[mini cakes from Treacle, Sunday morning inspiration for Phoebe]
You must have thought I'd gone out for a Captain Oates' style walk ('I may be some time') but in fact I came back an hour later, ready to delete the post, and found that it had already sparked yet another huge discussion of negative comments which is absolutely not what I'd intended, and it would have looked very odd if I had wiped it all off the blog.
No, it wasn't all about negative comments. I had a crappy time once, and I could tell you some horror stories about some of the awful things that happened, but it was a while ago and I have moved on. And moved on enough to see that the dissociation that is happening between on-line and real life is having a very interesting effect not just on me but on a much wider circle of people. In fact, Simon's business books are predicting what I am seeing, namely that we will return to more face-to-face, physical and community activities in which we meet and talk to real human beings, and don't write down and publicise what we think of each other's looks/clothes/jokes/opinions/children's behaviour/taste in wine as we go along. Goodness me, we even have one teenager in this house who doesn't use Facebook (hasn't updated his profile in 16 months) and who actually spends time chatting to his friends on the phone, just we did in the 1970s. How quaint. How reassuring that he prefers to hear the nuances and tones of his friends' voices and words, rather than struggling to convey meaning on-line and running the risk of giving offence or being misunderstood. This is what I was writing about.
This year Tom and Alice will be going to university. One of them is still going through the unpleasant experience of a very protracted application procedure; even after more than five months there has been no response from two of the five universities, not even a rejection, and we simply don't understand how it can take so long to make offers and why they do this sort of thing to students who have enough anxiety this year anyway. The other is all sorted which is lovely, but doesn't always help matters. I think the prospect of them leaving is making me think quite deeply about what comes next, and in the shorter term has made me want to enjoy every moment I can when they are around and not working in Boots/revising/playing rugby/Facebooking/wearing high heels (only Alice)/lying on a bed talking on the phone. I certainly don't want to end up as an aged Bridget Jones figure with only my computer for company, so we are planning a new phase with just one child at home during term-time and a lot more going out. In fact, we think we shall eventually retire to central London: forget the seaside retirement home, we are going where the bright lights, baked goods and bookshops are.
I read every comment you left, for which many thanks. There's a lot of collective time in those comments and I appreciate the fact that so many of you wanted to say something. Of course, what you said was fascinating: I should walk away/I should carry on, I have zest and energy/I am arrogant and flippant, change the blog/don't change, turn the comments off/be grateful for all the comments, do as you like/show us your home, your family life, your children and your book projects, bring back yourself/move on.
For once, I am lost for words here.