Life’s for shar­ing

Susie won­ders if she’s maybe shared a lit­tle too much with us

EDP Norfolk - - Columnist -

“I hate small-talk, and would much rather have a con­ver­sa­tion about some­thing mean­ing­ful, even if it’s with some­one I don’t know”

WHEN I first started out at the BBC as a pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant, one of my jobs was to read the Sports news. There was a cer­tain irony to this – I come from a fam­ily of sport-ob­sessed men, but am not an afi­cionado my­self.

My par­ents lived in the neigh­bour­ing county and if my fa­ther was free he would drive to a lay-by where he could pick up the ra­dio sta­tion and lis­ten in to my broad­cast. He would then ring me to tell me – in the nicest pos­si­ble way – what pro­nun­ci­a­tions I had got wrong.

This is the kind of role my par­ents have played in my life all the way through; I have al­ways been able to rely on their sup­port and guid­ance. When I started writ­ing this col­umn more than 14 years ago, I would send them a copy to read be­fore I emailed it to the editor. My fa­ther was an English teacher and no gram­mat­i­cal er­rors would get past him.

My mother, how­ever, had other con­cerns. She was of­ten wor­ried that I was too open about my­self and gave too much away. I saw her point, but didn’t re­ally know how else to be. As time has gone on, I’ve re­alised that I am def­i­nitely an ‘over-sharer’ in life as a whole.

Enig­matic is not a word you would ever use to de­scribe me. How I am feel­ing is etched on my face, and usu­ally al­ready com­ing out of my mouth be­fore you’ve even asked “how are you?” There are a num­ber of rea­sons for this. One is that I hate small-talk, and would much rather have a con­ver­sa­tion about some­thing mean­ing­ful, even if it’s with some­one I don’t know.

An­other is that I feel com­pelled to “fill the gap”. Any pauses in con­ver­sa­tion, and I start speak­ing.

Some­times I start a sentence just to say some­thing (any­thing!) and ac­tu­ally have no idea where I am go­ing with it. I of­ten won­der what would hap­pen if I didn’t do this – would we just stand there in an un­com­fort­able si­lence, or would some­one else even­tu­ally fill the gap in­stead?

In meet­ings at work, I will tell my­self be­fore­hand not to say any­thing, un­der any cir­cum­stances. And then the boss will say those provoca­tive words “any ques­tions?” There will be a pause, where ev­ery­one looks a bit shifty, and then yours truly will sud­denly find her­self ask­ing some­thing. In­ter­nally I am shout­ing; “Re­mem­ber what we agreed, Fowler-Watt? Keep your mouth CLOSED!” But it is too late.

And just look at me now. Here I am, telling you yet an­other of my per­son­al­ity flaws. Reg­u­lar read­ers must know me pretty well af­ter all this over-shar­ing. In this col­umn I have talked about my in­fer­til­ity, age­ing, mid-life cri­sis, par­ent­ing angst, and much more.

I will not be send­ing this col­umn to my mother to read be­fore it is pub­lished; I can see her eyes rolling now!

Above: Susie Fowler Watt at her home

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