As you might imagine, it was not my bright idea to go to see The Troll Hunter. It had to do with my husband being an enthusiast for things Nordic. I was just being a good sport and earning a few Brownie points. Less than half an hour in, though, I was utterly bored – an experience I hadn't had for a very long time. It crossed my mind to leave and sit it out in the bar, but solidarity prevailed.
Since that doomed expedition, though, I've found myself fighting boredom a few more times. Maybe it's addictive. One occasion was a dire discussion about the future of the euro. It wasn't the topic; that's more entertaining than it's been for a while. The difficulty was that one speaker was barely comprehensible; another – who might have provoked an argument – didn't turn up, and, crucially, there seemed to be no agreement on the terms. As the disjointed conversation wandered off, so did my attention.
Then, earlier this week, I was in the audience for a discussion on the BBC. With the exception of one sparky panellist, who seemed to have been invited from a different planet and proposed moving the Corporation lock, stock and barrel to Salford Quays, there were the usual paeans to an institution so admirable as to need no more than tidying up around the edges. Had I not been wedged between ex-BBC worthies in a narrow row, I would have left far sooner than I did.
It turns out, though, that boredom is having a bit of a revival these days. The second annual Boring conference was held in London last weekend – and, unlike Troll Hunter, it was sold out. But it's not a sentiment I want to be reconciled with. There's so much else to do with your time. Last year, I made a resolution to boycott any event linked to climate change. Why? Because the outlines of the argument are clear; because most new information comes with an agenda, and because connecting a subject to climate change, however peripherally, is (or was), a sure-fire way to attract funding. My new resolution will be to walk out of anything that hits the boredom button – and do so without embarrassment.
Incidentally, my reward for sitting through The Troll Hunter was to have an equally bored husband sit beside me, quite unconvinced of any Need to Talk about Kevin.
Stop asking, and you will receive...
Parents have long known the perils of pester power: give in, and you let yourself in for more. It's becoming that way with charities: one donation, and you risk being phoned or mailed till kingdom come. Last week's post, though, produced a mail-shot with a difference. Smile Train, which provides operations for poor children with cleft palate, has launched what it calls a One Gift campaign. Send us one donation, it says, and we promise never to ask you again.
It's not quite that simple. You have to tick a box – which could make you feel mean – and even if you do, "please note, it takes six to eight weeks for your name and address to be permanently suppressed... "It's a sad comment on fund-raising methods, though, if even one charity believes it will raise more money by offering to leave people alone than it will by soliciting donations. The awful thought is that it might work.