Doors and things
Its on odd occasions - and do I know about them - you get the feeling that the world has gone mad as the things you hear or learn about seem like flights of fantasy or you wonder how do the people or the person concerned manage to cross the road without help or use of a hand rail as while they look quite normal or what might pass the exam for being said normal, they give cause for concern in what they say or do.
Recently I had lunch with a novelist who is researching ‘a short list of people’ (or possibly a list of short people?) for a book/plus possible ‘el cheapo’ telly programme on ‘being British’ (bit too late to claim I was Eskimo I thought) but one little nugget he came out with was ‘had I always been British?’ but I replied that the last x-rays I had taken showed I was indeed British through and through although in fairness they were of my knee but as nothing else had changed since in the rest of my body sections as far as I was aware, he could put a tick in the box marked 100 per cent (plus VAT) ‘British’.
Bearing in mind the list of books he has written (he said or quoted of) I was mildly surprised he took that without batting an eyelid but I suspect he may well have worked, went unchallenged or wandered around at the BBC in some under-achieving but overrated capacity at some point but I didn’t inquire.
Another little question on his tablet he posed (the tablet was the electronic type not the ‘two a day, with water’ after breakfast variety) was ‘overall had I led an ordinary life otherwise?’ (the ‘ordinary’ or ‘otherwise’ bits were not fully explained) so based on that overall question I replied accordingly.
I grew up (bet that’s scuppered a few ideas some may have had) in the family home where we had to cope with there just being one door per room, some with two, some that had to share one door between two rooms but where there was a shortage of doors, we had to make do with windows but there were usually fitted in half way up the walls but most had glass in them which was handy in some cases as we could look in from the outside to see which rooms had doors fitted but more importantly, which way the doors opened - to the left or the right - to save looking for a door handle or knob once inside.
I further explained that as you viewed our house from the road, one side had a bigger type of door and we called this the front door plus half way down it had a letterbox but undeterred he said this was to be expected after the second world war (?) but on hearing that I was more than glad I had a poor education rather then my seemingly ‘over educated’ companion, who only ‘drank coffee with cold water by choice’ although there are some outlets I know of where it happens regardless of any whims, desires or fancies.
After a few hours we parted company with his wonderful words in my ears, both of them, of ‘I have had an absolutely fascinating time and you will be hearing from me again’ (I thought here we go - starts uttering threats about possible meeting again) but if nothing else the encounter gave me a few paragraphs to churn out for your possible delight.
These encounters do tend to remind me of other such occasions with the following being another example of daftness.
Years ago friend Derek introduced me to his mum so we had a lot in common as we both had a mum each, so a good starting point or so I thought but it was only once the clattering of conversation took hold that things went slightly skew-whiff as they say.
Derek’s mum started the block rolling - it was too slow to be a ball - by asking me: ‘Do I know you at all?’ which must be up there among the platitudes of ‘Do you know who I am?!’ for dire, meaningless and crass intros but at least for a first encounter I could report that she had a pulse, could breathe unaided plus reasonable eyesight so based on this exploratory start I felt I would/could keep the conversation going.
I pointed out that I knew her son Derek through our common interest (we had been on the same fundraising committee - we did the actual work but gallantly left it to others not so active/bone idle even, to take the credit as and when appropriate plus photo shoots etc and any free tea and biscuits going) so possibly why I had never really met mum before, but to which she said he had mentioned me in passing.
To make light of it I said I always shopped in Passing’s as they had a wider choice plus being local.
If the initial reaction to that was anything to go by, any expectations of a Christmas card were getting remote by the nano second judging by the icy stare which made me think she would make somebody a nice, domineering mother-in-law if not already enlisted as such - Derek was single at the time as he had just been divorced then or ‘between wardrobes’ as he put it tactfully.
Derek was quite an out-going type - he knew how the doors opened in the house - and was nothing like his mum although I am nothing like mine also which led me to wonder if the two mum’s could be related somehow?
Next was Derek saying to his mum, while looking in my direction, that I might know ‘their Ronnie’ who was Derek’s cousin apparently, to which the rapid response was: ‘YOU know we don’t talk about HIM!’ as Derek asked why not to which the reply, short but brief was: ‘We just don’t talk about IT or HIM – ever!..’ but then the subject was changed as Derek’s mum asked me what I did but to be honest I could hardly say I mentally collected the antics of deranged and other inspiring folk to possibly write about in the foreseeable future, assuming one presented itself - a future that is.
To justify my existence I said I was ‘a sort of inventor type’ to which she replied she thought so as I had ‘that type of haircut’ as I replied it was either that or take up the violin but being left handed I chose the former option as it involved lesser rehearsals and things.
She asked me if I knew of or was aware of Sir Isaac Newton as I explained while we were in different years at places of education plus different schools (and centuries despite rumours to the contrary) it was odd we never met or bumped into one another to which she said it was perhaps because ‘I was afraid to mix with others of the same mindset’ (!) but quite who these ‘others’ were she never expanded on but assumed that cousin Ronnie was not among them as just what would he have told me - or us - but whether Isaac and the other lads were also aware of this idea I didn’t know for sure.