All the McCookerybook clan were raised in the Northumbrian countryside. We were fed rough cider with our Sunday lunch every week after Church (Jesmond Presbyterian), had an argument with McMum and McDad, and got sent round the allotments with the dog every Sunday afternoon to calm down.
McDad decided when I was about twelve that there must be other ways to wear down our adolescent energy and hit upon the idea of going beagling. Beagling is when a group of people follow a pack of hounds on foot, behind a little red-faced man in a green jacket and white jodphurs with a tootly brass horn.
It was sort of nice being out in the cold January air, stamping across the frozen furrows hidden under the snow, puffing steam out of our mouths and yelling.
What it really was about, though, was the hounds chasing a hare to exhaustion and then tearing it to pieces in front of your eyes.
Lots of times, groups of us had stood silently and let the hare run past us, watching the pack of yelping beagles far away at the end of another field, chasing nothing.
The day I was handed a bloody dead hare's paw in a plastic bag, I realised what I had really been doing, and refused to go ever again.
I thought about this today because I went to see Joan's film about the girl and the hare. I last saw it about two months ago, and she has done more to it since then. It is so interesting being able to see someone develop a film over a period of time. It reminds me of Albrecht Durer prints in it's high-definition detail; bits of it, bobble-ended weeds on delicate stalks, remind me of Seurat paintings, a sort of shimmering impressionism. There is every sort of green in the film, trembling trees, all sorts of grass, sharp slanting blades all over the screen, and tiny little cow-parsley blossoms on their umbrella stalks jiggle about in the shade. It's a really sexy film and I can't wait to see the next incarnation of it!
It's been a lovely day, which I spent wandering round the West End, Christmas shopping; I went to strange places like Ray's Jazz Shop upstairs at Foyles, where you can listen to CDs before you buy them while nerdy people drink coffee. I bought a decoration for the Christmas tree, a fragile glass puppy in a stocking from Paperchase.
Best bit of the day was crossing Waterloo Bridge on the 176 bus and looking at the pale blue and white winter version of the River Thames, a view which was utterly lovely.