I recently had an article in the Spectator.
The day after the link appeared on twitter I had a tweet from someone offering me a link to their blog. I knew better than to follow it, seeing the source, so ignored it. It was followed by a second, saying I would like this blog post. Friends told me it was a post where I was being rubbished, so I tweeted back to the effect that I know this person wants to hurt me (this is not her first ‘go’) so why would I check out her link? No thanks.
I then received this from a friend of hers:
Anne, you write in the National press in a very forceful way being more than scathing about NGS gardens et al & yet accuse AS of wanting to hurt you! You put yourself well above the parapet so accept the results.
I responded to the effect that AS can write what she wishes but I don’t want her to send me the links to it. And if someone writes nasty blog posts about me and sends me the link, it’s not odd to think they want to hurt me.
But since then I have been wondering – why should I ‘accept the results’ because I published a controversial article? What on earth does that mean?
Let’s get this straight: I have to ‘accept the results’ – whatever they are, because they are out of my control. That is the bit that is inevitable, and I know that, of course.
And I do know I will attract venom and abuse. I do. Comes with the territory.
But I can also still be hurt. Hurt is hurt – not much choice about it anyway. Hurt is something we feel, not something we do.
I criticise. I am told, sometimes, with a kind of punitive relish, that if I ‘hand it out, I must take it too’. I think this means I mustn’t mind/complain.
I imagine that the people I am critical of mind. And they frequently complain. And I mind when they are critical of me. I might wish to complain too. I am as human as they are. Even if I am in print. Why the hell would that make a difference to how I feel?
PS Ha! I’ve just realised – how stupid of me. What they mean when they say I should ‘accept the results’ is ‘you deserve to be hurt’.