Some thoughts

Penzance, Hollywood and a Different Way of Loving – a response

So yes, here I am, yet again stuck “up country”, living in a caravan with a life that feels very much as though it is “on hold”. Getting through each day requires the most enormous effort.

In her post Teresa commented “it’s unspeakably hard for him”, and that’s the trouble, it is unspeakable in as much as I find it impossible to describe, that is, I am unable to find language I can use, which means it can all too easily seem as though I am fine. I am not, but you’ll need to take my word for that.


Teresa tells me that Ferret is clearly missing his Papa-Bean. How I transformed from a lad from Billingham (North East England) into an Italian is not clear to me – and as for the topic of my emotional relationship with Ferret and his with me, that’s best saved for another blog.

So, this being my response to Teresa’s post, my first question has to be, why has she used a picture of the wrong train? It is clearly not a sleeper. Granted, it is a picture of a train and it is standing at Penzance station, so surely that’s good enough? Well, no it isn’t, not for me. I let it pass when we put up her post, but I don’t like it being wrong and when I can get a photo of my next sleeper, I will fix the problem. I cannot find the language to explain to you just how much of a problem the “wrong” train is, but please trust me, it is far out of proportion to what you’d expect.

Where was I?

Ah yes, Hollywood. When it comes to things like railway platform greetings, I’ve spent years learning to fake it. Ok, not fake it exactly because the feelings are there, but I don’t have a set of physical actions and reactions that automatically switch in to match those feelings. Instead, I have a mental list of actions that may be appropriate to express such an emotion. Given the range of human emotional responses, I need a vast list, a list that I constantly have to add to and which I cannot possibly hope to remember.

Seeing your truly-missed loved one on a railway station after a long absence, is most definitely an emotion I know well. I am aware of the Hollywood response, but I have no understanding of how appropriate it is, what variations there are, which ones to use, and when. I end up so tied up in trying to work out the right thing to do (consulting that inner list), that the moment passes and I’ve done nothing. So, my poor love gets no information as to how much I have missed her.

Not fair is it?

But not fair to whom? In fact, both of us. It is clearly unfair to Teresa, but it is also unfair to me: how am I supposed to know how to communicate what I feel? The rules required are incredibly complex. I don’t have them built in, so I have to think through every possible permutation. Is it any wonder I freeze?

I need rules for that list of mine and it’s so long and complex that they need to be really simple rules – e.g.

  • When meeting Teresa at a railway station, do ‘Hollywood’
  • Teresa will be happy whatever version of Hollywood I manage on the day.

Every waking moment in which I am called upon to interact with other people, is like this. I am constantly trying to gauge the right response to every situation when there is an infinite number of subtly nuanced possibilities.

Just to get you started, let’s look at the “simple” instruction above:

  • When meeting Teresa at a railway station, do ‘Hollywood’
    1. Does that mean if the meeting is not at a station, I don’t do Hollywood?
    2. What other ‘meeting’ occasions might require the Hollywood response?
    3. How many variations are there on Hollywood and which one do I select?
    4. Is it the same if I’ve been away for the day as it is for an absence of a week or a month?
    5. Is there something other than Hollywood I should sometimes be doing?

This can go on for ever, and is an example of my own personal perpetual-motion machine. There are an infinite number of nuances to human emotional response and so I have to enumerate (maths talk for ‘work out’) every single one!

So if at any time I don’t react to you as you might expect, the chances are I’m busy trying to compute the correct response to such a simple greeting as “hello”. What is the appropriate facial expression? What words should I use? What body position or action? Do I hug, shake hands, kiss, … On a bad day, my brain literally melts and I just freeze (which is an interesting combination of activities). You may think I’m being rude and ignoring you, but I’m not, I’m just trapped in that infinite loop.

The more tolerant you are of me being over/under the top, the easier it is for me to do something that approximates an appropriate response.

So that’s how the average greeting is for me and if “hello” is that difficult, how do you think questions like, “do you love me” work?

This constant computation is exhausting. Writing this is exhausting. I really think I need to go now…

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