I glance through the windows on my way to the post office, and it all comes back to me, that terrible creeping misery as it dawns on you that for the next hour - at the very minimum - you are going to be trapped at a table with nothing to do but play with your cutlery or the salt cellar, (some bright spark has even deprived you of the distraction of reading the menu, by bulk-ordering the set Christmas special 3-course meal), surrounded by people who appear to have determined quite early on in life that small talk is the realm of the devil and proper, intense talk about the meaning of life is even more outrageously wicked, while wit is the eighth deadly sin
Which is where they are so wrong - the eighth deadly sin is being unable to tolerate boredom, and on this count I am an irredeemable failure. I always promise myself that my eyes won't glaze over when the minutiae of the childhood and family background of my interlocutor's plumber or removal man are relayed to me, in slow, painful detail, or when the full, blow-by-blow description of the course of a family pet's gum disease is recounted, complete with the unedited edition of the remarks made at the time by the vet in charge of its treatment. I resolve over and again to keep my head still, instead of tossing it about like a demented racehorse, eyes darting round in search of an exit from its stall, as the complexities of someone's second cousin's father's mobile telephone contract are explained or the advantages of shopping at Aldi are outlined, (with lengthy mention of the spectacular value represented by the catalogue specials, available on a weekly basis, apparently).
Boredom. Terrible, suffocating, maddening, unbearable boredom. How you react to boredom is the true test of whether you are a good person.
I am not a good person.
What if it is not the person subjected to boredom who is at fault but the people who are doing the boring? Are they actually the truly wicked souls among us, and not intolerant swine like me and my ilk?
If the answer is yes, then perhaps I even have the right to take a leaf out of the bible and abandon all restraint and smite them? Oh please, tell me that it is my righteous duty. Oh please, oh please, do, please, let it be so.