Thursday, 24 February 2011

Exchanging Pleasantries

Alan Bennett's 'A Woman of No Importance'
taking small talk to new heights

Today I had some conversations with strangers. I didn't verbally initiate the conversations, though perhaps I sent out a vibe of approachability, I usually exude standoffishness.
Firstly, I chatted to a lady who looked to be in her late 60's, she was eating fish and chips alone. The conversation centred around the difficulties of looking after two young children. "I've got two sons, had them close together like you" she said. It was very noisy in the cafe, the road is being dug up outside, this entertained the boys, so it was tolerable. As the conversation progressed, the lady (who looked like a Margaret or Barbara) went on to say my sons were "well behaved". Panic set in, my children aren't well behaved, this happened to be a very rare half hour slot of compliance. I hoped she would go before the truth emerged, I'm just another mum who lets her kids mess around because it's too tiring to constantly discipline them. As she left, she leant in and told me to treasure my time with the children, reminded me of how quickly they grow up, and added "I haven't got much time left". I felt rather sad, I'd obviously reminded her of a younger version of herself.

On to the most depressing shop in town; B&M bargains, I'd promised to buy the boys a toy with some money my aunty gave me. It's like an upmarket pound shop, a sweet shop, off-licence... the list goes on. People seem to think it's a sort of Mecca because you can leave with a transit-van full of shite and get change from £20. I often see blokes strutting down the main road, fag about to drop it's ash, baseball cap threatening to fall off and large heavy cardboard box resting on their shoulder. It's the male equivalent of 'Mum's gone to Iceland'... 'dad's been to B&M's' (to pick up a black MDF multimedia stand).
It took ages for the queue to go down, two tills open and about 19 people waiting with baskets brimming with sweets and cans. I joined in the moaning about the queues with the lady behind, but I wasn't that bothered really, I don't plan on frequenting there. £6.87 lighter, we head for the park because I just want to be out even  if it is wet. The park is busier than expected, and I see a mum from the school, I become very nosey and ask about how she met her husband, where he works, if she wants more children and all sorts of other prying questions. All of my questions were happily answered, and we also agreed that being home with your children is worth being skint for (probably because we both had crap jobs before).
We should have headed home after the park, but I chanced the barbers, imagined it'd be quite a short wait.
Beating hairdressers at their own game

This became the low point of the day, youngest son was tired/emotional but middle son was hell-bent on getting an orange lolly for sitting nicely. We waited for 45 minutes, it was stressful and I looked like someone not coping well with motherhood. There was a very attractive lady sitting next to me with her son, he was four, and dressed in the style of JLS. I chatted to her on and off, just eavesdropped when a friend of her partner's came in. From what I could gather (this is mainly based on intelligent guessing) her partner is a well respected drug-dealer. There were numerous statements like "Oh, I know him, he gets stuff off us" and "Yeah, filled him in big time, fucking grassing twat". This seemed a shame, not so much the drug-dealing, but the foul language and vitriol, she really was a stylish, attractive and serene looking person. 
Hair cut didn't happen, I gave up and was happy to not have to spend £9. 

On the way home I saw a friend of my eldest's mum. I talked to her for longer than I expected, but remembered she always did have plenty of time for small-talk. I soon started to wonder if I had bird shit on me, my skirt was tucked in my knickers or something-everyone seemed to be giving me obviously dirty looks.
I passed several more people I'm on nodding terms with, and finally stopped at the corner shop, chatting to the shopkeeper for a while.

 As I sat to drink my tea later on, I thought about Alan Bennett's 'A Woman of no Importance'...that's me, that is.

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