CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Sue Limb: The Cringing Game

PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 May 2015

As an adult, of course, you should have learned how to take criticism

As an adult, of course, you should have learned how to take criticism


If I was a dog I’d be permanently in the submissive posture, doleful pleading eyes, my body curled round like a croissant, looking at people backwards over my own arse

Do you just shrug off criticism? ‘Water off a duck’s back’. ‘Hide like an elephant’ . ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’? Are you impervious to criticism? I’m terribly pervious. As pervious as a string vest in an Arctic gale.

Right from the off, the brickbats flew. I was born horribly wrinkled, scaly and grumpy and my mother’s disappointment is still evident in the Baby’s Progress Book in which she recorded my lack of progress. “First smiled on October 17th – and not since” she wrote. Rather bitchily in my view.

I went on to be a disappointing child. I remember my mum and dad returning from a Parents’ Evening at my junior school and telling me, “Mr Godwin says you’ll never be much of a mathematician”. I hated maths and I knew I wasn’t very good at it, but it was terribly wounding of Mr Godwin to have said that. I shut myself in my bedroom and wept into my bear – who also, incidentally, despised me.

As a teenager of course my loathsomeness increased. My school reports grew darker in tone. “Susan must cultivate a much more gracious manner…” OK, so I was going through my scowling and slouching phase, but did the German teacher really have to mention it? It might have been tasteless of me to imitate Hitler and be caught in the act of goose-stepping, but a more sympathetic observer might have seen this as The Dawn of Satire. A much more gracious manner? I’m still smarting from that, and I’m sorry to say I still haven’t developed a gracious manner. Get over it!!!

Then, though I managed to get in to university, my supervisors saw through me. I’d always enjoyed writing essays, but sometimes mere enjoyment wasn’t enough. I should really have read the set books and delivered some ideas instead of repeating gossip about Milton’s marriage. Often I was just too busy lying in bed and eating important biscuits to do justice to Paradise Lost. At the bottom of one of my essays my teacher wrote, “Cliché-ridden journalistic rubbish”. I’m so ashamed. I really don’t know why I’m telling you this. Though if you’re a regular reader you might feel that I have kept up that standard ever since.

As an adult, of course, you should have learned how to take criticism. It helps, of course, if you can also dish it out. But I have smuggled rotten fish out of restaurants in my handbag rather than complain. I even say “Bad dog!” with a kind of apologetic, cringing air.

If I was a dog, I’d be permanently in the submissive posture, ears folded back , doleful pleading eyes, my body curled round like a croissant, looking at people backwards over my own arse. Maybe I should do this anyway if there’s a chance it might deflect criticism and endear me to my fellow humans. What do you think?

I wrote some sit coms for Radio 4 recently, a parody of the Bloomsbury Group called Gloomsbury. In fact, the third series starts on May 29 at 11.30am. Please don’t think this whole column has been leading up to a shameless plug for my series. How could you think that? I’m deeply hurt.

Plenty of people enjoyed the first two series and were kind enough to say so, but the really memorable comment was the man who tweeted, “Couldn’t get to the Off switch fast enough”.

Comedy is a very personal taste, of course. Why should I require absolute admiration? Why shouldn’t I tolerate a bit of healthy criticism? I have a horrid feeling that if I was a politician, I’d be Kim Jong Limb.

At this time of year I’m often in the greenhouse, fussing over my sweet pea seedlings and young tomato plants. But what I really need to grow is a spine.

We’re planning to have a goose next Christmas, and I’m hoping to be able to say boo to it. OK, it won’t actually be flapping and hissing in a threatening way, but managing to say boo to a dead, roasted goose would at least be a start.


This article by Sue Limb is from the 2015 issue of Cotswold Life magazine


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Yesterday, 12:03

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search