Hell Is Nice People

An example of the Comicbore hybrid. How do you deal with people like this without resorting to drugs or physical violence?

It started innocently enough. I picked up a book called Be Nice Or Else! And What's In It For You. It was written by an insanely cheerful hairdresser called Winn and was fairly inspirational but it got a bit much by the end. You were meant to write 'love letters' to your friends to tell them just how much they meant to you. I did kind of wonder what authority a hairdresser had to write this kind of upbeat jaunty self-help tome but what the heck. I did lose focus after a while though because the book was a little bit too rich for my blood, and I was beginning to feel like I was being force fed cotton candy. The gist of it was that you need to train your 'nice muscle' every day (and no apparently that's not a euphemism) because being nice will make you feel better ... or something.

But one thing did ring a bell and that was that you have to 'banish negative influences from your life.' So I had to stop reading trashy mystery novels because they kept giving me nightmares. I had to stop watching the news when there was any kind of mass shooting or disaster because I'd start getting paranoid that someone was going to shoot me in the street or that I was going to be hit by a hurricane. At that point life became, I must admit it Winn, very pleasant and completely devoid of stress. I had nothing to worry about or get my knickers in a bunch about.

But Winn, I got a bit of a mixed message about the people bit. If I cut down every whinging whining individual I know then life's gonna get pretty dull pretty fast. And have you ever noticed, Winn, how the most boring people actually have no idea they are boring as hell and often even try and be funny, creating the Frankenstein hybrid: the Comicbore. No, frankly you can keep your upbeat types with their practical jokes. I prefer people with lots and lots of dysfunctional problems as long as they have some good stories. Yes of course I want to know about someone's husband who has an uncontrollable gambling habit, who disappears for weeks and who has several illegitimate kids his wife has just found out about on a 'Don't Date This Man' website. Winn claims when someone starts dishing about all the 'negative shit in their lives' you're meant to say 'listen I love you but I can't be burdened by your emotional garbage.' To which I say WTF?

Firstly I'm not attracted to nice people. I mean nice people are all well and good. They bring you casseroles when you're sick and offer to mind your kids even when you tell them they have swine flu. But are they any good for a rollicking good gossip about whether Mrs Dobbins at Number 34 is having it off with Mr Blackstone at Number 67 because his Merc is always parked outside her house from one to two on weekdays? Of course they're not. They're useless for that.

So I really need some advice on this. If you can't have a bloody good gossip with someone what in the name of God are you meant to talk about? That's what I can't get my head around.

I mean I'm pleased that I'm all Zen and that but I'm simply not attracted to nice people. I can forgive people anything really - turning up very late, driving me somewhere and getting lost for hours, me always buying them drinks, mild body odour, a dreadful spouse, even an interest in watching indoor bowling if they are 1. entertaining 2. have some bloody good gossip.

Is that so wrong? Am I going to have to stop consorting with the craziest nutballs in the area simply because Winn wants me to cleanse my soul of negative influences? And the irony is hairdressers are the biggest gossips out there and I go to my one less because she can cut hair and more because she has some great stories about the mentally retarded methadone addict next door who was stalking her before she got a restraining order.

Please tell me dear readers what to do. Do I have to permanently give up hot gossip and bitchfests with my pals in order to have a parched and pure interior life to rival that of Sting or the Dalai Lama? Or can I indulge in the odd nugget of gossip on high days and holidays. Or share your pearls of wisdom on this thorny issue: what do you talk to nice people about? Answers on a postcard.