Obviously when I say I don't smile that's not quite true; I have in my time responded to jokes and friendliness. What I mean is I rarely initiate smiles. I distrust the gesture, don't do it well. Here my two brothers Sir Hugh (left) and Nick (right) beam away at the Frenchman we persuaded to take the photo. At best I am smirking.
Which is a shame. This was a happy occasion and grows in retrospective importance given Nick's illness. My failure is even sadder since at the time I was being introduced to sailing which I enjoyed enormously. Despite that I was unable to contort my face appropriately.
For other reasons I've had to reflect on my social inadequacies recently. I conclude I'm not an inter-personal person. Being inarguably a smart-Aleck, I've found a way round this. Social intercourse depends initially on certain familiar approaches which qualify as conversational clichés. I've spent a professional lifetime avoiding clichés. But of course this is sophistry.
The answer is to avoid social encounters which - with a few exceptions, mainly mano a mano - I do. Instead I write, these days more than ever before. I'm lucky in that blogging includes written exchanges with interesting people round the globe so I'm not exactly an anchorite. Americans find my situation unbelievable so there's written mileage to be gained there. Perhaps I need my own French valediction: au revoir becomes au récrire.