Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Close Encounters of the Female Kind.

It was that sort of day in Ashbourne. Sophie at the library was the first. I hadn’t seen her for a couple of years, but remembered the conversation I’d had with her.

‘It’s Sophie, isn’t it?’ I asked.

‘It is, yes,’ she replied with a voice teetering on the edge of wonderment.

‘And how’s your singing these days?’ (She’s a folk singer who tours the local circuit.)

‘Oh, you remember me! That’s really nice. Thank you ever so much.’

Now, call me naïve if you like, but I would have thought that remembering a pretty English rose, who happens to be a folk singer and has a lovely personality to boot, would be the easiest thing in the world to remember. But I’ll take the plaudits if you insist.

So then she started telling me about having taken an intense course in teaching English as a foreign language, and how she’s planning to go to Italy next month to start work.

‘Watch those Italian boys,’ I warned. ‘I’ve heard they’re not as respectful to young women as they ought to be.’

‘Somebody else told me that,’ she replied with a subtle hint of ruefulness in her tone that was distinct nevertheless. ‘But I went there for a month recently and nothing like that happened. I’d just split up with my boyfriend, so I was a bit disappointed.’

Well, what does a gentleman say to that? He changes the subject and allows Sophie to talk a little longer, and then says ‘Have to go. I have a time limit on the car.’ It wiled away a pleasant fifteen minutes or so, and I learned that she wants to meet somebody called Federico.

*  *  *

Next up was Marilyn who works in the pet shop where I get my bird food, and who was a bit disappointed that the new knee she’s had fitted is still giving her a lot of pain. I always have time for Marilyn; she’s a good sort with good values and life hasn’t been kind to her at all. We talked about her daughter’s funeral which took place last week, and that’s only a small part of the picture.

*  *  *

And then it was the turn of Natalie from Nice. She lives in the village and I bumped into her outside Sainsbury’s. We talked at length about France, the French, Frenchness, and my moment of glory when I gave a French truck driver directions in French! (But that was a long time ago and I’ve forgotten it all now.) She also told me she’s half Italian, which explained why I always thought she looked more Italian than French, although I didn’t say so. But then she started talking to me in French, so I made a polite but hurried exit in the style of a true English gentleman.

*  *  *

So then, when I was walking back to the car, a little girl came rushing up to me.

‘Look at my shopping,’ she cried triumphantly, holding aloft a Sainsbury’s carrier bag.

‘Is it heavy?’



*  *  *

And now for the sad bit. Did I get to pay my cheque in at Coco’s window? Nope. Somebody else called me first. Sometimes life and luck just aren’t on your side.

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