When I was a little girl a friend's mother caught me reading in her daughter's room during a birthday party. I had to put the book away and join in the games. 'We'll have to reconsider inviting you again' she sighed, 'if you can't join in.'
Truth is I never have been a great joiner-inner, preferring to read, quite happy with my own company and loathing 'organised fun'; party games are my idea of complete hell.
But that doesn't make me a loner. A few friends, a bottle of wine, chat and good food? Heaven. It can be hard though, working part time I miss the post-work spontaneous pub trips, but am at work when the other mums go running or have coffee - and I'm usually too knackered to drag myself out once the 9yo has been chauffeured to her activity-of-the-evening. Most of my closest friends live over 200 miles away. It can get a little lonely even for someone who prefers to live in books.
Sometimes it feels like it's just you, that everyone else is out having a fun packed, busy social life. But last week I had a casual chat to two very different women and realised that actually most people feel that way, trapped in an exhausting cycle of kids, work, domestic chores and money worries. Thank heaven for books and writing.
And thank heaven for social media.
I love both Twitter and Facebook. There are lots of people who mourn the loss of letters, phone calls, even emails and hate the way the world is divided into quick snippets.Not me. My friends may be be 200 miles away but I can see their son on his first day of school - and console them after they waved him goodbye. I can flick through their holiday pictures, celebrate the good and listen to the bad. I can chitchat with them. They are closer despite the distance because we still interact, we don't just communicate in edited highlights.
I have made new friends too, my Tweet stream is a fascinating mix of politics and writing, I met my amazing, talented Crit Partners online and Twitter is the first place to check everything from what dog breed would be suitable to correct grammar. To wrinkle brows at Tess Daly's dress sense and try to avoid spoilers during the Homeland/Downton Abbey scheduling clash.
And no one expects you to put down your book to join in. Even better!