Every week, I’ll be sharing a new grudge that’s not in my book — sometimes mine, sometimes someone else’s (with their permission, obviously!) There are plenty of new grudges born every minute – send yours to if you would like to share it and have it analysed!

Pauline and the Water-Spiller!


Some years ago, I spent Christmas Day with a group of people. This group included Pauline, whose house we were in. We were all sitting around playing games and eating mince pies and being generally festive, when, completely by accident, someone kicked over a glass of water that was on the floor by their feet, and spilled water on the carpet. Nothing was damaged; the carpet was just a bit wet.  

Pauline immediately became angry and ranted at the water-spiller, ‘Why  weren’t you more careful? If there’s a glass of water by your feet, there’s obviously a danger you’ll kick it over! Why didn’t you put it on the coffee table?’ The water-spiller apologised, but pointed out that no harm was done because it was only water and would soon dry. Watching in astonishment, I waited for Pauline to say, ‘Of course, sorry. It was an accident, and I don’t know why I got so steamed up about it.’ 

Pauline said nothing of the sort. Instead, she reiterated that the water-spiller should have been more careful and used the coffee table — that such accidents are eminently avoidable if one simply takes care. She proceeded to sulk, and spent the next couple of hours in a tight-lipped huff, making sure that we could all see she was Not Okay.

Nobody else was okay, either. It was impossible to relax and enjoy Christmas Day at Pauline’s house while Pauline was behaving in this manner.  Then, when she finally cheered up, everyone was so relieved — including me. The extent of our unanimous relief annoyed me, because it demonstrated to me the extent to which Pauline’s bad mood had kept us all suspended in a state of emotional and psychological tension.

Pauline never apologised, never said, ‘Sorry I overreacted and was so unpleasant and harsh’, and (Selfie Grudge coming up — that’s a grudge you hold about yourself, for anyone who hasn’t read my book!), I was never brave enough to say to her, ‘Pauline, are you aware of how often you unnecessarily allow inappropriate anger to ruin social gatherings that would otherwise be lovely and fun?’ 

Special occasions like Christmas tend to generate more grudges than ordinary occasions, and I certainly have a special ‘Christmas Drawer’ in my grudge cabinet! 

Discover Sophie’s Grudge Type classification system in HOW TO HOLD A GRUDGE – available from all good book retailers now!

About devastating historical events and atrocities, we often say, ‘Never forget’. Why? Is it that we want to extend the suffering for as long as possible? No, of course not — it’s because we know that history (the horrible bits of it especially) contains useful lessons and warnings that we would be fools to ignore.

Yet about upsetting personal incidents, we often hear people say, ‘Don’t hold a grudge. Move on, for your own sake.’ Every time we say this, we are effectively asking someone to forget the important warnings and lessons from their own life history.