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Cancelling out the trolls

Cat James

There are many indicators of the passage of time among us humans. Men may grow more luxuriant hair on their backs and out of various orifices than on their heads. A woman’s narrow waist and broad mind might swap places, as the years slowly inflate a slender figure into Michelle Michelin while, at the same time, her opinions on others’ perceived failings are ill-advisedly broadcast.

But no matter what the ravages of time and gravity do to our external structure, our mind can be the first thing that truly shows the signs of ageing. We all know about memory loss, otherwise how can our MP have so conveniently forgotten about the ‘Island Deal’ so many optimists voted for in the recent general election?

But what about that other potential sign of age – loss of hope? The switch that flicks a youthful joyful heart into one blackened with toxicity. The stony bitter heart inside someone who considers it acceptable to leave snide comments on even the most innocuous County Press story. Who could be so broken and twisted that they are happy to post their meanest thoughts on a public forum? Indeed, through my writing for this paper, commenters have made personal and disparaging remarks directed specifically at me.

But BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Each miserable whining troll is cancelled out by the joyous people I meet. This week alone three sprightly fellas each proved that, however old their bodies, their minds and souls were full of vitality.

I was chatting with a gubber on Thursday; his family hails from West Wight and he can trace his Island ancestors back hundreds of years. He works with his hands and you might think he was a bit rustic. But no!

“So anyway,” he concluded, “The wife starts rummaging in her handbag to answer her phone. I sez to her, “What ya doing, girl? Why are you answering the call on your phone – answer it on your watch!””

I laughed out loud! My friend, who’s as Isle of Woight as they come, calling out his partner for not using her tiny wearable communication device. Who turned Chale into Star Trek?

Earlier that day I’d chatted with a relative; at eighty-four, he’s feeling a bit mortal. “Don’t worry,” I reassured, “The Japanese are developing care robots – I’ll get you one when the time comes.” “Ooh!” he said, perking up, “Do they do female ones?” Attaboy!

Also this week I went to a funeral. As I listened captivated by eulogies of friends who’d clearly loved the deceased, I discovered a man with fire in his belly; politically driven, passionate, creative and nurturing. Although in his eighties he was about to move house and was planning his wedding. The spark he’d had was tangible.

I thought about people I know half his age who seem completely defeated – and wish that they could experience just a bit of any of these three men’s vigour.

It is love not hate that, in the end, makes my world go round.

This article first appeared in print in the Isle of Wight County Press on 21 February 2020, and also online.

Cat James

Graphic designer, creative director of Pinkeye Graphics, Isle of Wight County Press columnist, Cat out of Matt and Cat

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