One great thing about being here at this time of year is that you are never lost for words when meeting new people or bumping into acquaintances, for this reason:

“Gosh, it’s FREEZING today!” is a comfortable conversation starter, or is great if the chatter dies away immediately after the how-are-you’s.

Of course there are always exceptions to this rule when one half of the social situation is me.

Today I bumped into a friend I don’t see very often. I advanced, gesticulating excitedly towards him (as if to point out IT’S YOU! And ME! In the same corridor!), and said something along the lines of “Hello it’s you how are you what have you been up to how have you beeeeeeeen?!”.

He answered in a friendly way, saying it’ll be great to get to the end of term but yeah, he’s ok. “How are you?” he asked, smiling nicely- which is perhaps what led me to feel that it would not be uncomfortable or strange to answer honestly.

“Oh great, yeah…well, except I’ve got a big coldsore”- I point to said disfiguring lump on lip- “And I’m pretty tired but that’s just the end of term, you know….Uh, hence the massive coldsore! ” – I laugh gaily as I attempt to cover my horror at the realisation that I have just pointed out my facial herpes to someone I don’t know that well .

And just in case he hadn’t fully comprehended the depths of my social ineptitude, I wrote on his facebook wall when I got home, apologizing for pointing out the coldsore. Perhaps I should speak to the careers advisor about becoming a hermit. On second thoughts, perhaps not. It really is cold up here at the moment, and I don’t think many caves come with radiators.

“I have erred against every commonplace notion of decorum; I have been open and sincere where I ought to have been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful: had I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I spoken only once in ten minutes, this reproach would have been spared.” – ‘Sense and Sensibility’, Jane Austen.


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