Friday 19 March 2010

Communication, again

First, I must expand on my "ironing" post. I would simply have edited it but I see that a goodly number of you have already read it. I made an analogy beween ironing and therapy and had a moment of take-aback when I wondered if the analogy were a good one, that the ironed-out creases of wrinkled lives would come back as quickly as those in a pressed linen skirt. That was my concern, but, of course, the analogy doesn't really work because all one can really do in the therapeutic process is to help people understand both that they do have an in-built self- iron and also that some creases are not only inevitable but liveable with, too. After all, life is short; one doesn't have to live it exclusively in the laundry.

That's quite enough over-stretching of a straightforward metaphor and I know you will all have leapt on the failure of communication it implies. What drew my attention back to communication, from which it rarely strays, of course, was an email telling me of the death of the Mother of a friend who is dear to me. I have gone on a bit, as you will recall, about electronic communication and the contemporary pitfalls of what I see as its gross over use. It was, in fact, quite a shock to open the computer and see "Ocado: this week's special offer" , "Virgin Media Newsletter" and then this death notice. However, I was seriously grateful to have been told and so much more quickly than via what has become a rather unreliable postal service. The lady concerned had lived a very long time, had a huge family and untold numbers of friends and friends of her family. I can see that it would have been a logistic nightmare to make known her death by any other means of communication. There was an announcement in the paper but how much more human and personal was the "Dear Liz" email in among the rubbish. (I can't believe I have said that. There you are, the Guru's attempts to drag me in to the 21st Century may be working in spite of myself). Nor would I have wanted my friend, her daughter, to have put herself through unimagineable numbers of telephone calls re-iterating the immense news that an era was over.

There are limits for me, though. I didn't feel I could email back. I wrote an old-fashioned letter of condolence. I was very conscious of my own Mother breathing down my neck. She died before the electronic age really took off. I found a cache of hundreds of letters she had kept after various deaths in the family, and births, for that matter. It will be much harder to keep emails. Confession: if I get one I may want to hold on to, I print it off and file it. ( That's not true. I put it on the desk in order to file it. Yes, yes, I know you know I never do and the clutter just grows). Nor is it environmentally friendly to print things. Oh dear: maybe the Guru is not doing such a good job after all. He sent me a text message, the other day, about his safe arrival after a complex journey. I was pleased; I had heard before I was anywhere near the worry time. I remembered my Mother, in the country during the war when I was small, trying to get through to my Father in a town that had suffered horrific bombardment because it was a significant seaport. The local Operator had to be called by clicking hard and continuously on the bar of the telephone receiver. When it was finally our turn, we had to wait until she could raise a colleague in that town only to be told that the lines were down. Nearly an hour this all took and no nearer knowing if he were safe or not at the end of it. He was, but many were not and the town burned for three nights and three days. My Goodness, that makes me 75 going on 6. C U l8r.

No comments: