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What to do?

September 25, 2020

Now that the live online theatrical performances are over and time is once again much on my hands, I’m alternating between feeling ever so slightly guilty that I’ve yet to respond to the last email from this “brother” of mine and feeling no guilt whatsoever. (Sorry, but the word brother just had to go in quotes.) Before starting to write this I did actually begin to draft a reply. Whether I will finish it (never mind send it) remains to be seen.

He asked (as I’d made a point of not telling him when I sent the pop quiz) who would be on my fantasy dinner party guest list of six people, living or dead. So in my draft reply I told him: Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward (old standbys) and the more recent additions of Caitlin Moran, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mick Herron*. I think we can agree that, with the exception of Barack Obama on his guest list, my dinner party would be a helluva lot more entertaining than his. Unlike me (eww) on his list, he definitely did not make mine.

In response to his hope that I didn’t think poorly of him because he’d rather read a car magazine than a novel, I plan to send him this link and let him figure it out for himself.

After answering my questions, he asked some of his own: Favourite place to travel, favourite food and the ever popular “What have you learned in life that you wish you knew in your 20s?”

Favourite travel destination? Easy peasy: going home to London.

Favourite food? Not so easy, but, if I had to pick the cuisine of just one country, because it includes lasagna and risotto and pizza, I guess I’d go with Italian. (But I’d certainly miss Thai and Sichuan.)

The third question involved going back to my teens, not my twenties. I wish I’d known when I was 16 that one day I’d be working as a toxics campaigner for Greenpeace. If I had known that I might not have been so keen to drop chemistry and biology in school and would therefore not have had quite such a steep learning curve. (Another thing I wish I’d known in my teens: Just because you know you’re a lot smarter than someone doesn’t mean you have to make this clear to them.)

Oh, crap. What to do? Send him my answers with no added information just to be polite? He’s so eager, I do feel a bit sorry for him, but is that a good thing? Write to him and tell him that, having thoroughly considered the matter, I really have no interest in acquiring a boring brother at this point in my life? (As a friend so accurately observed, you could tolerate a boring brother if you were obliged to do so by a lifelong affiliation, but “as one auditioning for the part so to speak,” not so much. Wise words.) Or do I just leave him hanging, never contact him again? No, the latter is too cruel – and cowardly.

And here, folks, I really would appreciate some advice. (Also curious to know who would make your fantasy dinner party guest list.) Please use comments section below.

While I think about, I’m going to go to the hardware store and buy a generator. That decision was easy.

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* Whilst eagerly awaiting the next instalment of Mick Herron’s Slow Horses saga, I’ve been diving into his Zoe Boehm private detective series, which I’m also loving. There was one observation in Smoke and Whispers that I particularly loved: “It wasn’t rats that bothered her. It was spiders. They had them in the country, too, which was the single worst thing about living in the country. Including the hunting lobby.”

As a Londoner who endured the Countryside Alliance invading the city (pretending they gave a toss about farmers when all they really cared about was continuing to hunt foxes on horseback with a pack of hounds) and as someone who ended up working for a while for the League Against Cruel Sports, that line made me laugh out loud and for quite a while. No wonder Herron’s on my dinner party list.

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3 Comments
  1. krysross permalink

    oh, okay,. So are most of yours.

  2. janeshead permalink

    The brother question…Maybe be distantly polite? (Politely distant?) You can accept him as a brother but that doesn’t mean you have to try to be close. I have cousins that I totally accept are relations but we haven’t been in touch in decades. If one of them did contact me, I think I’d be, yeah, politely distant. We have nothing in common but blood.

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