So many words, for good or for ill, and I am losing the power to speak them simply because the opportunities to do so are fewer and fewer. Talking to myself is just not the same. Although I have had some excellent conversations with myself, they usually finish quite soon, mainly because I tend to agree with what I am saying. As I always win every argument with myself there’s no point in it. I am also rather tired of the old ladies’ croaky voice I sport when I haven’t spoken for a few days and the endless clearing it takes before I am satisfied with what comes out of my mouth.
The other day I went to the front gate to drag the bins back in after collection just as the postman drove up. He stopped, stuck his head out of the van and asked: “Are you Mrs. W?” “Yes,” I said and took the mail he was offering me. That, dear readers, was the sum total of my speech that day.
Zoom meetings are such clumsy tools; you may say 'better than nothing' and I would agree, but how tiresome all the same. In small groups, say four or so, you are all waiting for the previous speaker to finish. Unless someone says your name, calls you up, as it were, after this pause you all speak at once, and nobody hears what anyone is saying. One to one is possible if both of you are polite and neither of you hogs the conversation. It’s difficult to interrupt the flow politely when facing a screen.
Large meetings I find to be a nightmare. I was invited to join a group of fifty or so. The German Embassy had scheduled a virtual meeting with the subject of :”Brexit - now what?” for us Krauts resident in the UK. The speakers were ambassadorial experts on law, taxes, customs and excise, travel within the European Union and related matters, all of importance. All revised since Brexit. The experts were all men. By golly, don’t male experts talk. We could write in questions we had but were otherwise muted. And because the experts talked (and talked) our questions remained largely unanswered. I have a problem with long-windedness. I almost invariably switch off mentally. Being muted you can’t ask for the speaker to get to the point. I still don’t know if Aunt Betty can send me a jar of homemade jam without filling in reams of customs forms. And, of course, it would have been utterly impolite to ‘leave’ the meeting. Whereas, in real life, I can always find an excuse why I simply have to rush off, being properly, regretfully apologetic, of course.
For many years I have kept a diary, using 1000s and 1000s of words, maybe even millions. Because I am getting old I think of death and all the stuff I am leaving behind, unless I clear most of it away. Posterity is not going to want to preserve years of my pathetic scribblings; my children certainly won’t. At random, I picked exercise books of 81/83. Dear Readers, without hesitation, I can tell you, that if I met the past me I would not like her. It seems that I spent many bottles of ink and untold school exercise books to tell myself that my life was a disaster, that I really must do something about it, that nobody understood me or my sufferings. I was unkind to myself and everybody else, although there were few mentions of others, me being to a very large extent concerned only with spineless, whingeing me. Perhaps those particular months in 81/83 were particularly difficult, I no longer recall. What I will do, though, is read on, year after year. Surely not all the time before my new life with Beloved was miserable? He certainly wouldn’t have wanted to throw in his lot with a perpetual moaner?
If I come across anything worth repeating, I might repeat it here.
“Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.”