I’ve always been quite a private person. You won’t find much intimate details about my every day life on this blog – partially at least because I’m aware that not even I find it particularly interesting, so it always surprises me how vocal other people can be about the intimate details of their lives when in a public place…and, no matter how hard you try not to, you always end up listening in.
Back before Christmas 2007 I was sitting upstairs on the bus on my way home when I found myself drawn into listening to someone else’s conversation.
You know how it is, two people talking loudly about inane subjects as if they’re the centre of the known universe and, as such, ultimately fascinating for everyone else to hear as well. The experience is somewhat akin to the now obligatory “Hello? I’m on the bus” conversation held on mobile phones, only you get to hear both sides. (NB – it’s amazing to think that in living memory we lived in times where it was possible to get home without calling friends/relatives to tell them we were doing so. Historians in years to come may not believe it, but it was once so)
So there’s this young woman, a University student by the look and sound of her – IE not worn down by years in dull job after dull job and still under the impression that drinking 15 pints of Ridley’s Extra Strong at the weekend is an acceptable pass-time with no health implications. University Woman is talking to her mostly silent friend – mostly silent because she can’t get a word in edgeways. She was the kind of woman who says things like “So I turns to her and said…and she turns to me and says…’ till you don’t know who’s facing which way in the conversation:
‘Oh I remember we lived in this house for a while – one of those old Victorian houses with five floors and we’d all been drinking like all weekend. Gosh (nb – clearly she didn’t actually say Gosh, but I don’t want to offend), we were well and truly bladdered (nb: drunk), I came home and bleurged all over everything – down the toilet, on the doors, in the sink and bathroom. I even bleurged on the carpet’
Why people live under the mistaken belief that a bus load of people want to hear about their intimate vomit experiences I will never know, but her friend – who by now was looking more than a little embarrassed, just nodded quietly and waited for the aliens to come and suck her brains out as a preferable alternative to the conversation
‘So,’ University Woman continued, ‘anyway, I’d been drinking this alcho-pop that was bright purple, and the bleurg was bright purple – it just wouldn’t come off the carpet, no matter what we tried.’ There was a significant pause to highlight the dramatic tension and all-out hilarity of having permanent vomit stains on the carpet before University Woman continued, ‘Of course, they demolished the house in the end.’
Little old me, sitting behind her and not known for thinking before opening my mouth to make a silly comment had to fight every urge in my body in order to stop myself tapping her on the shoulder and saying, ‘Really? That was a bit extreme. Surely a new carpet would have been cheaper?’