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The joys of opting out

Jane Shillingford craves the joys of solitude

It’s a common thing for those with families and wide-ranging, active, social lives to regard those who choose to enjoy their own company as odd, whacky or weirdo. Whenever the name of some single woman in her thirties or forties comes up and the conversation soon goes down the line broadly characterised as “And what’s wrong with her?”, as if being in a relationship – if not a marriage or civil partnership – is a natural state and those who are not so ‘partnered’ are inferior or to be pitied.

Out on the water a couple of days ago, I listened as two fellow guests discussed various matters to do with local village society with relish. There was barely a subject that did not come up – marriage break-ups, affairs, whose business had folded, the impossibility of getting planning permission in this very conservative area … you name it.

At one point, the lady said she’d heard that two recent arrivals were already regretting purchasing their houses – they had reckoned without taking into account the degree of hotbed gossip and petty politics in this area.

Though I kept it to myself, my immediate reaction was horror. The thought of not being able to walk a street without meeting someone you know; having to chat with them; everyone locally going to each other’s parties; your brothers, sisters, daughter and sons all going out with each other (and then perhaps not) filled me with dread and not a little revulsion.

Give me some far off place where nobody knows me … and I don’t bother them, nor they me … any day!

I guess this is what Barbara Ellen is getting at today in her article on the website of THE GUARDIAN





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About Jane Shillingford

Jane spent the bulk of her career working on women’s magazines. Now retired and living on the south coast, she has no regrets and 'would do it all again'. More Posts