Monday, October 06, 2008


How to be a messenger without getting shot

I am sitting in my mother's front room-cum-study, tip-tap-tapping away on the computer. One of those charmless Microsoft "blwur-dumph!" noises announces the arrival of a mail in Outlook. A preview flashes up: the mail is from one of my mother's friends, rather gracelessly crying off on this week's scheduled trip to Portugal, leaving the mum without a travel companion.

I am torn: I do not wish to be the bearer of bad tidings. Neither do I wish to be so craven as to leave the message to upset my mother in the morning. Footsteps. Mother walks into the room and settles down at the table behind me, bearing a glass of wine, evidently in reasonably good spirits. What a pickle.

I decide that I must break the news about her flaky friend, and must do so in a suitably delicate manner (a courtesy, I might add, that the mum scant deserves: when she has bad news to tell, I generally get it right between the eyes.)

Ah, inspiration hits me.

ME (without turning round from the computer): So, Mum: what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages to travelling alone?

MUM: Well, you don't have to take crap from anyone, and you can make your own itinerary. It can be lonely though.

ME: Are there any places where you wouldn't be prepared to travel alone?

MUM: Hmmm... I think most Muslim countries.

ME: Right. How about Portugal?

MUM: ...


Thus was bad news broken with a bare minimum of breakage. Take heed, all those of you to whom the breaking of bad news brings bruising.

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