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Saturday, 27 August 2011

The mystery of strangers

It is a source of deep regret that I have now reached an age that leaves me no time to sample every whisky in the world. To try would hasten my inevitable demise and I can find no way round this particular Catch 22. But there is another, deeper regret. Even in a lifetime it is impossible to know everyone that you might like to know. And this has its own ‘Catch 22’. It’s not something you’re likely to think about as a teenager. Whisky, maybe, sex yes, but not people.

I was on the train to Gerard’s Cross when an elegant, middle-aged lady sat next to me. She wore Rive Gauche and her voice was low and attractive when she asked whether the seat next to me was taken. Immediately I wanted to know more about her, and I wondered why that was.

What made her different from anyone else who might have chosen to sit next to me and who I might not have given a second thought? Okay, the perfume, the low attractive voice but it wasn’t just that.

From early on I’ve always been attracted by a person, more so than his or her body. Probably true of most people. A person can crackle with energy or exude something more subtle, glimpsed in a smile, a glint in the eye, voice, and that something hard to define so I’ll call it a life-force or soul.

A soul you intuit and you want to know more. A bee has no inhibitions nosing from flower to flower. Pollen, though indispensable, is more mundane than the soul, but nevertheless the bee devotes a life in its pursuit. We have more important things to do.

And yes, pollen is food but we are spiritual creatures. What is it that prevents us from exploring others?

Selfishness?

Inhibition?

Alcohol loosens the tongue, opens doors and closes them. Have sympathy with the overtures of drunks. For a moment in time they are wanting to know. Inhibition removed, they’re responding to the same urge that made me want to know more about that woman on the train.

A writer – okay, a nosy bugger - stares out the window at a darkening Buckinghamshire countryside and imagines who the woman is, where she is going, where she has come from. He will never know, and he will never know all he’d like to know, or drink all the whisky in the world.

4 comments:

Maria Zannini said...

Ah, but would you have wanted to know more about her if she smelled of cat piss and half her teeth were gone?

We're lured in by provocative perfume and dulcet voices. But we prefer to study less savory people from a safe distance.

Mike Keyton said...

Texan cynicism. Love it. But in the universe there're red dwarfs, and dead planets, not to mention Dark Matter. But we search for life and avoid the noxious.

Anyway, I don't wear provocative perfume and speak in dulcet tones, but I'm reasonably attractive to the short sighted.

Misha said...

Hehehehe I know exactly what you mean. I have a guy like that in my economics class.

This is somewhat problematic, because he intrigues the writer in my much more than competition policy intrigues my almost dead inner economist. :-/

Mike Keyton said...

A guy like what, Misha? A watcher, one you find intriguing, or one smelling of cat piss and dentally challenged? I hope it's the second and he enlivens economics. A tall order :)