By Paul Lester
November 7, 2008
I'm not sure if you noticed, hopefully you did, but my column didn’t appear in the JC today due to circumstances beyond my control. I say beyond my control because it really wasn't down to me, but who should ring at 9am this morning, five minutes after the shops opened, but my ex-wife, who called from the newsagent, wondering where the hell the latest instalment of Suddenly Single was.
Don't get me wrong: I'm relieved that not only is she not annoyed by my mentioning her week in, week out, in the column but that she actively looks forward to it. I just wasn't expecting her to be annoyed by its non-appearance, as though it was somehow my fault.
But then, as my far as my ex-wife is concerned - far - everything is my fault. The Suez Crisis? That was me being lax with regard to foreign policy. Climate change? I shouldn't have used so many aerosols in the '80s. The assassination of JFK? If only I'd been on that grassy knoll instead of being glued to the TV, watching I Love Lucy.
You could almost see the speech bubble above her head: “You see?" I imagined her saying, because it was the kind of thing she would say. "I told you to buy shares in the JC. Then you’d have had more say in the decision-making process and the day-to-day running of the paper. You never listen!”
True, I have a problem with listening, and paying attention in general. Mainly because most of my time and attention is taken up with worrying. Because I worry a lot. I could worry for England, Europe and most of the Free World. I could give classes in disquiet. I've got a degree in Neurosis (a First, noch).
As soon as I open my eyes each morning, I start worrying. In fact, sometimes I set my alarm early just so I can get some worrying in before breakfast. I generally like to worry until lunchtime, then I take a quick break while I eat something unhealthy so I'll have something to worry about during that all-important post-prandial lull, then I carry on worrying for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Finally, after several hours' more energetic unease, I go to bed, exhausted from all the anxiety, only to wake up the next day and start again.
Memo to self: must stop worrying. I wonder if there's such a thing as a worry gland, and if you can wear it out from over-use? Great - something else to worry about.