‘Are you seeing anyone, Ian?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘nor do I ever intend to do so.’
Having been responsible for the failure of a marriage and then a relationship, to remain alone seems a wise decision. Solitariness isn’t so bad,
In the past four days, I think I have seen the majority of my friends. Never very plentiful, the number of those with whom I would have long conversations has steadily contracted.
To be honest, I have spent most of my life leading an individual existence, but is that such a bad thing?
History is full of people who were outgoing and sociable and who did great evil, and quiet, reserved people who didn’t do much harm.
Looking back, I didn’t make any friends during the whole time I was at university. Looking forward, I realize that when I die there will only be a habdful of people. They will say, ‘Sure, hardly anybody knew that fella.’
I don’t mimd being solitary, but sometimes it seems to make others uneasy. Sometimes, it seems that there is almost a law against solitariness.
It was easy to be solitary when I was a student in London; no-one knew who you were and no-one cared.
It was easy being solitary in theological college; I was married and it was assumed the married men stuck to their books and didn’t go out.
Once ordained, the fences were easier to keep, no-one would tread on your space.
The best compliment I ever received was when a friend in the North mentioned my name to one of my clerical colleagues, ‘Oh him,’ the colleague replied, ‘he is very hard to place’.
I was happy with being unplaceable; in fact, I had spent years trying to be unplaceable.
Why do people assume that you have to be a partygoer, or a socialite, or be clubbable to be happy?
In college days, there was a man who said he would like his headstone to bear the inscription, ‘He was a decent man’. It seemed a worthy aspiration, only surpassed as an epitaph by that of the late great Paul Eddington whose desire was that it would be said of him, ‘He did very little harm’.
Isn’t the problem with those who expect everyone to conform, rather than with quiet people who live and let live?
Solitariness tends to mean you can do no great harm. Doing very little harm is not such a bad thing.