Groogling The Night Away
Hands up how many of you have surfed the Internet searching for something you shouldn’t and stumbled across something you wish you hadn’t?
Count me in.
I’m not talking about naked ladies posing suggestively with tropical fruit, or the time when needing a picture for a presentation I innocently typed nuts into Google Images and found an alarming montage of human meat and two veg. Nor am I referring to when I Google-stalked an old boyfriend and instead of the strapping tennis playing hunk of eighteen I remembered, saw him as the middle-aged middle-manager Dad-in-a-bad-tie he now is. No, I’m referring to something potentially much more damaging: egosurfing, the practice of putting your name into a search engine to see what comes up.
My career means I’m named on various Internet sites across the World Wide Web. I’ve long since learnt that tapping my name into Google after a couple of sherries late at night is a recipe for disaster: twenty great reviews are meaningless compared to one where the author slates what I’ve written and holds me entirely responsible for everything they believe is wrong with the youth of today, from teenage pregnancy to thinking Jordan’s humungous breast implants are something to aim for.
Fizzing with tears and/or anger, I’d burst from my study waving a printout of the offending article and thrust it towards my husband, irrespective of whether he was watching TV, snoozing or having a shower. And because JS was a calm, thoughtful and measured man (unless someone blocked our garage when he’d make John McEnroe’s 1981 Wimbledon outburst look wussy), he’d soothe my angst, put it all into perspective, remind me I’d feel better in the morning and only later admit that he was seriously tempted to track down the reviewer and wreak terrible and lasting revenge in retaliation for hurting his wife.
But I have discovered there is one thing worse than egosurfing, and I discovered it on a dark and rainy Saturday: Grief Googling, or as it shall now be known henceforth, Groogling.
It all started innocently enough. I was sitting at the computer, trying to work out if keeping the heating on low constantly is more economical than firing it up twice a day (the jury is still out according to Money Saving Expert), when I found myself Groogling -typing my late husband’s name into Google and pressing Search.
Up came the industry obituaries and the notice in The Times.
As my heart was already banging away in my chest at the sight of JS’s name on the screen I should have stopped there, gone back to Martin Lewis and the central heating conundrum, but no, like a moth to a flame or a Page 3 model to a footballer, I clicked Images.
And there was the picture I can’t look at, the picture used on my husband’s coffin, an image taken at a wedding in Australia. JS hated having his photo taken and usually adopted his stern ‘photo face’, but the professional photographer captured the essence of the man I love and have lost: smiling, a twinkle in his eye; kind, fun, decent, caring. My soulmate for almost half my life.
The pain felt as if someone was pouring boiling water over my already scarred body. When it wouldn’t go away and my grief reached such a point I felt scared for my own safety, I rang Aussie Jo, a friend of ours who isn’t afraid of my tears and my terror, and who will always put her busy life on hold to help me. Aussie Jo did what JS used to do: she listened, she soothed, she consoled, until scores of damp tissues later, I calmed down.
She was and is marvellous.
But there was one thing JS used to say to me that Aussie Jo couldn’t: You’ll feel better in the morning.
Because when morning comes, even if I am not always outwardly convulsed with tears, I don’t feel better, not even a little bit.
And to those of you who wonder if Groogling the photo has broken some sort of emotional barrier for me? Not yet. Not yet.