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how do we say goodbye?

December 17, 2011

I wrote this piece seven or eight years ago. I cant remember for what purpose or why. It is a little ragged around the edges and is a bit clunky in places but i still kind of like it. This was the second piece in what became a bit of a series. If i can find the other bits i will post them. Let me know what you think….


ps. Turns out i wrote as part of a A level theatre studies course i was teaching on. I think this was my response/ contribution to a performance question set to the group. I wrote this as my contribution.


how do we say goodbye?


we say it with sorrow

we say it with regret

we say it with affection

we say it with hope

we say it with longing

we say it with fear

we say it with love

in the time we have together only one thing is inevitable – we must, some time, say goodbye.

As I look back there is a part of me that would like to return. If I don’t think too hard I would like to be 16 again. Year 12. Lower Sixth in old money. I had a fantastic time. In 1995 AS exams did not exist, the fist year of Sixth Form was the first year of the A2 – essentially a year of freedom and discovery. I learnt a lot about myself and those around me. I began to discover what was important to me and understand who I was. If only I realised all that at the time. If I remember clearly, I thought I already knew these things.

If time is forever then why does goodbye seem to promise an end?

On Bill Clinton’s last day in the White House, his departing aides played a curious practical joke on the incumbent president, George W. Bush.

When Bush’s own staffers arrived, they were astonished to find that each of the building’s computers had had the “W” key removed from its keyboard!

Some Famous Goodbyes:

Lord Nelson

Margaret Thatcher

The one in Casablanca (?)

Richard Nixon



The Littlest Hobo

Nelly the Elephant

Three years ago I was on the verge of my greatest achievement to date. A show at Warwick Arts Centre, a 700 seat venue, which I had spent four months of my life on, was minutes from opening. The company, formed of course mates of mine, were about to earn a pilot for TV and had already penned a show for radio. The show was a major deal. Important people would be there for the opening night. Rehearsals had been good. I had never been prepared for a show so well. The tech and dress had gone well and remarkably, we were ahead of time. There was actually time to breath a good 45 minutes before the house opened on the first night. 14th March 2001. As we were ahead of time I turned on my phone moments before I would order the house to be opened. As I walked up the central aisle back to the control room for the opening of the show my phone vibrated in my pocket. A message. A recording. A voice recorded from another time. I was seconds away from the beginning of the show. Against my better judgement I listened to the message. My Grandmother had been taken into hospital after collapsing at her home. She was 94. A last chance to say Goodbye?

As Allen Ginsberg left his lodgings atColumbiaUniversityfor the very last time, he bid adieu to his humble home:

“Goodbye door, goodbye bowl,” he remarked, gazing around. “Goodbye stair number one, goodbye stair number two..” – whereupon Jack Kerouac interjected: “Oh,” he said, “do you do that as well?”

Both men, Ginsberg later explained, saw life as a series of goodbyes – or, as Kerouac famously remarked, “a dream already over.”

As I finished my degree atWarwickthe opportunity arose for me to go on toLeedsUniversityto do a Masters Degree. Coincidently, my lecturer for British Theatre had been on that same course a few years previously and so knew the department well. Only the previous summer he had returned with his own company to perform in their new space. We talked at some length about all the pros and cons of going toLeeds. Finally, he said to me:

if you are going to go –  then you have got to learn how to say No

At the time I wasn’t sure what he meant. I was only inLeedstwo weeks before his words began to echo in my head. Opportunities were many and varied and by the end of two weeks my batteries had run flat. For the first time in my life I had worked so hard that one morning I found myself unable to get out of bed – the thought of the coming day paralysed me into non-action. I had worked many hours on shows in the past. I have worked 38 hour shifts before grabbing a couple of hours sleep to get up again and work for another 16 hours. But two weeks had done for me. I was at the end. Nobody was surprised when I rang in and told them I wasn’t going to be coming in. It was only as I could hear the disappointment in their voice that I realised the true significance in the words which now haunted me. Unless I learned how to say No I would let people down. It is better to concentrate on one thing and be satisfied than on many things and fail to satisfy all those you committed to. Sometimes there really aren’t enough hours in the day.

A certain distinguishedOxforddon was in the nasty habit of inviting clever young undergraduates out for a long walk. As it would be left to his companion to begin the conversation, an excruciating silence would usually be broken by the mortified student making a trite remark – which the don would meet with a soul-crushing retort.

F. E. Smith, well aware of the don’s reputation, set off on his walk with a plan in mind. The men walked in utter silence for more than an hour, until the don finally felt compelled to speak. “They tell me,” he remarked, “they tell me you’re clever, Smith. Are you?” “Yes,” Smith simply replied – and said nothing further until they had arrived at the college. “Goodbye, sir,” Smith then said. “I’ve so much enjoyed our talk.”

Smith, Frederick Edwin, Future First Earl of Birkenhead, British barrister and Conservative politician, Attorney General and Lord Chancellor.

Kiss me Hardy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We’re leaving Downing Street for the last time after eleven-and-a-half wonderful years, and we’re very happy that we leave theUnited Kingdomin a very, very much better state than when we came here eleven and a half years ago.

Here’s looking at you kid…..

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God’s grace be with you in all the days ahead.



I’ll be right here.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union andEastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

There’s a place that keeps on calling me. Down the road is where I’ll always be. Every stop I make, I make a new friend. Can’t stay for long – turn around and I am gone again.

Packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus.

How many times during the course of a single day do we say goodbye? There are perhaps fewer words in the English language that are said so frequently. However, despite the frequency with which we say it, it seldom loses its significance. Take, for example, the word thank you or its many variations. Thanks, cheers, ta, etc etc….think about a common event, for instance a checkout at a supermarket. Now, think about the number of times a thank you is exchanged by those involved in the act of paying for the goods. You get to the checkout the following conversation could take place:

Cashier – hello

You – hi

Cahier – do you have a reward card

Yes – here you go

Thank you

Would you like help packing

No thanks

(Processing of goods takes place……..)

That’ll be £23.41 please

(You give debit card) thanks

(Cashier takes card) thank you.

Would you like Cash back?

Yes. Could I have £20 please.

(Hands you credit card slip to sign) thank you

Thank you

Here’s your cash back

Thank you.

And your receipt.


Thanks goodbye.

Cheers. Bye

Although, perhaps a little exaggerated, but not that much, and although I know someone with whom when speaking on the phone I can say goodbye and still be on the phone ½ hour later, such is the power of the word that more often than not, one goodbye is enough.

but how do we say goodbye?

we say it with sorrow

we say it with regret

we say it with affection

we say it with hope

we say it with longing

we say it with fear

we say it with love

we say it as we mean it

in the time we have together only one thing is inevitable – we must, some time, say goodbye.

Goodbye and thanks for the fish

From → Creativity

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