Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player


Quiet Again

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Hello… a couple of regulars have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet on here and on Twitter, and have asked if I’m all right (thanks Romantic Recluse for your very nice message on a different thread). Awkward, isn’t it, to be going through a phase of slight uncommunicativeness when the world has gone so communicatory; it notices much more and much quicker than it did in the days when one just didn’t leave a calling card for a couple of weeks, or failed to slip any letters into the postman’s saddle bag.

  But it’s also nice, to feel a community of people noticing an absence or presence, and worrying if you’re all right. A lot of people say that mobile phones / Twitter / Facebook etc encourage massive over-communication, that ten million halfwits are constantly throwing trivial or pointless statements at each other that needn’t be made. There’s a Philip Roth quote (or technically, I think, a Nathan Zuckerman quote by Philip Roth), “What do all those people have to say to each other, that they didn’t have to say twenty years ago?”

  It’s a common idea: that we wasted less time in the past, that we were classier for saying less and communicating only face to face. I think that’s rubbish. I think we always wanted to communicate with each other, it just used to be harder. People were probably lonelier. I think the multiple communities of which we can now dip in and out, the immediacy of contacting people by mobile, makes the world more comforting, more connected and warmer. The internet may be less satisfying, in terms of human contact, than a night out with a group of friends - but not everybody has a group of friends. Not everybody feels constantly social. I say the internet is better than nothing. A lot better than nothing. God knows what loneliness, depression or bereavement must be like for people who don’t play poker.

  Anyway, the fact is, RR and other concerned virtual friends, I’m not having the greatest time at the moment. Moving house is as stressful as they say, and what with one thing and another, it turned out not to be the ideal time to dump myself and all my possessions in a completely alien new environment. Even if it does have lovely wallpaper.

  Plus I’m a bit short of sleep. That never helps.

  So, you know, I may not be the most energetic and capable and lively I’ve ever been throughout recorded history. And I hate it when I go all inefficient and useless, most annoying. But hey, as Freddie advised me in the casino the other night, “Try sleeping in a cardboard box under London Bridge for a few nights, then go back to your new flat and we’ll see how ‘lonely’ you are.”

  I’m sure I’ll feel better when I’ve had more sleep and a bit of time has passed. It is quite hard to communicate in a public space when feeling a bit depressed & exhausted in spirit - I’ve always very much stuck with the system that the “I” in print is a very different person from the real one. In my writing (newspaper columns) the printed “I” usually shares most of my opinions, I don’t tend to take a controversial view for the sake of it, but it’s still someone different from me. I’m not a Liz Jones type of confessor (though I rather admire her). My poker book is a very honest thing, but that’s a memoir; it’s a level of honesty in the personal detail which would feel weird in a newspaper where people might happen across it by reluctant accident on their eager way to the crossword. A blog or a Twitter can blur the margins in a way I haven’t quite mastered yet: it’s a public place, there are strangers looking, but sometimes some of them can feel like friends as well. I wrote a really gloomy blog a year or so ago about a row I’d had with a friend and a few other friends told me I probably shouldn’t be sharing that kind of thing and they were probably right. In general, I think it’s not a place for too much sharing. So I’ve been a bit quiet. But I was touched by messages asking if I was okay and I didn’t want to be silent, it seemed ungrateful.

  I am all right. And whenever I think I’m not, I know I will be. No more gloomy blogs after this, it will be only chipper reports from poker tournaments or the set of Only Connect and nobody will ever know what sort of mood I’m in… which I think is surely the most appropriate thing, but I shall put this blog up in response to the nice questions and it was very kind of you to ask.

  VC

EDIT: PS. Have just had an email from my friend Tony Bloom. Forget whatever problems I think I have and please read the new blog post above this one. It knocks all my stupid self-pity into perspective, makes me realize I am basically fine and reminds me to thank God for the problems I don’t have. Please read, and send the link to anyone you know who lives, works or socializes near this area.

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Comments

fourstar at 1:35 am on November 25th, 2009

“...nobody will ever know what sort of mood I’m in…”

Well that’s very much up to you, but I can confirm that we do care :)


adam bridge at 2:31 am on November 25th, 2009

sorry you are feeling down
here is a poem i heard to cheer you

rain falls on the just and the unjust fella
but mainly on the just
because the unjust steals the just’s umbrella


RomanticRecluse at 3:14 am on November 25th, 2009

Vicky, thank you for taking my note through your virtual letterbox in the way I meant it.  It’s good to hear from you again and to know that your spirit isn’t broken, not that I thought it would be.

I hope you settle into your new environment soon.  I can’t give you any tips on getting more sleep (he types at about 2am) but perhaps someone else will offer some.

I think you’ll be all right soon.  However, if you ever feel down again you don’t have to hide your feelings.  It’s okay to show it when you feel down, it’s okay to say you need something and it’s okay to cry.  Indeed, sometimes these things may help other people because it makes them realise that other people feel the same way as them and starts a conversation which leads to the solution of a problem.

Thanks again.


Alan Glaum at 9:40 am on November 25th, 2009

Vicky,
Some thoughts:
1) I should throw things away to get more space rather than move
2) I need some Facebook friends not from the office, so I can be different there
3) and we all show different parts of ourselves in different areas but I’m not sure the internet is a good alternative to going out and meeting real people.
4) and I’m sure you will feel better after some sleep and a few good hands


Sam at 12:02 pm on November 25th, 2009

Feeling down and depressed can definitely launch you into a spiral of self hatred when you reflect on the fact that you don’t have too many reasons to feel down and that there are numerous people in a much worse state than you are.

Of course, it’s ludicrous to think that you should not feel down just because your life could be worse. Logic and rationale has never really been able to control emotions (do we want it to?). Don’t feel bad for feeling a bit low and never think it’s inappropriate to post on your blog or twitter that life is getting to you. It does everyone and I think most people would rather hear about it than some generic “life is brilliant” kind of post.


Addster at 1:01 pm on November 25th, 2009

It’s OK to get gloomy occasionally. No need to apologise for being human. Especially not to the likes of us :-) Hope the new flat is a “grower” that turns out to be great. (Hope that bloke turns up safe’n'sound as well.)


LC at 3:01 pm on November 25th, 2009

It’s always good to share things.

When i’m having problems, I find it hard to open up to my real-life friends, often because I feel like I don’t want to bore them or feel that they wouldn’t understand. A lot of the time, the internet has provided a way of venting. People that i’ve met on messageboards or social networking can help due to their wider array of knowledge and experience, compared to that of my teenage friends.

I too have been having a hard time at the moment, finding it hard to care about university work with my mother having problems with depression again. But I found that pretending I was fine drove me absolutely mental.

Therefore Vicky, vent as much as you please. It bloody helps!


Phil at 5:38 pm on November 25th, 2009

Its brave to come online and be so open and honest. Even those who don’t live some of their lives in the public eye have an online “self”, a presence that might not be 100% the same as who they are in real life, so I think many people will understand where you are coming from in that respect.
Its sad to think that you are hurting , but you seem to at least have everything in clear perspective…and hopefully the goodwill you have from everyone here, myself included, will help to speed the process a little.

Take care of yourself

Phil


Dan at 7:30 pm on November 25th, 2009

Nice post.  I like your reflections on new media.  And it’s a privilege to be able to communicate with our favourite celebs in this way and good to see that people mostly don’t abuse it.  We knew you were ok really and thanks for being so considerate.  Of course you inspire such a faithful following for lots of good reasons. 

I’m going to retweet relating to that post - remembered I have friends in London.


MarkP at 8:46 pm on November 25th, 2009

When I feel down I always go to a passage from Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island
‘Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you were not. Soon you will cease to be once more. That you are able to sit here right now in this once never to be repeated moment, reading this book, eating bon-bons, dreaming about hot sex with that scrumptious person from accounts, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing – just existing – is really wondrous beyond belief.
Third, you also have plenty to eat, live in a time of peace and ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ will never be number one again.
If you bear these things in mind, you will never be truly unhappy.’


C Scott at 10:40 pm on November 25th, 2009

big inappropriate cyber-hug. Wishing you well.


AndytheDealer at 10:52 pm on November 25th, 2009

What you need is a good cup of tea and I’d be only too happy to make it for you!


Tom at 11:18 pm on November 25th, 2009

Eyup Victoria, sorry to hear you’ve got the glumz.  Maybe it’s time to go full celeb online recluse?  Cosy up with your new internet buddies… they actually let real normal people on here these days.  See you at the 2am Brandy and Twitter Club…

What I like about this online social business is that it lets you be an introvert and a bit unsociable sometimes, but whenever you have a moment of self-doubt you can just check pop online to check that you’re still wanted.  And it turns out you are!  Result.

I reckon sod the guilt on the people-have-it-worse thing, we all live in our own bubble and that’s that, nothing you can do about it.  2am Brandy and Twitter!


David at 9:05 pm on November 26th, 2009

I’m sure everybody gets down sometimes, but it always seems a little bit more surprising when it’s someone as beautiful and smart as you. Absurd to think that way I know.
You take care of yourself, and vent your true feelings as much as you wish. Your books, thoughts and TV appearances have given all of us a lot of pleasure, so I’m sure we can handle a bit of your downtime.


Andrew at 12:46 am on November 27th, 2009

Being smart is no cure for the blues - in fact often quite the opposite.  Sometimes it’s possible to just think about things too much.  Stress and sleeplessness both fuel that spiral - but you’ll come out of it OK given time.

Just remember that there are two communities on here and twitter etc.  There are your real friends and then the folks like me out here in cyber-land.  But what unites us all is the fact that in a world that’s often sh*te and sometimes terribly cruel, you have to cherish those people and things that are positive and bring interest and enjoyment.  For all of us one of those people is you - so look after yourself and soon you’ll be wondering why you were ever so down.  (Answer - Because everyone with a brain sometimes does!)


danny maris at 4:58 am on November 29th, 2009

If it’s any help - God I hate moving!

The unhappiest times in my life, they’ve always been to do with moving. God it’s awful! People weren’t born to move.  I guess genetically it didn’t matter when we were kinda bonobo chimps or similar. We just moved from one tree to another but we all stayed together. But no - today it’s a horrible experience. Moving - yuck!!

The only good thing. You’ll feel a lot better about it within two weeks.  Trust me. Unless you’ve got Australian AC/DC fan neighbours in which case, God help you.


mark hamilton at 12:22 pm on December 6th, 2009

hi Victoria
sorry to trouble you this is a question i would like to ask you. i was wondering if you ever played with my late mother Lisa Kenyon. Hamilton, Norton. lol she had a few names. she played at the victoria sporting club and in brighton mainly??

regards
mark hamilton


Victoria Coren at 6:55 pm on December 6th, 2009

Hi Mark. I have played poker at the Vic with a lady called Lisa - don’t know her surname - I would guess in her fifties, very glamorous with red hair and an American accent. But I don’t think that can be her, I didn’t hear that she died and I’d be very shocked if she had? And actually no.. I think her name is Lisa Hawkes, not on your list.


Victoria Coren

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