Healing ritual

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I can’t remember how long ago I stopped reading a broadsheet newspaper every Sunday. Occasionally, I have fond memories of going to a club in Camden Town every Sunday afternoon, hearing a live band, having a Sunday brunch and reading the same newspaper. This ritual gave me a lot of pleasure for a long time.

The newspaper had so many sections, I tended to focus on four or five of them, to keep in touch with what felt like the zeitgeist of those times. There was an agony aunt column that I found particularly interesting to read.

Every week, the agony aunt selected a letter from a reader which outlined a pressing problem that he or she needed to solve. Her responses were beautifully written and always made sense to me. It’s possible that I used her column as a weekly guide for growing up emotionally.

After a long period of being away from home, possibly working on a theatre project, I stopped buying the paper and read some sections online instead. Eventually, a pay wall was introduced and I lost interest in keeping up.

Several years later, I was shocked to discover that the agony aunt committed suicide. She had been wrestling with depression for a long time, yet she managed to draw from her inner wisdom to advise others for what felt like a decade. Sadly, like the proverbial physician, she wasn’t able to heal herself. I guess this account has a moral, but I’m still trying to work out what it is.