Mary said on our return from the Dominican Republic that she didn’t much like my phone greeting, in which I say, “I’m either kicking the can down the road, pushing up daisies, or angling for a promotion,” especially the pushing-up-daisies part. And so, I’ve just changed it to “I’m either racing with the moon, running on empty, or jogging my memory . . . please leave a message.”
This last, the jogging-my-memory bit, is, I’m afraid, all too true. I was kicking myself last night for having misremembered a photo subject’s name, as I had done the week before as well. If local journalism is indeed, as the late Jeannette Edwards Rattray said, “Names, names, names,” then it behooves me, I tell myself, to get them right. Sometimes, therefore, I wish — going against type — that there were no more print, only the Web, for then if you realized you’d erred you could splice out the offending gene, as it were, and all would be well conscience-wise. It’s hard to be a perfectionist in this business.
“O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven. . . . What form of prayer can serve my turn. . . ?”
“. . . Security [too much self-confidence] is mortals’ chiefest enemy.”
One can only resolve to do better next time . . . and that is the wonderful thing about journalism: There always is a next time! Though the next time can be a mixed blessing — a time to be shriven should all go well, a time for self-flagellation — for kicking my can down the road, as it were — should it not.
Having misquoted so many people so eloquently over the years, and having misspelled so many names in that long span without my self-esteem having wilted overmuch, I’ve decided it’s still far preferable that daisies be pulled than pushed.
And that is why, despite my plaint of last week, I’ve embarked, albeit diffidently, on some exercises Sinead FitzGibbon has prescribed so that I can resume with a light heart my battle against gravity.