So much of this -as in everything else -is down to upbringing. My mother, bless her, hasn’t stopped talking since she started talking (so said my late grandfather). My father, on the other hand, speaks only if he has something substantive to say, and does so “after the use of the English, in straight-flung words and few” (Kipling). They manage to communicate, nonetheless, though Dad leaves the social chat to Mum. Apparently, her conversation allows people to relax and chat back, whereas Dad freely admits that he can sound more like the Spanish Inquisition, making people clam up.

I tend to follow my father, but more in the Spartan style, in that my contributions to conversations tend to be few, brief, to the point and where possible, witty. I also have no patience with ‘fluff’ or ‘grooming’ conversations. Unless you have something substantive to talk about; something I need to know, something I can help you with, etc, then please don’t buttonhole me! I’m not interested in soap operas or the latest antics of your cat/dog/child/eccentric aunt. I’m glad you enjoyed your holiday, but don’t need a blow-by-blow account, thanks.

The technical term for this sort of person is ‘grouch’. I’m a grouch, happy to be a grouch, and don’t need people to ‘cheer me up’ or ‘bring me out of myself’.

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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