This is to confirm I am alive and well, hale and hearty, and the colour of my health is pink. So what, you might say, especially if you are one of those people who read the morning papers to see how many things you don’t give a hoot about. Well, it’s like this. A person with my exact same name appears to have passed away peacefully in his sleep last week (please add ‘allegedly’ and ‘apparently’ as appropriate). And doubtless the ones who have the same name but didn’t pass away peacefully in their sleep have been answering the same question over and over again. "Are you all right?"
It is, of course, a strange question to ask someone you think is dead. In the early days of the telephone, callers asked, "Are you there?" This too is silly because a) if you aren’t there, then where are you and b) if you aren’t there, then who is answering the phone? Then someone tired of all this picked up the phone angrily and said, "Hello". And that stuck. But I digress. Imagine calling up a friend to ask him if he is still alive.
On the other hand, to be fair, how do you find out? Thus it is that I have been answering the question. The last time I passed away mourned by all, I had an obituary in a newspaper. There were no glowing tributes, or declarations along the lines of "this is the end of an era". And I heard of it only when someone rang up a colleague to ask where my widow should be sent flowers.
It turned out that I wasn’t dead; another journalist had, sadly passed on, and a reporter had put two and two together and come up with twenty-two.
This time it’s different. Someone saw something on social media and put two and two together.
What does it make me if I die many times before my death? A coward, if you remember that line from Julius Caesar.
Two-ninths of a cat (so far).
Part of an era that has not ended yet.
After Alfred Nobel read his own obituary (it was actually his brother who had died) that called him "the merchant of death" for inventing dynamite, he created the Nobel Prize to make up to humanity. On social media he and all other Alfred Nobels might have had to go through the "Are you all right?" routine, forcing him to hate humanity and leave behind nothing.
When Mark Twain didn’t die (but heard about his obituary in a newspaper), he said, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." I know how he felt.
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