Last year, I was at the Easter Sunday service at Norwich Cathedral with a new acquaintance. In the distance, I noticed a lady in the congregation whose face was very familiar. “I think I went to College with her,” I told my acquaintance.
She didn’t miss a beat. “Oh, that’s V. – you know, she had cancer last year.”
And I knew that very second that I would never be friends with my acquaintance. Why? Because I do not want to be friends with someone who can find nothing to say about a stranger except that she’d had cancer. She could have said that V. was a splendid cook, an outstanding gardener, an avid reader, or even simply that she was a lovely person. At a push, “Oh, that’s V. – you know, she had cancer last year and recovered by using such-or-such treatment/philosophy/herbs/breakthrough surgery etc.” Instead, she chose to describe a…
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