Author’s note: this really is not my best piece of writing, and I was late to it so it’s after midnight now, and not even Day Twelve any more. But I promised myself that I would try and give you something every day, however paltry, so here it is –
I worked all day, because Saturdays have become indistinguishable from ordinary week days. Usually, I give myself a lovely day off and go to the shop and get the Racing Post and then come home and settle in for an afternoon of being thrilled by gleaming thoroughbreds. That no longer happens, so there is no holiday atmosphere. Work is a good way of taking one’s mind off it.
It sounds a bit pious – oh, look at me, on the weekend, typing my fingers to the bone. But actually it was profoundly satisfying. It also meant I got a news blackout, which I’m starting to think might be a good once-a-week rule for one’s mental health. I feel faintly uneasy about this. The irrational voices in my head, which are suffering from amygdala hijack, tell me that I must watch the news so that I can worry, and get cross, and empathise with the entire country, and generally be part of the crisis. I thank them for their kind information, and ask them, as politely as I can, to bugger off. (I start to think that the irrational voices are egomaniacs. What on earth can it matter if one middle-aged women in Scotland does not watch the news? It’s not as if I have magical powers and can invent ten thousand extra ventilators just by fretting.)
I take a break at five to watch the Virtual Grand National. Rather madly, I have a bet on Potters Corner at 18-1. (I justify this by telling myself that when I lose, as I surely must, the money will go to National Health charities.) Even though the real Potters Corner is happily eating hay in his stable at home in Wales – or, because he is trained by Christian Williams, probably having a lovely romp along the beach – I still love him enough to want his avatar to win. Tiger Roll surely can’t do it three years in a row under such a weight, so Potters will put a smile on my face.
And, to my astonishment, he does. He jumps like a buck and he holds on stoutly to pass the post in front of the fast-finishing Walk in the Mill. I shout in jubilation at the unreal horses as if they were flesh and bone. Some of my work was quite sad today, and I’d been feeling emotionally empty, but that funny race and that grand horse put a spring back into my step and smile back onto my face. Such is the curious world in which we now live.