POLITENESS I'm really bad at this.
Early on VR said, "When people say 'How are you?' don't tell them." Return the question in a meaningless exchange. Why not just clear our throats?
Told someone's mother-in-law's sister has died the answer should be: "Oh dear." emphasising and lengthening the second word. Would this response differ if informed King Canute had died?
"Put yourself in the position of the person telling you," I was instructed. My mind didn't seem agile enough. Was the teller really undermined by tragedy? I would ponder. And the moment would be lost.
The hackneyed language of politeness worried me. Hello./Hello. It's a fine day./It is indeed. Being polite meant never surprising anyone.
Foolishly I decided only to say interesting things:
"I've got double cataract."
"Oh my God."
"But they're not ripe yet."
People crossed the road a hundred yards away.
Pulchritude was difficult. Introduced to a stunner over drinks (this happened less with time) I would gulp wine then say "Do you go for Ozu?" The clever ones, imagining I'd uttered a haiku - perhaps half a haiku - responded with an impromptu one of their own. I would ask for my coat.
I’m not sure there’s a cure.
Smoothness isn’t the only criterion:
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
“This night! What sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
Reasons why: You’re tempted to arrange words more logically in lines 3 and 4. But jaggedness creates separate mini-messages, opening up dramatic pauses. Heart almost rates its own exclamation mark. Does fell have that meaning? Who cares? It’s full of menace.