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A Right Card

Well birthdays come and go. This one went very nicely and quietly with only a little bit of unplanned adventure as we got lost on Northchurch Common in Ashridge forest in the rain. But it is a beautiful place and even in the cold and the wet the thrill of pretty much guaranteed dear sightings – compliment with a gorgeous Goldcrest, one of smallest and loveliest birds more than compensates.
As an aside, I am somewhat amused at the unusual quarters that birthday greetings come from these days. Apart from the now traditional swathe of Facebook posts my inbox was full of cheerful missives of Happy Returns reminding me just how many mailing lists I have managed to be on. It was be nice of course if I actually believed that The Who, Snow Patrol and/or Pixie Lott had actually taken the time to send me an email rather than just generated it via an automated system, and I guess if I strongly suspect that 1D fans (considering their likely demographic) are particularly thrilled anyway to get one even if they do understand that the blessed ones themselves had not pressed send (to be clear, Harry Styles did not appear in my in box in any form, I am just making a prediction here).
It is harmless enough, and I think clearly meant to make you feel closer to your artist of choice, but I do get enough junk mail as it is (those mailing lists again). The only interaction I have ever had with a recording artist was a recent Twitter conversation with Josienne Clarke about her and Ben Walker’s new album expressing my hope that since she had self-appointed herself as the ‘harbinger of doom’ the new album would have to be as depressing as the last one – well, after all this is Folk we are talking about. She assured me that it was, and indeed it’s a lovely piece of melancholy (‘Nothing can bring back the hour’ is the album, in case you are feeling too cheerful. Kind of sets the stall out from the title, don’t it? Just do not buy as ‘getting ready to go out’ music as it is more likely to make you want to crawl back into bed. And hide under the duvet).
The automate emails though did make me wonder about how easily we seem to be pleased these days and how little effort we make. It occurred to me that I have only given one friend an actual, physical, card this year – and that was because I could hand it to him. We’ve received more thank you notes from God children and the like for Christmas just gone (well behaved lot that they are – or at least well behaved parents) than I received birthday cards. I guess there is a good environment story in there, but it is not the same for me emotionally. After the age of 21, you’re lucky to get a text. Still, what things mean a lot to some people mean nothing to others. I recall with some pain one Christmas when my father took me aside to tell me that my mother had been upset because the card I had sent them had obviously come out of a pack. I was mortified, and I never made the mistake again. It was not that my mum wanted a particularly large or fancy card; she wanted a card that she knew I had deliberately picked for her, that I had engaged personally with the greeting. It mattered to her. It matters to my dad as well, so although my mother is no longer with us, it is still important to find the right card.
I do not have shares in Clinton (other card shops are available). But I do think that we should think a little more about what impact we have with each other in all of our interactions and if they are important tailor them appropriately.
I hereby apologise for all the times I have and will continue probably to get it wrong!

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