Wednesday 19 May 2010


The vacuum has been caused by a visit to a loved-one in Scotland. I still haven't found the courage to take my lap-top with me, even if it were sensible to add weight to a bag I have to rely on others to lift on and off trains for me. I missed you all, so am happy to be back. But Scotland is delicately exquisite in May. Where I was, there are hundreds of lambs with black faces and protective mothers. Everything is in bloom and proliferating. Hedgerows are full of primroses and bluebells and campions, all at the same time. I have never seen primroses and bluebells blooming together. Still, many a less expected liason has been known to work well.

The loved-one and I had many good conversations. During one, it emerged that what I saw as 'support' he saw as'collusion'. It struck me that there were quite a few split-hair possibilities of this kind. How this one came about: casually. I referred to someone I don't really know and he does as "what's-her-name". Suffice it to say that she has a way of life that, on a bad day, I could easily envy. He knows this and does not approve. After a moment - a long moment - he supplied her name, which, of course, I knew perfectly well. I went in to a thing about expecting his support and he replied that, on the contrary, I had been looking for him to collude with me in my view of her impact on my world. Thinking about it, still, I can't see how support can avoid being collusive on occasion. What do you think? Now , this is quite personal stuff to illustrate semantics so let us move on to the more intellectual. How about the difference between interest and curiosity? Interest seems rather benevolent. Curiosity can be tinged with that lovely, but naughty, Welsh past-time: gossip. I suspect that when we are curious about the doings of others there are a few ounces of malice in the mix. I suppose, though, the two are not so far apart when it comes to things of the intellect. There one can have a healthy curiosity, hurtful to no-one, and sufficient interest to do something about it. In my own experience, I find I am curious when not particularly fond of someone and interested when I am.

Fear and wish are worrying bed-fellows, too, but harder for me to see as interchangeable in daily use as, perhaps, the other examples are. You will be, naturally, conversant with the expression that one should be careful what one wishes for; the whole poisoned chalice thing. I have heard tell of a lady who married rather late in life having had the aim to be wed since she was six. It seems her spouse would not have been the easiest of people even had she been accustomed officially, to sharing her life with someone. Anyway, when asked some time later how she was enjoying her new life, she is said to have replied," Be careful what you wish for". Oops. The one I am really uncomfortable about, though, is beware of what you fear. Fear of loss, at its gravest, actually seems to attract loss. Illness, divorce, bereavement: I havent the statistics at my finger tips (literally, since I am typing), but observation confirms that the fearful do seem to suffer more than the breezily confident. When I was young, cancer was always referred to as 'C'. Sadly, many of those so afraid they couldn't say the whole word, did contract the disease. A woman who used to look forward, eagerly, to the friendship of her children when they were adults, always feared they may end up in Australia, as many Welshmen do. They did, or anyway, some of them did. She feels desolate, estranged and without accesible grandchildren. Self-fulfilling prophesy will probably cover it. We can't see electricity so there is no reason to expect to see the force of attraction that draws like a magnet our profoundest longings and direst fears.

I hope you have been interested rather than curious and will support my efforts to communicate the hidden complexities of our language to you - in my experience of it, anyway. Please, do collude with my wish for your goodwill by leaving a comment sometimes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think interest and curiosity are much closer than you portray them, Liz. Curiosity does not need to be negative, it can be what inspires us to look round the corner or get on a plane to Malaysia. It is usually more detached than interest or it can precede it, which is always a good sign. I hope to find curiosity in my students about things they had not thought to think about hitherto, and then I try hard to capture their interest (I teach composition and literature at an American liberal arts university; which means that some of the students in my classes are not there by choice, being, for example, Business or Management majors (ie their main subject). How refreshing it is to spy curiosity in young people - does it grow or wane as we get older? I think mine has grown. But fear .. well, that's another subject. My fear has grown, too. Pity.
PS Loved the description of Scottish Spring - thanks for yourlovely blogs, Liz.