Thursday, 21 May 2015

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways...

When Jimmy Moffatt (our local racehorse trainer) married Nadine, in the Priory Church of Cartmel three weeks ago, the Reverend Nick Devenish referred to the many different words for ‘love’ that can be found in the Greek language. There was time to reflect on his homily during the excellent party that followed in the grandstand, when it occurred to me that all forms of love can be found here at the racecourse. 

For example: Storgē is the love that exists between family members – demonstrated touchingly by grandparents, parents and children as they share picnics in the public enclosures on raceday. It doesn’t preclude the adults from giving the youngsters an occasional cuff around the ear for eating too much candyfloss – which is probably known in parenting manuals as ‘tough storgē’. 

Elsewhere, one of the joys of the races is spotting young couples in ludus: the flirtatious, fun sort of love that involves furtive glances, giggling and maybe even canoodling behind the waltzers.

Meanwhile, anyone who feels the powerful magnetism of éros (fiery, passionate, sexy love) should ensure that their picnic blankets are positioned well out of view. Don’t forget that a Racetech TV camera is capable of picking out a thistle at the top of Hampsfell – so a bare bottom in the grass is no challenge at all, and could easily earn a voyeuristic cameraman £250 on You’ve Been Framed

Philía is the emotion that I feel for my racecourse team as we approach the races – it’s the love that is shared amongst a group of people striving for a common goal; a feeling borne out of respect for one another’s strengths and an accommodation for each other’s weaknesses (especially my own - I could get quite difficult if I don't have a decent cup of coffee in the morning / possibly a chocolate biscuit on the side).

It seems that philía is much easier to create in a team if we each, individually, possess philantia – a form of confidence or self-love that you’d anticipate is common among the BHA’s stewards, but diametrically opposed to the narcissistic self-promotion displayed by racecourse blog-writers. 

Perhaps, among the thirty or so words that the Greeks have to describe love, there is one to describe my love of horseracing, or the deep love that racegoers describe for our quaint little track at Cartmel. I don’t know enough Greek to be able to tell you what it is, but it could be encompassed by the generous notion of Agápē – a love of humanity in all its forms, a love that inspires awe, sympathy and tolerance in equal measure.

Having witnessed Jimmy and Nadine Moffatt’s ceremony, I can attest that they are now in pragma - the enduring love that develops between married couples. It stands all tests: for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health – but mainly for richer if we all follow this week’s selection: Jimmy’s Morning Royalty in whichever race he's declared for at Cartmel races on Bank Holiday Monday.  

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