Know-it-alls and busybodies abound

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By madcap inventor John Ward

I think it’s the times, but be then again it could me not keeping up with the modern way of things as it seems that things you take for granted, are sometimes not the case.

Knowledge seems to come in assorted shapes and forms as the following may illustrate. Recently I was at a car, or if you wanna be really picky, a transport event and it’s always a delight (I lie, I lie – they do my head in at times) to hear the comments of the lesser-brained mortal that hides behind the guise of Joe or Josephine Public who will wander up to the owner of a vehicle on display and enter into a game of verbal tennis about the vehicle displayed and in a lot of cases – it’s tempting to say ‘most’ instead of ‘lot’ but I could upset those who are only let out at the weekends to bother or pester folk – it’s then high comedy when you hear the conversation flow.

One entry line is roughly based on the following: “My brother/dad/uncle/make somebody up/ had one of these you know – identical as yours and was the same colour as this one as well, but his was dark blue.” Another gem is although they have never owned the model in question, they like to think they know more about it than you, based on the theory “a chap up our street had one” and “he gave me a lift [once] in it” and this makes them an expert – don’t laugh, I’ve heard this more than once.

Those from the world of fantasy also show their mettle when they say with some form of pride (or then again it could be a stomach upset and it’s up to you to decide either way) that their highly-polished pride and joy, or specimen, is “worth thousands” and then they take a verbal walk into the land of the fairies as they relate that “one just the same as this one, but different, went on a well-known online auction site for megabucks, you know” and this comes as a bit of a surprise to his other half, who sits in her deckchair opposite, knitting hand-made catapults or filling in a crossword, as, if it is supposed to be worth this quoted, mythical “megabucks”, how come they need a new stair carpet as it’s near threadbare, and their pet whippet Archie tripped the other day and slid down the stairs?Back to the crossword: two down, one across, five letters: I-D-I-O-T.

Away from the world of polished metal and daydreams, we enter the realms of Nosey Brigade territory, where everything is not quite as it might seem at first hearing or then again, seeing is akin to believing. The mainstay of the much-spotted “know it all” is that delightful, hand-reared person who knows everything, seen everything and hears everything, and is a full-time, joined-up member of the Rubberneckers and Curtain Twitchers League and at anytime their Gold Award for not minding their own business is expected to arrive – oddly, they don’t know the actual time of its arrival, of course, but they do know the last time “that bloke across the road put his rubbish out and I swear he thinks recycling is a similar event to the London Marathon, but they use wheels and pedals instead of feet”. Many years ago, we had perhaps a platinum class Curtain Twitcher; that was Our Grace – no longer with us as she has departed to stand behind a bush outside the Pearly Gates, to see who is going in I suppose, and report back – who was the eyes and ears of our road at the time. Some years ago I came back from London in the early hours after attending a function and as I entered the top of our road, I switched the car engine off so as not to wake anybody and coasted the last couple of hundred yards and came to rest outside our house, and during this process I did not even see a cat or any form of life, but...

Teatime that day, and as I was walking towards home coming back from town, Our Grace was leaning on her front garden gate (it had leather elbow pads nailed on or so legend had it, along with armrests fitted to her front room curtains) and as I drew near, she beckoned me over – it’s like being called over , spelt different of course, but it does mean the same – and she leaned over, looked in all seven directions (not much got past Our Grace) and she said in a low voice – her high voice was away at the mender’s – “I saw/heard you got in home at just gone 14 minutes past three this morning, then!” I replied that this was quite right, as I had missed the 3am arrival slot as traffic was bad near Luton on the motorway.

On her passing, it was believed that representatives of MI5, the CIA, KGB, FBI and even perhaps MFI, attended her service, although there were those who said they could have been trainee door-to-door salesmen swept away with the euphoria, as they were in plain clothes after all. It has also been said that her coffin slowly went through to the crematorium, and the curtains closed behind it, but a minute or two later many claim they saw the curtains twitch. Before this, as a mark of respect, many of the mourners during the service kept swivelling their heads round to “see if anything was going on”. I feel sure she would have wanted it that way.

As we get older, of course, we are more adept at noticing that members of the younger generation, when not clicking away on their handheld devices, appear to be very knowledgeable in just about everything and anything, and it makes one wonder why we have so many medical problems in the world, this one, that still require finding a cure for. I well remember a few years ago a neighbour locked himself out of his car with his keys inside said locked car, and on hearing about this I enquired as to how he got that sorted out, and asked if he got one of the motoring rescue organisations to attend and sort – nope, wasn’t a member – or the local garage? – nope, too busy – and after that, I said he had to tell me as I had run out of ideas.

He said he got the five-year-old lad from two doors up, who came and twiddled a bit of wire and a penknife and opened the door for him. I said this was amazing and he replied: “Yes, to a degree, but the same lad seemed unable to use a handkerchief or know what one was.”

His final words still have a certain something, as he said: “Isn’t it odd that these kids of today have got all the answers to everything – okay, they perhaps don’t understand the questions – yet they still have to get their parents to sign for their library books as they are not old enough?”

I did reply: “It’s a case of you just can’t rush everything at once.”