Talk Enough To People Who Will Listen

Or eventually, when you do speak, no-one will be able to stand the sound.

Loneliness need not necessarily accompany solitude. Nor will the lack of audience prevent someone from saying good and kind things. Sages, saints, and philosophers have long been able to formulate wisdom by themselves and share it with others in their writings.

But many people, when faced with a single existence, withdraw their ability to communicate along with other social skills – and the tightening – up may go for such a time that they can never exercise it again. That way madness lies…and social nuisance as well.

I see this every fortnight within a hobby club I attend. Most of the members are family men, or have been at one time. Most are retired, but some still work. They have it in common that some circle about them can hear them regularly. They canvas their thoughts and receive new ones that are not from a political computer or television screen. It makes them somewhat social and smooths their manners. I do not find the Wodehouse clubman in any of my companions but most are decent fellows.

Two are not. They are not polite, not mannerly, not quiet. They mock needlessly and sneer openly. They discover bigotries centred upon race, religion, and gender. They are royal pains in the ass. Yet they are guests, as I am, in the home of a gentleman – and as such are protected by all the laws of hospitality. The host recognises their behaviour and the effects it may have but confesses himself powerless to control it. He, too, is bound by those laws of hospitality.

I do not envy him. I have endured this sort of thing on some occasions in my own home and studio, and have learned to avoid it. It stops me extending a general club invitation to my studio for one of the modelling meetings…

But what would fix it? Nothing that either the host or I could do…only the corrective effect of family or social contact for the single people on a basis far more regular than fortnightly. They need to talk to people who will listen to them every day – and who will tell them to pull their heads in. And occasionally help them to do it with a punch. The basic need is regular communication.

It would be hard for them to do initially, but the benefit for their personalities would be wonderful.

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