…last weekend I took an exam, an oral in which I was given eight cases to talk my way through. [When I was at school I thought it was an aural, because you had to listen to the questions people asked you first before you speak.] Since getting back a number of people have said ‘How do you think you did?’ Every time, I reply:

‘I have absolutely no idea.’

And people think I am joking, or being self-effacing, when what I am saying is the absolute truth – I don’t have a clue. Adrift in body language at the best of times, I can’t interpret that of an examiner when I’m frantically trying to figure out what my next sentence will be.

Not for me those subtle clues to warn me I am barking up the wrong tree, or relax, you’ve said enough, you’ve passed.

I would be no more surprised to learn I’ve come bottom than that I got through. It has taken me years to realise that people ask for your opinion on how an oral went because for most of them, there is a reasonable chance they would know, in your place.

I’m back to the robots again.

But apart from that, I’ve spent the last few weeks at work being cheerful, probably offensively so. I can’t really explain why; I’m certainly not kidding myself that I’m stuffing up the interpersonal stuff any less than usual. Some of it is mirroring, which I suspect is when I get somewhat out of control, reflecting an endless type of emotion back at people. I also suspect I’m annoying them, if only because I’ve made this mistake in the past.

I want to be cheerful and outgoing. I’d prefer people thought of me as someone who was awkward and irritating but also fun to have around, rather than just a pain. I also feel happy when I’ve helped someone, and recently there have been a number of occasions when I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and listen and really try to connect with a patient. I’m getting better at this as I get older (though it worries me how bad at it I must once have been), and I like knowing that I’ve helped someone feel listened to, even if there is little I can offer on the practical front.

(I do sometimes wonder if the warm fuzzies of a sympathetic hearing carry someone all the way home until they close the front door, stop and realise Hey! She didn’t actually do anything! What a bitch!)

Anyway, here’s a kitten: