If we were having coffee, you would have a red cat on your knee and a notebook to write on, and we would be writing notes back and forth. Probably we would be fighting over the black cat pen — who had it last?? I thought you had your own pen!! Peeve.
There would be a fresh shower of rain streaming down the windows, as it’s pretty wet these days… windows to front and back, so you would see a quiet street out the front and a hedge at the back with a lot of big trees. The pigeons would sit in the trees and look at you. They are always there, and sometimes a grey squirrel too.
Presumably you would be writing something like, “Well, this is nice, isn’t it, but a bit puzzling. How did I come to be here?”
I would take the cat pen and reply, “I think it’s my fault. I decided to try this hashtag thing — weekendcoffeeshare — without having a clue how hashtags actually work. I thought it would bring bloggers to my page, not here to have coffee with me. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to meet you, but I do hope you will excuse the mess…”
And you would write, “Oh, the mess is fine. Just don’t do it again, that’s all! I am not quite sure how I’m going to get back now. Thingy will be wondering where I disappeared to.”
I would say, “I don’t know. If you know how to work hashtags, it might be the way home for you?”
And you would say, “Sorry, I don’t know a thing about hashtags. Never use them.”
There would be an awkward silence, then the red cat (Delilah) would stretch happily and dig her claws in, as she does love having someone new to
torture sit on.
You would say, in a relenting tone of scribble, “Since I am here, I’ve often wondered what you really look like behind that eskimo bear,” and I would say, “Well, as you see… there’s no eskimo bear! It’s upstairs, just sleeping.”
“Oh,” you would say, and “I guess you don’t look like an eskimo bear.”
And I would say, “You don’t look how I imagined, either.”
“What, doesn’t my picture look like me?”
“Noooooo…. you look…. more real.”
After another silence, you would say, “Don’t you think that eskimo bear photo is a bit outdated? You’ve had it since you first began blogging in 2005 or whenever. Now it looks kind of soft and old.”
I would start having a panic attack at the thought of just how old the bear is, the camera it was photographed with and the blog, and you hastily say, “Don’t worry! It’s all good.”
“OK,” I’d say. “Let me just get my iPad. Where did you say you lived again? I’ll look up the train times. Where?? OK… PLANE times. Oh, and take the bear with you, just as a souvenir. I feel the need for a brand new profile picture…”
The place is littered with bits of paper, old envelopes folded over, small notepads, even postit notes… these are what we write to each other on.
Today is Halloween. Without even thinking, I was wearing a loose black skirt decorated with beads. Kind of witchy. Mum came home from somewhere, and made me turn round. She plucked a yellow postit note off my skirt — it said, ‘The eve of all hallows.’
Thanks for the memo….
Hail Fellow Ill Met
A few weeks ago:
When we were going home on the bus, I was writing a message to Mum on our conversation notepad. An elderly man got on the bus and stood for a while, tucking his ticket away. I felt his eyes on me and looked up, and smiled. Then I went back to the message I was writing. Mum jerked her head towards him suddenly, and gestured apologetically, with a half-turn of her head towards me. I could imagine her saying, “I’m sorry, she can’t hear you.” He sat down across from us, where I couldn’t see him, and for the rest of the journey they talked politely, their voices lost in the roar of the bus. After a while I put my conversation notepad away, my message unread.
When we reached our stop and Mum moved towards the exit, I glanced at the man, intending to say goodbye. But he sat with his head turned away, so I said nothing. I didn’t ask Mum who he was or what they were talking about, and she didn’t mention him… he was just a passing ship.
Two days ago:
We were walking in single file along a narrow footpath, when we came across a bearded man on a ladder who was preparing to trim a hedge. He and Mum exchanged jolly-sounding greetings. Powered by her presence, I breezed past in my turn with a cheery smile. But I thought about how, on my own, I would either not look at him, or would raise my hand in a polite salute.
A little way further along, when we came onto the road, another man stood nearby. Again he and Mum made friendly noises. “People are so kind!” said Mum, as we passed on.
We went into Costa’s for coffee, but it was quite busy. All that was left for us was a small round table for two, wedged between a lady in the corner (reading a newspaper) and two gossiping boys. The woman looked up and smiled, and she and Mum talked for a little… I wondered if they knew each other. Then the lady went back to her newspaper, and Mum and I wrote to each other in our conversation notepad.
“It’s hotter than I thought,” said Mum. “Have you noticed that the students get younger every year?”
“I never looked,” I said.
Mum rolled her eyes good-naturedly, while I thought about the old man on the bus, along with years and years of students passing me by, unseen.
After a while I said, “You know why I don’t look at people? I don’t want them to think they can speak to me just because I smiled.”
Mum laughed and shook her head at me. “They don’t always — and don’t smile,” she said. “Just observe.”
A small mystery cleared up:
When we left, the woman reading the newspaper didn’t speak to us again — she was a stranger after all. But Mum later volunteered the information that she’d told us (when we came in looking for somewhere to sit) she’d been watching a single student taking up a table meant for four.
Oh, I so know the feeling! Especially when we are meeting my sister, and the three of us have to huddle (with two shopping trolleys) round a tiny table for two, while a skinny kid stretches out blissfully in a tasty piece of café ‘real estate’… and stays there forever.
Lady next to us — I share your frustration.
I doubt it very much. 🙂 Seems like a waste of food. I suppose it’s always possible, if I was angry enough (or had some other reason).
That was the latest WordPress ‘post a week 2011’ prompt, if you were wondering.
It makes me wonder though… there are so many things I wouldn’t normally dream of doing, that other people have done or do regularly! Impulsively, as children, or without even thinking. I’m a goody two-shoes, maybe, but I don’t know why that’s such a bad thing…
I haven’t been on the computer a lot lately; it seemed so dark and cold at the back of this room. For several days I didn’t even turn the computers on.
Suddenly thought of science fiction shows… Star Trek, Stargate or Babylon 5. People sitting in dark shadows with glowing computer screens. Communicating with each other, or doing painstaking research. A lot of the light on my face and hands is from this screen… spooky, strange. Anything could happen… somebody invisible could be swooping around the room! Maybe my messages are being intercepted by some starship full of aliens. And with a whoosh, a portal will open in the wall, and when I look through, there’s a raging snow storm in another world.
Instead, it’s just shadowy and gloomy, and I type in the glow of
Excuse me, I’m not kidding. I got that far, and there was a ‘boing’ and a thud, and cold air… somebody standing behind my chair. I twisted round, and it was Mum, scowling crossly and holding a notepad. (I didn’t hear her come in because, no hearing aids!) I felt stupid about this message I was typing, so I chivvied her out into the hall saying I didn’t have a pen (I didn’t. They disappear). But I found a pen in my bedroom, the one I write my personal journal with at night.
The ‘alien’ wrote down: “Fancy having a gigantic desk and no pencil! If you are up early tomorrow we can go to Morrisons.”
I can’t wait.
Found some of our recent ‘conversation notes’ which were waiting to go into the recycling bin:
Mum: A little baby tomato has been born!
Me: Tell the little baby tomatoes they don’t have much Summer left.
Mum: Better play some music to them.
Me: I saw someone in town carrying his SLR camera by the strap so that it dangled by his walking feet as he crossed the road. I can’t imagine being so casual with my cameras!
Me: I think the wallpaper site has a split personality — the ones who post pics and have fun (rather be kind than right) — and the ones who want more serious pictures with people saying “I would have cropped in closer and paid more attention to the rule of thirds.”
Mum: “What weird people.”
Me: “They’ve been to photography classes… they’ve been taught all that stuff.”
Mum: “Oh I see.”
Mum (looking misty): I played with Justin Rose once when he was a boy — perhaps 14.
Me: He still looks like a boy.
Me: I can’t stand cognitive behavioural therapy — and they’ve roped it into the Calorie Bible. “Are you really ready to do it? Have you thought about the implications of your decision?” Bleugh.
Mum: Serves you right for reading all the small print.
We often shuttle handwritten notes back and forth when the TV is blaring or I don’t have my hearing aids on. But it can be disappointing at times! After a bit of silence, Mum will reach for the nearest notepad and start writing, and I sit in anticipation, wondering what it’s going to be. For instance, we cut in on a bit of TV about the landscapes of Constable (the views he used can still be found). So, what was it that came to Mum’s mind? Did she have something to say about art? Perhaps she had a view on the way Constable painted trees?
When the note finally came across to me, it said:
“When R. and I went to Suffolk we went on a trip to see Flatford Mill but the bus driver got lost so we never got there.”
It’s hard to concentrate when one is cold. We saw a snipe standing on our lawn in the snow today. It was just standing there, its long thin beak pointed towards the kitchen window. Mum telephoned the neighbours, who rushed to their windows and gawked at it, and eventually it went away. We lead an exciting life around here.
Latest crop of shredded notes:
Figured out I’m getting less per month than I got from the office ten years ago. Except when the tenants have their beaks open… then it’s a good bit less.
I wonder if the tenants hear judderings in the night. But pink bedroom cold unless they have heater in there.
Mum: How much do you remember of African landscapes?
Me: Funny stunted trees, dusty roads, banana plantations, sand and grass mixed at beach. Sword grass in towns.
Mum: Acacia. Do you remember a poinsettia tree outside the Fort Hall house?
Me: No — I remember a sandpit.
Me: Sun’s out — it might thaw a bit.
Mum: There was a car skidding about outside.
Me (while we watched Merlin): Arthur is always out cold at the interesting bits. Dragon mustn’t attack Camelot, but may go and harry Ealdor etc?
Christmas… I’ve never known it to be so slow in coming.
Bought a scanner cable to replace our missing one… now scratching round for things to scan! I can scan some of our more doodly notes to this blog.
(For anyone who can’t see the scanned note, it says: “You know those tall giraffe figures in the cafe — it struck me they are as much about the shadows they cast as anything else.” Accompanied by rough scribble of very stretched-out giraffes).