It is, as people know, the custom for journalists to write spoof stories on 1 April.
I remember colleagues vying with each other to write the most ridiculous stories possible. At the same time, these crazy stories had to have a grain of truth in them somewhere, or at least, to be potentially credible. A spaceship landing in the market place was a bit too obviously fictitious.
But this is not going to be one of those sort of tales. In my characteristically unconventional fashion, I shall buck the trend and write a serious post.
Chatting with a friend a few weeks ago, I realised that I paint a somewhat rosy picture of my life, flitting backwards and forwards between two homes in the sunshine as a lady of leisure without a care in the world.
Perhaps that is the Public Relations Manager in me coming out, presenting the good side of life. Or perhaps I think it is more interesting and rewarding to write about.
Still, in an attempt to redress the balance, I propose to write a series of gloomy posts. Naturally these will cover the usual issues – money, health ie ill-health, relationships, friendships, work, unemployment, death and bereavement of course, crime, bureaucratic nightmares, redundancy – what have I left off the list? Oh yes, divorce. I can’t manage that one, although there have been occasions when it could so easily have made the list. The sunny posts will continue of course, on Itchy Feet.
So where to start? Perhaps with something that has had a disproportionate effect on me.
I was flicking through some old emails – if one can flick through emails – and enjoying reading them.
I’d forgotten the content of so many of them, just had a hazy reminder of a – mostly – enjoyable exchange.
It was rather like looking at old photos, you don’t realise how much you forget until you look back at something tangible.
I was obviously in a ghastly nostalgic mood, sadly thinking ‘all in the past, there’ll be no more of that again, ever.’
Now if I was dishing out really helpful practical advice to someone in the same position, it would be on the lines of ‘Do snap out of it. This person has made it clear they no longer have any interest in you. Enjoy the memories if you want, but realise that’s exactly what they are. If someone’s ended a friendship, accept it, go forth and find new friends, and stop wishing things were different.’ Or some such crap.
But whoever takes their own advice?
A number of friends have complimented me on my level-headed practical approach to problems they have had. Thanks for that, although I don’t think I said anything more valuable than anyone else could have done. If it helped though, I’m pleased. I’ve also received some excellent and sound comments from people on here.
It’s easy to look at someone else’s problems and give advice when you are cold and objective and not involved in the situation. Not so easy when you are in the midst of it.
Advice is the wrong word. One I don’t like. It smacks of ‘I know better than you, so why don’t you do what I say?’
I hope whenever I have suggested anything to someone that they didn’t take it as bossy advice.
Option appraisal on the other hand I can live with. I considered it a rather high-faluting management term when I first met it, but now, everything is subject to option appraisal. Even the tiniest domestic situation – which causes problems in itself but this isn’t the time for that gloomy post. At least it prevents a knee-jerk reaction doing the first thing that comes into your head. And I have realised with age, that time to think can bring different solutions. Or options.
I used to like pros and cons lists. When I was considering getting married, I cleared off to New Zealand for a holiday and happily made out the list. The cons list was longer but I still got married. At least the (short) exercise had given me chance to think through the implications.
Option appraisals are even better though. You get to do a P&C list for every option.
So what options do I have in mind?
Well I could snap out of it (as above). That would be a good idea. It hasn’t worked so far, but maybe one day?
I forgot the classic one to start with – Option 1 is always Do Nothing. But no, I don’t think that will serve. It’s relying on time, and how long will that take?
I could waste even more time reading endless emails from the past and indulging in maudling and totally unproductive sentimentality.
I could continue bleating about it on here. Wah! Wah! Someone doesn’t want to be friends with me! Maybe not. I have other things to write about on here.
But I could start a new blog using those millions of old emails. Sort of like 84 Charing Cross Road. Or as I wouldn’t be publishing the other side, maybe more like Letters from a Fainthearted Feminist. Most appropriate.
What I really want to do is pick and choose some good bits and write about them rather than copying them. And maybe a few not-so-good. Then it becomes more ‘Emails I’ve written, never meaning to send,’ with apols to the Moody Blues. A blog with draft emails that I could write, wanting to share them with the one person who would understand them – and because he doesn’t want me to contact him again, ever – I could never send them. A one-sided conversation in fact. No-one to answer me back or tell me off or criticise me or misunderstand me. Maybe I would get so bored with that I might even snap out of my soppy nostalgia.
If I was doing my level-headed approach to a friend, I would probably only offer two options.
Option 1 – The snap out of it one.
Option 2 – Or if you want to do something and try to salvage something, send a mail saying you think there has been a misunderstanding, and explain why. Then you have two further choices – either say it might be nice to contact each other occasionally (birthdays, Christmas and New Year?), or at least to agree to part on more civil terms than the last acrimonious exchange.
And what are the disadvantages of that option? Well, you don’t know if your ex-friend would even read the mail, let alone reply. You could get yet another cold rejection or no reply at all. You could be lucky and get a nice response. Unlikely, but hey you would have made the effort.
Would I do that? Would I hell. Because every time I think about it, I remember those last words he wrote and my fingers freeze up.
So dear readers, if you have got this far, I shall not be taking my own sound advice. But I may start a new blog. All interested readers who need something soporific can let me know if they want the url, either on here or on facebook.
One of our neighbours in Spain stopped by the other day to tell us her younger brother had died. Four months from diagnosis to death (from cancer). News like that always seems to put apparently petty squabbles into perspective.
And yet …… ever still seems such a long time to me. More fool me. And not just an April one.
ETA: Thanks to Bren for posting this sad but so relevant poem on her blog here