A few days ago I received my annual New Year's card from J, who lives in the States. I met her about 25 years ago when I was doing a drama summer school. While all the 20-somethings were stumbling around, hungover and complaining, J, who was already about 60, would be there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to start work at 9am.
She was always one of those people who are good for the soul. In the years since, I've seen her every few years when she's been on one of her many UK trips. The lady goes everywhere and she's always been keenly interested in everything, intelligent, humane, kind. The sort of person you could tell your feeble troubles to and feel better about them.
However, last year I received an email with a sentence in it which made me think something was not quite right. I pushed away the thought - it must just be my imagination. She was visiting England with her son and suggested coming to Brighton for us to have lunch. This was duly arranged and a few months back I met them.
This time, however, there was no mistake. Midway through our lunch, she told me how wonderful it had been to attend a Trump rally recently, how bad a press he got and what a great job he was doing.
I was stunned. We have an image of what Trump supporters are. My friend, who as an actor, has worked with gay people and ethnic minorities, not to mention believes in championing women, the poor and the under-privileged, does not fit that mould. It made me think about the Brexit debate, which seems the UK's equivalent situation to the orange monster. I remember a quote at the time: Not all Leave voters are racists, but every racist voted Leave.
Readers, I'm afraid I said nothing. Just changed the subject as quickly as I could. I know, it was spineless and this is how fascism took hold. My friend is in her mid-80s though. In all likelihood, I might never see her again. Was a political argument, that could only end in ill-feeling, the best last meeting to have? I felt guilty about it though. And I still do.
Back to a few days ago. I put the round-robin (more Trump praise) that had come with the card straight in the bin.
I've been reading an Alan Bennett diaries (very slowly. Not because I don't enjoy it, but because it's in the bathroom, reserved for my post-shower sit in towel to dry off). It made me realise I would LOVE my own 'What I've been up to this week!' type column in a paper/magazine. So would many thousands of others, I'd imagine. So, I've created my own additional section here. Less ranty, reflectiony or reviewy than the other bits.