Secrets. What do you do with them? So exciting when first told, they hang around your neck like Bilbo’s ring, causing you to double check your every utterance in case you inadvertently give something away.

Nice secrets are hard enough:

                                       ‘Surprise party!

Don’t mention it on pain of death.
 RSVP to this Box Office in Outer Mongolia.’ 
I find that I lose the power of speech with the person concerned. Instead of day to day chat, I am reduced to inconsequential small talk which makes me appear at best dull and at worst as if the person concerned  has offended me in some unspecified manner.

Presents – they’re another. You plan ahead and choose the most perfect gift for your loved one. But then you have to button your lip. You’re dying to share your knowledge so that they too can bask in your cleverness at finding just the right thing. But you can’t. Then doubt creeps in. What if they don’t like it? Perhaps you ought to check that you’ve been thinking along the right lines? It’s no wonder the kids struggle to keep their mouths shut after they have finished the wrapping.

But what about bad secrets? What do you do with those? Not long since, I told a friend a bad secret involving someone close to them. How did they react? They shot the messenger. Did I say shot? I meant obliterated with a bloody great blunderbuss. I won’t be doing that again.

However, what if the secret affected me and mine? Would I want to know then? After my recent experience, I have given this a lot of thought. The people that I have related my story to all looked at me with horrified faces and told me in no uncertain terms that they would want to know whatever it was that I knew. But would they? Really?

One of the disadvantages of living in such a small and inward looking town is that no matter what you do, someone will find out. I tell my children this with great delight. ‘I know everyone,’ I say. ‘You step out of line and someone will tell me.’ But would they? Perhaps they, like me now, think it wiser to keep their own counsel rather than risk an adverse response.

After careful consideration, I have decided that I would want to know and I trust my closest friends to tell me. Because, for all the humiliation that it might cause, all the feelings of doubt and disbelief that are likely to rampage around my mind, if I don’t know about it I can’t sort it. If I continue in blissful ignorance of some fact which, if it came to light, would make me behave differently, then in the long term, I will be poorer. I will have missed the opportunity to try and put right the wrong, straighten the path. I like to think that I am grown up enough to rise above the pain that the revelation might cause and just be grateful that someone had the courage to tell me.

But if you do hear something bad about one of my lot, tell me when I’m sitting down!