Have you ever noticed that only one type of person seems to meet an untimely death?
In news stories, people who’ve died were always “happy, bubbly, extremely popular, she would do anything for anyone...”
Who are these incredible people? And why do they keep kicking the bucket?
Did they never hover on the edge of a social event feeling like a complete stooge? Or lean on the horn and raise a middle finger in an unjustified moment of commuter rage?
I understand the urge to romanticise a lost loved one, or put the best version of them out there for the public record. But maybe something scarier is happening and people are honing their natures to conform to a homogenised type? We live in an age when you can call up anyone’s social media pages and put a number on their popularity. Perhaps we’ve created a generation too scared to be anything but “bubbly”.
Families, too, are often described in standard issue terms. Read an interview with someone famous or high achieving and they will divulge that their family was deliriously happy and that “Mum and Dad always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be...”
Really? They said that? My parents told me to clean up my room. They never said I could be whatever I wanted to be. I mean, that was plainly not the case.
As the daughter of writer CK Stead, novelist Charlotte Grimshaw grew up in a family that lived and breathed fiction. In an essay on page 14 she writes that for years she told interviewers what they expected to hear: “Wonderful childhood, a house full of books...” But today she writes of a family that was better at fiction than messy reality. A house from which she emerged “chaotic”. I’ve interviewed CK Stead. His house is indeed full of books and he is one of the most engaging people you’ll ever meet. You can’t fake that. But no one is just those good things. No family is simply “happy”.
And no sane person would do anything for anybody.