Out Now!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Earstoday, all my troubles . . .

It had been a hard morning at the gym made worse by my final session on the treadmill. Dylan’s Isis came up on shuffle, which I like. The song takes me on a journey, there are some juicy soundbites, my favourite being: ‘The snow it was outrageous,’ but it doesn’t last long enough. The tune that came up next was Scott Joplin’s The Entertainor – only four and a half minutes but it exhausted me keeping up with the bloody dancing piano.

I was ready for my Waitrose Coffee and banana.

I didn’t know there was worse yet to come.

Part of the ritual is choosing the banana, preferabley large and just touching ripeness. At the counter I’m always greeted with: ‘Your usual, sir?” which makes me feel grand, like I belong to a venerable gentleman’s club somewhere in the vicinity of St James’ Square. Admittedly there are no roaring fires or plush leather chairs, and the illusion lasts a mere second or two, longer if I close my eyes and slop coffee all over the place.

I sat near a window, giving me a view of Monnow Street and the bus station, which, to be honest, is geared more for stagecoaches. The question now was which to to first: peel the banana or open the newspaper.

At that moment, she spoke.

It was Princess Margaret or someone channelling her spirit.

I read somewhere recently that the late Princess had a distinctive diction, pronouncing ‘yes’ as ‘ears’ and ‘no’ as ‘nyah.’ Try it some time. It becomes quite addictive though everyone around you will think you a prick.

Anyway, one of those was sitting behind me, holding forth in voice like a corncrake only louder. In the space of twenty minutes I knew – along with half of Waitrose – her views on Brexit, her eldest child’s schooling—he’s dreadful at maths but he has a very poor teacher, and that she thought the recent tornadoes in the Americas were really quite dreadful. 

I couldn’t understand how she was able to breathe and talk with such speed without the hint of a break. I wondered who she was talking to, and why the hell they didn’t say something, anything—like 'shut up woman'. I risked a casual glance round as though inspecting the air. Her companion was another woman who nodded a lot and occasionally brushed crumbs from her jeans.

Princess Corncrake possessed a toddler neatly encased in a pushchair . Like me, he was approaching the end of his tether and risked a small howl.

“Really, Jasper, that is quite unacceptable!” She threw him a crayon, one of a few she had on the table, and returned to commenting on the weather: ‘perfectly beastly for the coming weekend.’
Jasper, not unreasonably howled louder, which earned another rebuke. “Jasper, that is quite enough!  You really must exercise more social control.” She spoke to him like he was a badly behaved dog, but used bigger words. ‘He can be a little anti-social at times,” she said by way of apology to her friend and the café in general.

When I got home I was asked the usual question. ‘Gym good?’

“Ears,” I said. “Waitrose, Nyah.” I started humming Earstoday and wondered what other songs might be similarly improved 



Maria Zannini said...

I'm sure I sounded no better when I was talking to a young woman at a party. She was from London and I was telling her about you and where you lived. When I tried to say Monmouth, my mouth got twisted and I couldn't get the word out.

I do think British names can be a mouthful even if they only have two syllables.

She laughed and said it's even worse in Welsh. Most likely I shall be a mute if I travel through the UK and simply sign and point my way around.

Mike Keyton said...

I'm intrigued by that London woman, wondering what she was doing in your neck of the woods. It's a very small world. Yes, some English names have some unexpected pronunciations and yes, the Welsh are in a class of thir own. I really do hope you make it over here some day. Great fun anticipated observing your mounting frustration and no doubt amusement.

And God forbid you ever become a mute :)

Maria Zannini said...

It truly is a small world. Apparently the young woman went to university in Texas and became best friends with our hostess. I would've asked her why Texas, but we both got distracted from our conversation and we never hooked up again.