Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Power junkies

I've never understood those people who're obsessed with power. People who're desperate to be the Prime Minister, or the chief exec of some huge company, or a police officer or a judge. Some job in which they can disrupt other people's lives, tell them what to do and what not to do, cause them pleasure or misery.

I'm reflecting on power junkies because of Boris Johnson's frantic attempts to be reinstated as prime minister and his reluctance to accept that he's had his day, he's disgraced himself, and he ought to just sit quietly on parliament's back benches.

I've never wanted power. I was always happy in quite low-level jobs where I had no power over anyone but I was just enjoying what I did.

In any case, people who gain power often find they don't have as much power as they were expecting. Former prime ministers for example have complained that their hands were often tied by legal restraints, rebellious MPs, unpredictable voters, media scrutiny and unexpected crises. How much power you have is always subject to other people's behaviour.

But that doesn't stop people wanting power. They love the adrenaline surge of having control over other people's lives, as well as always being in the public eye and indulging their pet obsessions. And like Boris, once they lose that power, they're desperate to have it back.

And unfortunately they often misuse that power. We're all aware of the regular reports of bribery, corruption, sexual abuse and nepotism linked to people in high office. They think they can get away with it and they frequently do.

I'm glad the power gene passed me by.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Back home

I never considered moving back to my parents' house as a young adult, but more and more children are doing so as the cost of living crisis continues.

The number of adult children living with their parents in the UK has jumped to five million, with more than half those aged 19 to 23 doing so.

Parents aren't necessarily happy about it, if they've got used to having the home for themselves. And they may be distressed that their child is finding life so difficult.

I never thought of returning to the parental home, as I'd never been close to my parents, and as my father had taken an active dislike to me. We'd have driven each other nuts in no time. In any case, I would have felt very restricted by having always to allow for my parents' attitudes and scrutiny.

Also there was no cost of living crisis at the time (the seventies in London). My year as an undergraduate was paid for by the state so I had no outstanding student loans. I lived in a rented bed sit with minimal costs for gas and electricity. I didn't need a car as public transport was excellent. My salary was more than adequate. So there was nothing to make reverting to the parental home a serious option.

So what if I'd got on famously with my parents and my financial situation was dire, would I have moved back in with them? Maybe. But I'd have to have got on with them extremely well. And how many children get on with their parents extremely well (as opposed to somehow rubbing along)? Not that many, from what I can gather.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Who is Jane?

Most novelists seem to assume that their readers all have photo-graphic memories and can follow every twist and turn of their books without the author's help. Even if the plot is labyrinthine and the book is overflowing with characters, you're expected to keep track of it all quite effortlessly.

Unfortunately some of us have such appalling memories we find it hard to keep up and could do with a little assistance from the author to ward off galloping confusion.

The sort of thing that bugs me:

  • A chapter that starts without naming the character and you're supposed to know who it is by their physical description on page two.
  • Mention of a character's tragic accident sometime in the past, and you're meant to remember what was the tragic accident.
  • A character who refers to his "harrowing" divorce. Why was it harrowing? Was that explained somewhere?
  • A character with a voluminous back story that's impossible to remember but fifty pages on it becomes crucial to the plot and you're meant to be familiar with it.
  • A character called Jane suddenly appears on page 77. Is this a new character or was she mentioned earlier in the book?
Well, you get the general idea. Maybe some authors think it's insulting people's intelligence to keep clarifying details you might have forgotten. But that's preferable to finishing a book in a state of confusion because the reader is assumed to be absorbing everything with sponge-like efficiency. I'm afraid not. My memory is more like some slippery surface that things may or may not stick to.

How wonderful it would be if on seeing Jane on page 77 I'd think, Ah yes, she's Tim's cousin, she has short cropped hair, she's allergic to peanuts and her roof leaks.

Fat chance.

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Even worse

Three years ago, I lamented that the assumption that every succeeding generation would do better for themselves than the previous one seemed to be dead and buried. I noted all the ways in which the young were now worse off than their parents and grandparents. I never imagined things would get even worse. But they have.

Job conditions and salaries are worse, homes are even less affordable, zero-hours and part-time contracts are more common, personal debt is colossal, there are even longer waits for medical treatment, and the interest rate for student loans has increased.

When I look back on my younger days, it's hard to believe I had it so good. Salaries were generous, homes were relatively cheap, most jobs were permanent (and often included annual bonuses), I was never in debt (except later on with a mortgage), and medical treatment was prompt.

My year as an undergraduate now seems extraordinary. I got free tuition, a maintenance grant and a travel grant. If I did a degree now, I'd be up to my eyeballs in debt, and paying it off for years to come.

Some youngsters blame us oldies for this deterioration, which is nonsense because we oldies have always wanted people's lives to get better, not worse. It's the politicians who've presided over a flagging economy and crumbling public services. It was Prime Minister Tony Blair who ended free university tuition in 1998. It's successive governments that have allowed the growth in precarious job contracts. And it's the present government that has allowed the NHS to fall apart.

It must be very upsetting for parents that their children will be so much worse off. They must have wondered whether to have children at all, given the bleak future they'll be up against.

Friday, 3 March 2023

Doubt sets in

I've got to the age when I start to doubt some of my memories, seeing as they're so long ago and there may be nobody to corroborate them.

Certain memories I can rely on because there's physical evidence of them. I know I went to a certain prep school because the school's still there. Ditto my boarding school, my various workplaces, the houses and flats I've lived in, the cities I've visited, the famous people I've met. And so on.

But when it comes to entirely subjective memories, ones stored only inside my own head, after all this time can I really be sure they happened? Or that they happened in the way I seem to remember?

Was I really almost crushed by a falling chimney? Did I really almost drown at Southend beach? Was I really almost run over by a speeding car? Was I really bullied at boarding school as much as I make out? Did I really lock myself out of a hotel bedroom in Paris? Or are these memories greatly embroidered, or even totally fabricated? Am I confusing my own memories with something I read somewhere? There's no one to confirm that yes, my memories are accurate and not just a tangle of distortions and make-believe.

We all know that if we ask a dozen people for their recollections of an event, their accounts will probably differ wildly and the objective truth may be hard to find. In which case my own memories may be equally unreliable.

Unlike some celebs, I've never been tempted to re-invent my childhood to make it look more dramatic or exciting or extraordinary. My memory is so poor that a week later I would have forgotten what I invented.

Monday, 27 February 2023

Unloved amendments

A huge controversy over the news that Puffin Publishing have made a stack of amend-ments to books by the children's author Roald Dahl after a "review of the language" to make them more suitable for younger readers.

Words like "fat" and "idiot" and "ugly" have been removed on the basis (I assume) that they might encourage impressionable youngsters to be abusive and judgmental.

However there has been vociferous criticism of the changes from all and sundry, including the Prime Minister and the Queen Consort. They defend the original texts and don't see why they should be altered. They say the changes mute the vigour of the books, which thousands of children are still enjoying, although Dahl himself died in 1990.

Surely it's all rather a storm in a teacup. I can't see what's wrong with a few reasonable changes to his books to reflect modern life and remove possibly offensive language. It's not as if Dahl's books are being totally rewritten and turned into something unrecognisable as his.

Anyone who objects to the original texts is free to stop buying them and find something more "wholesome" for their kids to read. No one is forcing them to read Roald Dahl. Why not keep printing the original versions for those who enjoy them, and just ignore those who don't?

As far as I know, none of his extensive family have objected to the changes. It would be interesting to know what they think.

PS: Books are routinely altered, and sometimes totally rewritten, after a publisher's editor has looked at them. But nobody complains about that.

PPS: Puffin say they will in future publish both the original and amended texts.

PPPS: Alice in Wonderland might need some changes, especially to the Red Queen who keeps threatening to behead everyone!

Thursday, 23 February 2023

Curiouser and curiouser

I'm a naturally curious person, and Jenny is even more so, which is one reason we get on so well, I guess.

I'm insatiably curious about all sorts of strange things. Such as:

  • The relentless social media trolling of public figures
  • The damaging effects of second homes on localities
  • Over-tourism likewise
  • The survival tactics of squirrels
  • What cats might be thinking
  • Detransitioners and "gender identity"
  • The re-writing of popular books to prevent offensiveness
  • Why people have cosmetic surgery
  • Advances in medical treatment
  • Witch-hunting cults
  • The shortage of women's toilets
  • The psychological toll of sudden fame
I'm not content to simply "take things as they come". I'm not content with superficial knowledge. I want to know more. I want to know why people behave in a certain way, why crazy ideas become fashionable, why people's lives go off the rails.

My mum was remarkably uncurious. I could spend an hour or two with her and she'd show no curiosity about anything. She would follow the news but never questioned any of it. Although she knew I was left-wing (while she was very right-wing) she never probed me about my opinions, she just ignored them.

But how can people not be curious? The world is so full of bizarre and inexplicable behaviour, how can anyone not want to ask a hundred questions? How can anyone just carry on as if nothing unusual is happening?

People often lose their child-like curiosity as they get older. According to behaviourist Ian Leslie we ask 40,000 questions a year between the ages of two and five - around 110 each day - while adults ask a mere 20. No wonder so many peculiar ideas become mainstream - not enough people query them.

Curiosity killed the cat? What nonsense.

Sunday, 19 February 2023

It could be worse

It always annoys me when people don't take other people's difficulties seriously but casually dismiss them on the basis that "others have it so much worse."

How often do you hear someone saying that X shouldn't be depressed or anxious or distressed because they have a great life compared to people in other countries who have real problems to worry about, like drought and famine and earthquakes and civil war. They should consider themselves lucky to have such minor problems.

But those problems aren't minor to the people coping with them. Severe psychological blocks that interfere with your life and your relationships need to be properly responded to and not dismissed out of hand.

It all assumes a sort of "league table of suffering" in which one person's suffering is rated as low down the table and someone else's suffering is way up at the top. As if X's suffering is not true suffering but Y's suffering is the real thing.

But suffering is suffering. Is my desperate grief over the loss of a loved one any less important than the misery of an earthquake victim who has lost her home? To an onlooker, one might seem less significant than the other, but to the person concerned their distress might be totally overwhelming and incapacitating.

Certainly I'd be pretty pissed off if I was severely depressed and someone said to me "Oh, you're not really depressed, Nick. You're simply not the type. You're as tough as old boots. Just give yourself a good talking-to and you'll be fine." Which would be about as helpful as a kick up the bum.

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Space hogging

Some axe-grinding journalists do their best to make couples like us, living in large houses, guilty about our "space hogging" and insist we should be selling up to a family and down-sizing.

Well, it's a nice controversial subject for their next column, but they conveniently ignore all the good justifications for staying put and not moving.

Firstly, our house may be large but all the rooms but one are in regular use. We now have our own separate studies, which we didn't have in our previous house. And we have two bathrooms so there's no one banging urgently on the bathroom door.

Secondly, if there had been a lot more houses built over the last 20 years or so, there would be plenty of family-size houses and nobody would need to vacate a large house. Even if thousands of people sold their large houses right now, there would still be a drastic housing shortage.

Thirdly, a lot of elderly couples are staying in large houses because they intend to leave them to their children when they die. The bigger the house, the more it will be worth and the more benefit it will be to a large family.

Fourthly, a lot of elderly people living in large houses also give money to their children to help them buy a house of their own ("The bank of mum and dad"). In which case they're not depriving their children of a house.

Fifthly, many families couldn't afford to buy a larger house because of the price differential between small and large houses.

Is this just a desperate defence of our raging greed? I hope not.

These sanctimonious journalists should think more carefully before they lay into us "space hogging" home owners.

How big are their own homes, I wonder?

Saturday, 11 February 2023

Unwanted busybodies

The mysterious disappearance of Lancashire woman Nicola Bulley has brought dozens of amateur detectives out of the woodwork, convinced they know something the police don't know and confident they can find her.

These hot-headed vigilantes are proving to be a total nuisance, upsetting Nicola's family and friends, obstructing the police and pestering local residents. The police have had to issue a 48-hour dispersal order for the village of St Michael's on Wyre and have warned people about their behaviour. A private security firm is now patrolling the village.

The wannabe sleuths have been breaking into derelict houses looking for signs of Nicola's presence. They've been taking intrusive videos. They've been speculating wildly about Nicola's whereabouts. They've been abusing witnesses. And they've been trespassing on private land.

Nicola's friend Heather Gibbons said "We are at the point where people coming to help look for Nicki are actually doing the complete opposite."

What prompts people to be such a pain the neck, persistently getting in the way of the police and having to be warned off? Who invited them to barge in and air their wild theories about Nicola's disappearance? And why do they think they know better than the professional investigators?

If they had a grain of common sense and tact, instead of making a distressing situation even more distressing for those directly affected, they would content themselves with following the inquiry in the rest of the media like the rest of us. But no, they have to get in on the act, no matter how much of a nuisance they're causing.

At this rate, the police will have to seal off the entire village to keep out the unwanted busybodies.

Update: Nicola's body was pulled from the River Wyre on February 20

Pic: the spot where Nicola was last seen

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Economically inactive

The Chancellor is obsessed with getting the "economically inactive" back to work to relieve labour shortages and increase his tax take. In particular he's focusing on the 50 to 65 year olds.

Well, Jenny and I are both economically inactive (unless you count spending money!) and very happy to stay that way. Neither of us have any intention of doing the Chancellor's bidding.

Most organisations would reject me anyway at my advanced age, though Jenny (who's ten years younger) might be favourably considered.

But it would take a hell of a lot to tempt either of us to go back to the world of work. Given that we now have total freedom over our life and what to do with it, why would we want to return to some regimented workplace with its tedious tasks, its incompetent and overbearing managers, irritating workmates and wearisome commutes?

Even if we were offered lavish salaries, generous annual leave and hefty bonuses, we still wouldn't be interested. Retirement suits us just fine and we have no wish to emerge from it.

Neither of us take after those strange individuals who carry on working into their eighties and nineties, without any desire to become couch potatoes or potter round the garden.

In any case the Chancellor doesn't seem to realise that many people are "economically inactive" for a very good reason. They're looking after their parents or grandchildren, they're seriously ill, they don't need the money, or they can now devote more time to the favourite hobby that work got in the way of.

Sorry, Jeremy, you'll have to look elsewhere for your missing wage slaves.

Friday, 3 February 2023

Doggie handling

People are regularly bitten by dogs, and this often sets off a lifelong fear of dog bites. Luckily I've never been bitten by a dog so I'm not afraid of them. Partly that's because I have some idea of what causes a dog to bite.

In January a dog walker was mauled to death in Surrey. It's not clear why they got out of control, but she was walking eight dogs and I guess if one of them got a bit agitated the others might have got equally agitated and turned on her.

The number of injuries from dog bites is rising. Between 1998 and 2018, hospital admissions for dog-related injuries doubled in England, with about 8,000 people now admitted each year.

I'm not afraid of being bitten because I know that bites are usually a response to fear and so I take care not to approach a dog that looks a bit nervous or alarmed and I certainly wouldn't try to stroke or fondle it. I was reading today that a wagging tale doesn't necessarily mean a dog is happy to be approached, it only signifies some strong emotion - it could be enjoyment but it could equally be anxiety or fear.

I often stroke dogs that are tied outside a shop because they're usually glad of the attention they're not getting from the owner. I always feel sorry for them because they look a bit bewildered, wondering if and when their owner is going to reclaim them.

We had two Scottish terriers when I was a child, and they never bit anyone, even though the first one was neurotic enough to abruptly sink its teeth into someone. Jenny and I have never had a pet dog or cat because it would demand too much attention - not to mention visits to the vet and holiday arrangements.

Dogs, like humans, need careful handling.

Monday, 30 January 2023

False assumptions

I suppose we all make grand assumptions about other people based on the little we know of them - how they behave, how they look, how they speak. Such assumptions are probably wrong as often as they're right. Certainly people have made some very odd assumptions about me. For example:

  • Because I'm still thin, then I must work out at the gym (I've never been in a gym)
  • Because I'm a well-spoken white male, then I must have been head of some prestigious organisation (I was mostly a bookseller)
  • Because I go for walks in a tatty jacket and ancient jeans, and we have a nine year old Renault Clio, then I must be poor (which I'm not)
  • Because I live in a very large house, then I must be wealthy (which I'm not)
  • Because I'm fairly fit and healthy, and free of addictions and psychological disorders, then I'm smug and self-righteous (which I'm not)
  • Because only 9.3 per cent of Northern Irish folk are atheist, then I'm religious (which I'm not)
Of course I make umpteen assumptions about other people, and probably most of them are wrong. I make assumptions about how intelligent someone is or their political beliefs or what food they eat or how well-organised they are.

I assume that someone has seldom left their neighbourhood, only to find they've travelled all over the world. I assume that someone rarely reads a book, only to find they've read all the classics I've never read.

Well, there's no harm in making false assumptions, I suppose, as long as I'm prepared to correct those assumptions if they prove to be nonsense.

As for those assumptions that I'm simultaneously a hopeless romantic and a hardened cynic, that wouldn't be far from the truth.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

No going back, thanks

Some people say they'd give anything to be young again. Others say, you must be joking, I had a terrible childhood, no way I would want to repeat it.

I must say I'm firmly in the latter camp. As some of you already know, I had a bad-tempered and self-righteous father who sent me to a boarding school that was totally unsuited to my personality. And when I went there I was bullied by some of the other boys for not being stylish or laid-back enough. Not to mention the poor-quality teaching and regimented daily routine.

So I'm very glad I won't be young again, but others have much more positive memories of nurtured talents, blossoming friendships and inspiring teachers.

My sister had a much more enjoyable childhood. She was an obedient child who managed to keep our father sweet and who attended a local school that suited her more straightforward personality. And having lived with motor neurone disease for 18 years, she might well wish she was young and healthy again.

Of course those people who would love to be young again are surely forgetting how much wisdom and experience they've accumulated in the intervening years. Would they really want to relive a time when they saw everything with such innocent and gullible eyes and all the subtleties and profundities passed them by?

And surely they've forgotten that they were totally controlled by their parents, which was fine if they felt cherished and appreciated but not so fine if they didn't. A lot of children can't wait to break free of their parents and start their own independent life.

Without doubt, the twenty years of my life just gone have been far and away more enjoyable and fulfilling than the first twenty.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Jealousy deficit

Jealousy is something I don't understand. I've never resented other people's achievements or skills or possessions or advantages in life. I've never been suspicious of what my spouse might be doing behind my back. I'm quite happy with my own life and don't need to behave like a neurotic child.

Some people get so irrationally jealous they resort to absurd acts of destruction and violence. A man shreds all his girlfriend's clothes or vandalises her car. Or he goes to her supposed lover's house and throws paint over all the windows.

My father was the jealous type. He was always suspicious of my mother's friends and wanted to know exactly what she was doing if she was out somewhere. He even imagined she was having lesbian affairs with her female friends. She never showed the slightest hint of lesbianism but that didn't put him off.

I don't take after him at all. I know lots of people who're more intelligent, more talented, better educated, wealthier, with beautiful houses, with fewer hang-ups, but I'm not jealous of them or even mildly envious. I just think, well, good for them, they're luckier than me in all sorts of ways, they seem to have great lives, but I don't need to resent them because my own life has worked out very well and why spend my time hankering after what someone else has got?

What bothers me isn't other people's achievements but their need to make sure everyone knows about them. They have to casually mention that little Benjamin attends the best school in the neighbourhood. Or that they got their house for £20,000 less than the asking price. Or that they flew business class to somewhere or other. Such relentless boasting gets rather tedious.

"The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves." - William Penn

Monday, 16 January 2023

Not likeable

The new film Tár, about the (fictitious) downfall of Lydia Tár, a feted female conductor, has attracted some very odd criticism. In particular that such a predatory and abusive character should have been portrayed as a man and not a woman, and that the character "isn't likeable".

Good grief. When did characters in movies (or TV dramas or books) have to be likeable? If that was the case, hundreds of movies and books would have to be pulped immediately. Mean and nasty characters are commonplace, from Hannibal Lecter to Lord Voldemort to Humbert Humbert.

Fictional characters aren't meant to be likeable. Crazy or mysterious or plain horrible but not necessarily likeable. In children's books perhaps but not in adult reading.

The other gripe some people have about fictional characters is that they're not "realistic". Heaven help us. If you want realistic, you should be heading for the mass media, not books or movies. In any case, one person's realistic is another's totally incredible, so you can't win on that one.

One criticism I would share is the objection to gratuitous violence. People recoiled from Bonnie and Clyde because of its graphic savagery. The New York Times complained that the movie's brutal killings were "pointless and lacking in taste". The suggestion of violence, or simply a powerful sense of menace, can be just as effective as explicit violence.

But I guess daft criticism, like poverty, is always with us.

Pic: Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Non believer

It's about time I nailed my colours to the mast and confessed that I don't believe in gender identity and I don't believe transwomen are women. We're either male or female, we behave in ways that are seen as masculine or feminine, and that's it. And it's absolutely impossible to change sex.

Apparently that makes me transphobic, bigoted, fascistic and anti-semitic (and in some cases even anti-abortion). I need to wise up, educate myself, and show some kindness towards the most oppressed and suicidal minority in the world. And if I try to defend my views, I'll be shunned and no-platformed.

But the way "trans" people are currently viewed is relatively recent and very different from how they were viewed (and viewed themselves) just a few decades ago.

In the last century, male transsexuals, as they were then known, lived as women but never for a moment believed they were real women. Neither did they believe they had actually changed sex. There were very few of them and because of that they were fairly easily accepted as make-believe women.

That's all changed and now it's not enough to see them "living as" women. We're expected to see them as the real thing, identical to those women who've been born and brought up as women. If they "feel like" women, then that's what they are, and it's not open for discussion.

Prominent public figures who oppose the new transgender beliefs have been viciously trolled and denigrated, often the target of death threats and in some cases forced out of their jobs. Their requests for an open-minded debate on transgender, recognising different opinions, are ignored.

A huge number of people actually disagree with the new thinking, but hesitate to speak up for fear of the consequences. So the nonsense proliferates.

Pic: Professor Kathleen Stock, who was forced out of her post at Sussex University after a militant campaign by trans activists.

Sunday, 8 January 2023

But is it true?

Okay, that's quite enough extroversion/ introversion/ shyness/ awkwardness etc. So now for something completely different.

There has been much talk recently about films and TV series that are seen by many as authentic document-aries although they are heavily fictionalised and may bear little relation to the truth.

The TV series The Crown was widely criticised as a travesty that totally misrepresents the Royal Family. The actor Judi Dench accused the show of being "crude sensationalism" while former Prime Minister Sir John Major criticised his depiction in the programme and said that a scene involving conversations about the Queen abdicating was "a barrel-load of malicious nonsense".

Now Julia Stonehouse, daughter of the late Labour Minister John Stonehouse, who unsuccessfully faked his own death, supposedly to start a new life with his mistress in Australia, has criticised the new TV drama Stonehouse as full of lies and mixing fact with plenty of fiction.

John Preston, who produced the series, defends it by saying it's based on a true story but some scenes and characters have been imagined for dramatic purposes.

The problem is that viewers won't know what's true and what's invented, and they may very well believe the inventions rather than the reality. Julia Stonehouse says her family has been plagued for almost 50 years by false press reports, books, TV programmes and now podcasts. Trying to correct all the nonsense is an uphill task.

Personally I think programmes purporting to be a genuine documentary should either explain  from the start that none of it is necessarily the truth, or it should set out to be the unalloyed truth throughout.

Mixing truth with undeclared fabrication for entertainment purposes is surely reckless and irresponsible and I don't understand why such stuff is permitted.

Pic: Julia Stonehouse

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Oiling the wheels

I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that extroversion is the healthy norm, while introversion is an inconvenient aberration.

It's extroverts who oil the wheels of social activity, chatting to people, making connections, keeping things going. Introverts on the other hand, by keeping to themselves and avoiding contact with others, aren't keeping anything going but are leaving other people to do the social donkey work.

And I say that as an introvert myself. Of course I can make all the usual excuses for my behaviour. I was brought up in a very anti-social household, I just happen to be an introvert and that's hard to change, or most social events are banal and tedious so why bother to attend them?

But perhaps instead of trotting out the familiar excuses (which no doubt extroverts are sick of hearing), I should figure out how to engage other people and make more connections with them?

I sometimes imagine what life would be like if most people were introverts and only a few were extroverts. It would surely be a disaster. Everyone keeping to themselves and ignoring other people. Social activities fading away. Nobody to promote new initiatives. And the remaining extroverts afraid of being too exuberant or talking too much or generally alienating the introverts.

Am I being too hard on myself? Am I exaggerating the downside of introversion? Am I exaggerating the benefits of extroversion? Am I conveniently ignoring those extroverts who love the sound of their own voice and jabber away non-stop? Am I ignoring those extroverts who are simply tactless and embarrassing?

The jury's still out. I'm still mulling it all over. So watch this space.

PS: I think I might be a sort of shy extrovert - an underlying extrovert who's shy about letting my extroversion rip.