Happy talking talking


Before we take another step, do not read the James Lovelock interview in the Guardian. It sort of forms the whole point of this story, but I really don’t want to crap on your day. See, I read it and felt so awful afterwards that I spoiled a rare evening in the pub and woke up at 4 the next morning, so gripped with terror about the future (mine and the planet’s – shamingly in that order) that even whimpering didn’t help. Horrible. [In brief: it’s too late to do anything to reverse the damage we’ve done to the planet. Enjoy the next 20 years, because after that it will really kick off]

A few hours later I was on the train heading west to a funeral (yes, I CAN see that the prospect of this may have turned up the existential gas a notch or two) shakily sipping tea and trying to think positive thoughts. Raindrops on roses, brown paper packages tied up with string and crisp apple strudel all trundled past on the mental conveyor belt, to no avail. Phone a friend, I thought, before realising that a railway carriage at 70 per cent capacity is hardly the place to start bugling one’s despair. So I texted.

Now, I am not prone to existential wibbles, night terrors or losing the plot, as my correspondent well knows, so I indulged the blues and pressed send. Except my phat-phingered phuck-up directed it not to the friend but to a former colleague, who divides his time equally between Dublin and one-line-up in my contacts list. A charming chap, but we haven’t spoken in 10 years. No! No! Nonononono! An emergency response was scrambled, a massed attack of So-sorries, my-mistakes, how-are-you-anyways sent across the Irish Sea. And then a pause before his response, a politely puzzled throat-clearing and a lightly chilled suggestion to ‘Perhaps go out and enjoy the sunshine’. Christ, what if he thinks I’m suicidal or something?

Counterintuitively, this mortifying exchange in fact cheered me no end. Blushing to the roots of my roots and honking with horrified laughter had blasted me out of my silly emotional quagmire. Bloody drama queen. All of which I flustered in what now seems like an overcorrection that earned me another short silence and then a glacial two-worder from Dublin: Take care. 

Death. Wish. Three. The phone was back in the bag and I looked out of the window for the rest of the way.


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