Recently my friend Mairi Mac Arthur and I have been making plans for her to come and visit Bath for a day (to see me) and we’ve been discussing dates and so on and so forth. Anyway, I had to let her know that on a specific day I would be unavailable due to the fact that I had a hospital appointment and she told me that that was fine, because that was the date of her university’s graduation ball anyway.
    “Oh good, well while I’m having jelly and things put on me, I shall take comfort in the fact that you are having an exciting graduation ball,” I wrote in reply.
    A little while later, it occurred to me that that message might sound like it was bitter and sarcastic, so I quickly sent another message explaining that I was being earnest. In the past I have, sadly, had people think I was being sarcastic when I wasn’t, so the elaboration seemed necessary.
    “Though it may initially appear sarcastic, I know you well enough to know you’re not like that,” she wrote in reply. Aw, how nice. I generally tend to avoid using sarcasm altogether, and so I was very pleased that she had recognised that. It had been a little while since anybody had thought I was being sarcastic when I wasn’t anyway, so perhaps, I thought, it was just a thing of the past.
    A few days later, I was at a big social event at Bath Spa University. It was a sort of ‘goodbye celebration’ for all the third year students who would be leaving soon. I’d like to say that it was a very pleasant evening, an unlimited free supply of tortilla chips (with dip) for the guests was a wonderful idea. The unlimited free wine may have been a bit short sighted.
    Anyway, at one point during the event, I was in a group conversation with several people I didn’t really know very well and one of them was talking about his fondness for a particular manga series.
    “The annoying thing was,” he said, “that just after I bought the whole set, they were reprinted in colour!”
    “Oh dear, what a terrible shame that must have been for you,” I said.
    I noticed that somebody had started laughing, almost hysterically. But I wasn’t quite sure why, perhaps they’d heard something that I missed?
    A short while later somebody said something funny and it was proclaimed by another person to be ‘the funniest thing of the night’.
    “No, I think it was when Adam said ‘what a terrible shame it must have been for you’ about that manga!” she started laughing again.
    “Oh, well I wasn’t trying to be funny,” I said, a little meekly. “That was earnest.”
    “Nah, it wasn’t,” she insisted. “Very deadpan, great sarcasm!”
    I certainly hope that the person who had the manga-based misfortune didn’t believe that! But I suppose I have to remember that not everyone is like Mairi, so maybe I should mentally listen to what I say before I speaking out loud. Either that, or just tell people I’m not being sarcastic.
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