Well, this isn’t festive, is it? This isn’t God Bless Us Everyone at all. This is an acknowledgment of the fact that the milk of our human kindness tends, these days, to be focussed. Our goodwill is directed towards the people we love (where possible) and all the suffering we worry about and text five quid to all the time and who we wish we could help more even though we don’t do enough. We never do enough.
But, at this time of year when the sheer volume of people running through our lives increases ten-fold we are surer and surer of one thing: our instinct. And so when we meet people and feel that elastic connection, we bask. We hope. We give the acquaintance a little room to grow.
However, just as often, we meet someone and immediately think, “Oh, piss off.” We are not proud of this. It is neither grown-up nor generous nor wise. But we do it. “Oh, piss off.”
Is this hate at first sight? Maybe – but hate takes energy so it might be more accurate to call it dismissal at first sight. We can smell promise but we can also sense a waste of time. And who has time? Time is running through our fingers.
And so we become quietly ruthless. Gently off-hand. Lightly censorious. ‘You,’ we think, ‘are not for me.’ Sometimes there is a real allergic reaction (“Oh, piss off.”) but if we are being mature then we could just say, “You have entered a vacuum. There is no attention for you here. It would be best if you moved on.” Hate at first sight? Or nothing at first sight. Depends how much turbo you got to spare…