Send this on to 15 people – and die!

I SHOULD, according to the many people who send me emails, be the most unlucky person in the world.

I’m not. Indeed, I consider I have lived a blessed life and there is no sign of that changing.

Hang on – there is one exception: every day I am subjected to a torrent of cloying and sentimental email claptrap involving, among other things, puppies, orphans, teachers, small birds, small children and God.

And before you accuse me of being heartless I want you to know that at Christmas I bought goats for small children (and their parents) in Africa. I am a sentimentalist and a romantic and I keep it to myself.

That’s the nature of sentiment. It’s a private matter. Once you start trying to share it, it becomes tacky.

And yet the world is full of people who want to send you these stories over the internet. That’s all right. Somehow they have my email address and there’s nothing I can do about it.

But I swear that if one more person tells me I must send this suffocating rubbish on to 15 other people so I receive good luck or — worse — to avoid bad luck, my computer is going out the window.

Do they believe this nonsense? How? Why!

Presumably they’ve tried it themselves. Did it work?

I doubt it. I have been known to write the occasional warm and fuzzy thoughts right here, in this column, but I can assure you that if you photocopied them and mailed them to 15 people all you would receive would be a bill for the postage.

I have such an email message right here in front of me. It concerns a small child who couldn’t get its mother’s attention. The mother was too busy. Then she had some kind of epiphany involving a friend and the death of the friend’s mother.

It seems the friend was heartbroken because she didn’t know her mother better, and all because the mother was always too busy. I think God might have had something to do with it, too.

Now, although I’m not a big fan of God, I am a complete sucker for mothers and small children. But really – sentimentality is a tricky meal to serve. Too much sugar and the reader is likely to throw up all over the computer screen.

It’s possible to read so many of these horrible little homilies that they stop stirring the heart and start stirring the stomach.

Even more frightening is that some of these people are my friends! We share common views about things. Things like wine, and politics, and music. How can I know someone (how can I like someone!) who peddles this… stuff!

How can I have anything in common with a person who believes that if I forward their saccharine messages to 15 other unsuspecting saps that I’ll have good luck.

I want to email back and tell them: look, I don’t care if the puppy was saved by a blind person whose sight was restored by some curative power of the puppy’s lick.

I do not swoon at space-pictures of the world accompanied by unctuous platitudes like “If you love something, set if free” or “the best things in life are not things.”.

But if I did they’d probably strike me from their email lists and their party invitations.