Rhodri Marsden: Why the long goodbye should really be a good deal shorter

Life on Marsden

Share
Related Topics

Australians in particular will be aware that when you leave Australia you have to say cheerio to people you won't see for quite a while. Humans, of course, tend to extend the length of such goodbyes in proportion to the length of time they'll be apart. We waste hours waiting with people for taxis, hanging around with them at bus stops, carrying their luggage onto trains and sitting with them for slightly too long in a nerve-wracking game of "train-departure chicken", or waving and crying while they stand 5m away in a long, snaking, almost stationary queue for passport control.

This achieves nothing except unhappiness, of course, so I've been trying to perfect the art of the efficient goodbye. This combines the speed of the farewell I'd normally give to a gas-meter reader with the reassuring warmth of a district nurse. Forget all that wistful standing about. I know it buys you a few extra seconds with someone, but those seconds mainly consist of people saying, "You will miss me, won't you", or "Text me when you arrive, won't you", or "You did go to the toilet, didn't you", or "You will vanquish the enemy mercilessly, won't you", to which the answer is always yes. It's redundant chat. Upsetting chat.

To execute an efficient goodbye, simply express your delight at having seen the other person or persons, ask them which direction they're heading in, then immediately head off in the opposite direction, even if that means walking purposefully into the sea or sauntering off the edge of a cliff. It's easy to prevent parting from being such sweet sorrow; just don't say "parting is such sweet sorrow". Instead, say "parting is a pain in the arse, but what can you do?" then shrug, smile and jump on an escalator.

I'm writing this on a flight from Sydney. Earlier, two efficient goodbyes were executed perfectly, resulting in minimal suffering for all concerned. Textbook! Which isn't to say that there wasn't some blubbing afterwards in the airport lounge café, but suddenly a lamentably hideous cover version of "The Sound Of Silence" started playing over the PA, and it was so shocking that it stopped us in our tracks. It would have snapped a widower out of bereavement. "Christ, that's bad," laughed my girlfriend. "You see, we're feeling better already," I said.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A sculpture illustrating the WW1 Christmas Truce football match in Liverpool  

It's been 100 years since the Christmas Truce, but football is still changing the world

Jim Murphy and Dan Jarvis
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there