Service of What is Good Company?

October 11th, 2012

Categories: Friendship, Radio, TV


A book Kathleen Fredrick is reading, “TIME TO BE IN EARNEST: A Fragment of Autobiography,” by P.D.James, inspired this topic, a crucial one indeed.

chattingFredrick, a writer and retired editor, was interested by this excerpt: “James says that the Conversatione** was an enjoyable and welcome experience and: ‘I was reminded of the conversation between Mr. Elliott and his cousin Anne Elliott in PERSUASION: “My idea of good company, Mr. Elliott, is the company of clever and informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’ ‘You are mistaken,’ he said gently. ‘That is not good company, that is the best.'”

[James had attended a ** Conversatione on Culture and Society that gathered 80+ representatives. The three-day event included people from church, finance, the arts, academia and journalism.]

familydinnerHere’s what I think: I am blessed by family and friends who are articulate and opinionated and make for great company because they freely share their thoughts. Sometimes I can’t wait to hear what they think! Conversation is never dull.

I like visiting businesses–restaurants, stores, doctor’s offices–where staff at least appears to be interested in my company.

It takes effort and energy to be good company. My parents had a neighbor who would say “Give a good time,” when, as a kid, I was going out with friends [she didn’t mean what you may think]. Our family had an old friend whom my great aunt criticized because she didn’t add to the conversation-didn’t share-though she might ask an occasional question.

strollingcraftfairI’ve become increasingly good company to myself which wasn’t always the case. There are things I love to do alone such as visiting a craft fair. I go at my pace, don’t have to waste time exploring a booth of no interest to be polite to a companion and don’t have to cringe when my friend or family member expresses negative comments at high decibels about someone’s work or prices while standing next to them.

However I prefer going to a movie, concert or play with someone so that I can discuss it afterwards. If I’m alone at a hotel I put on the TV for company. At home, I add the radio, especially in the morning or if I can’t sleep at night. And I like to work in a place with others around me.

Whom or what do you consider good company?


4 Responses to “Service of What is Good Company?”

  1. GBS Said:

    Your friend, Kathleen Fredrick, is right up my alley on this one! P. D. James is always fun to read, even if she has become a little bit odd at times in her old age, and she’s absolutely right about the delight of stimulating conversation.

    During my early days of making a living, being a skilled conversationalist was a talent that was useful well beyond the drawing room. One tended then to do business with customers with whom one felt compatible, and the most desirable clients in those days tended to be those that were managed by the better educated and more sophisticated elements in our population. Naturally, these also tended to be men and women, who valued the art of conversation, which made working with them not just a way to stay alive, but also pleasurable.

    Two thoughts on conversation itself:
    1. I suspect skillful listening may be the most effective conversational tool of all. There is nothing more flattering than having someone listen to you in rapt awe while you mouth off about something.
    2. Contented silence is almost as rewarding as being a party to lively dialogue.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Earlier today I heard a colleague, who is in sales, say to a potential client and former associate, how great it was to catch up on the phone because everything is done by email these days.

    Just as I am certain that the more we type the less we can physically write, [as proof my always bad handwriting is worse than ever], I am pretty sure that the less we converse, even on the phone in the course of business, the rustier and less able we’ll be able to do so in future. What a loss!

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    It all depends on the time of day: 1) A bridge partner who is focused on winning and who does not whine when things go wrong. 2) A friend with similar interests, but not necessarily similar views, and who does not whine & etc. 3) A cat. Cats don’t whine!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    You are right about cats, Lucrezia, they speak clearly and let their wills be known but they don’t whine.

    Sometimes a person needs to whine, and a friend lets them whine, but it doesn’t make them good company as you wrote.

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