rather a losing battle.)

He did not showboat about, or attempt to ingratiate with spurious charm. He was there for a serious purpose, and he got the job done with politeness and efficiency. One of the things that interests me about HorseBack is that whilst they have a very practical programme for the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen and women, carefully planned and thought out, there is a nebulous, extra factor in their work, which cannot be recorded in clinical terms. It is partly to do with the fact that the injured work with horses there, and there is something about a horse that touches the places that no amount of pills or therapy can. It is also to do with the fact that HorseBack lies in one of the most ravishing natural landscapes in Britain. It can be slightly astonishing to hear a tough warrior talk, almost lyrically, of the part these rolling hills play in the long road to recovery.

For all that the Secretary was purposeful and businesslike, he absolutely got the thing about the beauty. He mentioned it more than once. It did help that after weeks of skies the colour of old socks, Scotland pulled her sunniest, most dazzling day out of the bag for him. The great lighting director in the sky was on golden time. But still, I was quite surprised. I liked him very much for that.

The visit was a huge success and it will make a big difference to a small but brilliant operation. Politician does decent thing for Good Cause will not make any headlines. All the same, it was a headline for me.

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