I’d say it’s what separates us, not from the beasts, but the bestial. Creating the future, renewing a learned past - these are reasons to strive. Writing for and with love, taking and framing an image, stretching new melodic skins onto old skeletons of song… it’s how we manage to fly. It’s how we stay you and me, not us and them.
Unlike Osk, who seemed to establish his own tactical task force wherever we lived, scooping up neighbourhood feline troublemakers as sidekicks (including the memorable ginger behemoth Watson, with whom he used to scope the street from the safety of the shed roof), Jelly has the intelligence gathering skills of a sponge cake.
Anyway, somewhere in between my 'and then you should've done this' and 'why didn't you say x and y, rather than z', and 'for the love of monkeys and the general public's eyesight, you didn't honestly wear that heinous shirt did you', something he was saying about the dating extravaganza we were picking to pieces finally penetrated my cloud of self-congratulatory cumulo-waffle.
"Most people don't talk about how dates are progressing as a tender process, do they?" he asked.
"She said I was 'part way through the tender process' and that she was judging me on my submission. I'd like to think there was irony involved, and I think at the time I may have given an admittedly weak "haha, yesssss, quite". Looking back, I'd have to conclude, computer says no on the presence of Fabulon or other aids to achieving crisply pressed linen."
There is a reason why moveable type was invented. It was to stop people gazing at their own navels wondering if they were going to go to hell for thinking naughty thoughts about Lucy the dairy maid in the next village, and start them gazing at the inside of their craniums, and thinking about whether there was life outside their planet, and if the simplest explanation was probably the correct one, or whether something was rotten in the State of Denmark. Or perhaps if a rose by any other name would smell quite as sweet.
Granted, there's a hell of a lot still written about naughty thoughts and Lucy the dairy maid, but at least some of it is written in an intelligent way, and we can choose to read about Lucy the cow whose DNA is being used to find a cure for cancer if we feel like it.
As I hung up the phone last night after a very long conversation, a topic close to my heart sprang to mind - about potential physical distance between partners. Now that the world is in so many ways a smaller place, we tend not to think so much about actual bodily separation. But when it comes down to it, relationships are not usually based on being hundreds of kilometres and states - or for that matter countries - apart.
Ask yourself the question; If you were separated from the person you love most for longer than a day, a week, a month - do you think your relationship would survive the travel test?
Obviously there are some partnerships which are more inclined towards this way of working than others (military and miners spring to mind), and hopefully people go into them with their eyes wide open. But for those who perhaps meet one day and strike up an unexpected romance - or even acquaintanceship, return to their separate corners of the world, then decide to make a go of it via e-mail, and phone, and text, and the wonderful world of the interwebs - is long distance love a realistic proposition or a romantic dream?
When it comes to keeping the flame burning bright over the boundless shores that constitute our wide brown land, I always think of the precursor to the horrendous You've Got Mail, the wonderful The Shop Around The Corner, with its post-war ideals of long-distance friendship and love between the literate. And yes, for me personally, there is no doubt that unless you have some serious electronic scribing skills going on, there ain't going to be much emotion across the ocean.
Don't underestimate the power of snail mail either; handwriting has its own mystery. And the joy of receiving a parcel in one's letterbox?
But it's not just about an ability to write what the other person wants to hear. It's about whether the relationship has more behind it than immediate physicality. Is there friendship? Is there a partnership? Are you happy for the other person to be doing things without you - probably with people you have either never met, or maybe never even heard of?
Perhaps most of all... do you trust them?
And - do they trust you?
That's the biggie.
You can write each other all the pretty words in the world. You can phone each other until the cows come home. You can use FaceTime, Skype, whatever technology is available to you. But trust...
But nonetheless valuable.
Whether you are trying to make a long-distance love work for a month, six months, a year, or longer (frightening thought), the essential question - and indeed the essential answer - will always boil down to that one word. And behind it is another word. I used it before.
With those two things well in hand, I believe you can span a country.
Or even a globe.
And of course, eventually... well, eventually you will both move mountains - or at least pack large numbers of boxes - and meet somewhere in the middle. Because that's the way the destiny cookie hopefully crumbles.
That's how it goes in the movies, anyway. So why not in real life?