One of the most difficult aspects of living in the UK is the bizarre mix of box-ticking politeness with genuine emotional reserve.
In other words, while almost everyone will ask, ‘how are you?’, the only acceptable answer is ‘fine thank you, how are you?’
Perhaps we should just invert the meaning of ‘fine’?
On a black dog day, this presents a problem. Either you break social convention and cause widespread panic:
‘Oh, the usual mix of abject misery and thoughts of self-harm, how about you?‘
Or, you lie.
In the short term, lying seems like the obvious option. For one thing, it creates less paperwork. I once made the mistake of being brutally honest with a colleague about my desires to end my life. Within a few hours I was being invited (that’s the British for ‘ordered’) to have a chat with both human resources and occupational health…
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