Oftentimes we don’t want to talk to people, right? Just a bit of space. A moment/hour/day of lockdown. Peace to do or think one thing at a time. A break from stimulation for a blessed moment before our goldfish brains get bored and open Instagram.
But things? Increasingly, things are on the receiving end of much of our speech and, largely, this one-sided conversation (nice, that. No one can say the wrong thing) has a motivational flavour. It strikes in our late 30s and, it must be said, has a school marmish character. A bit of a Joyce Grenfell shrillness and insistence. “Come on guys,” I urged my Nurofen this morning because those tiny white pals had yet to dent my headache. “You can do it.” Seems a bit matronly-retro but technology is actively encouraging us to talk to inanimate objects these days – isn’t it Alexa? Alexa?
“Whatcha got?” says one Midult every day as she flings open her wardrobe doors, hoping against hope that something flattering and un-knackered presents itself. “Oh, please not tonight,” is the sound of me begging Sky to work when it gets a bit sluggish and my heart floods with terror that it might be broken and a TV-less night on the phone to a call centre is about to kick off. “Come on you C***!” is often reserved for the kettle, the toaster and the car in front of me at the lights. “Fucking male drivers.”
It’s kind of reassuring. Only a certain aspect of our characters leaks out this way. It’s not the shivering rat of anxiety or the aspirational snake of envy. It’s just the very top layer of immediate need for some small acceleration. And sometimes the doing is in the saying. Sometimes, madly, it seems to work.