It all started with a conversation and then, well, actions speak louder than words.RDP $Wedneaday: Conversation
In 1959, at the age of 13, mum asked what I wanted for Christmas. I had ideas of being famous and so I wished for a five year diary. I wanted to preserve my life to be read in future times. I could see the historians studying my entries and completing the missing pages of life in the 20th centuary.
“I had a small book once, it was green: a five year diary. I remember it was somewhere on the bookshelves.”
Mr. Swiss looked a bit blank, he was reading and I was disurbing with my question. However, he is always ready to help.
“I remember something like it, but it was a bit shabby and old and probably disappeared.”
My gaze remained in the place where I last saw it and then alighted on the green thin back of a book. I pulled it out and saw the magic words, in gold, telling me it was my Five Year Diary. Mr. Swiss was surprised at my discovery. I just had not looked at it for the past 20-30 years and so it was still resting on the shelf waiting to be discovered.
On each page there is room for five different entries, each one to be marked with a year showing 19……, so you fill in the year number. I decided that this diary could no longer be used or revived as our years now begin with 20……. The date was in print at the top of the page. Of course I had made entnries in this diary fom 1st January 1959 until 12th September 1959, so I did persevere. Today we have 1st Janurary 2018 and I have still not achieved fame and success with my entries. Samuel Pepys had more success than I did and his diaries from 18th centuary London are still read today, at least they still exist.
And now it is time to discover my famous words again from my exciting life in 1959.
The first words on 1st Janury 1959 “Went to see if my records were in, but they wasn’t. Heard the next year in. The sweep came and swept the front room chimney. Went to bed.” Note the perfect use of english grammar. This was my first attempt at blogging.
As you can see life was full of excitement in January 1959. We had a chimney sweep? How Victorian can you get. I remember having chimneys but I though dad blocked them all up at some time as we were forced by the government clean air bill to switch to gas or electric fires. Mum was glad as making the fire every morning in Winter was an annoying job. First of all the remains of yesterday’s newspaper, then a layer of wood and on top coal. The coal was delivered into our bunker in the garden once a month by the coalmen. They would carry the heavy sacks on their backs and with a very clever movement the coal was tipped into the top of the bunker.
I am digressing, life in a house built in 1884 in Bethnal Green in 1959 was full of excitement. My next entry on 2nd January cleared the mystery of the record: “Record has been deleated so I bought a Lonnie Donnegan E.P. Had my hair washed but not ….. up (illegible handwriting). Went to bed.” I still do not remember which record had been deleted, but Lonnie Donnegan was always a good chice.
Yes again I disappeared to my bed in the evening. These were exciting days, never to be forgotten. And so the life of Angloswiss continues until the last entry. “Got up at twelve o’clock (midday), listened to Saturday Club on the wireless. Did piano practice. WTB.” By this time my writing skill was no longer competing with Samuel Pepys and “Went to Bed” had been abbreviated. There still remains 4 years and 3 months missing. perhaps I might continue, but today I have a computer, an iPad and iPhone so it has all become superfluous.
It turns out that your neighbour on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?
Huh! My neighbour is a chatty tourist, never. When they let me out I make the most of it. Once a year I visit dad in London and take a plane from Zürich to London and return. This has been repeating itself for many years and many are the victims that have had to sit next to me. I must have been bored waiting for my next seat neighbour when I took this picture in 2009. I did not start a conversation with the bloke in front, I did not even know he was on the photo, honest. Usually they give me a seat next to the window, noticing that I have a camera somewhere hanging on my wrist or perhaps even around my neck. Camera people need a window seat so they can take the unforgettable photos of the space between the plane and the ground. Mostly it is just clouds, but by take-off and landing you can capture quite a few good views.
Cameras can engage you in conversations, but sometimes not so friendly. I remember when I was on the return trip to Zürich and a young lady was sitting next to me. I had already classified her as being unfriendly, as she made no attempt to engage me in an interesting conversation. I believe she was one of our colonialists from the States. I was approaching my fifth or sixth camera shot from the plane and she turned to me. I thought “at last a chatty conversation with an American colonialist”, but no she said “Do you mind not clicking your camera all the time to take photos, it is annoying me”. I was speechless, put my camera demonstrative in my handbag and ignored the fact that she was sitting next to me. There can be up to hundred passengers on a plane (it was a mini plane) and they sit me next to someone that has a camera phobia. Perhaps she was annoyed that I was given the window seat and she was the “pickle in the middle”.
There have been other positive journeys. The best that happened was when I was seated next to a Swiss lady that was married to an Englishman and was returning home after visiting her family in Switzerland. Her mother was seriously ill in Switzerland. I was travelling to England, an English lady married to a Swiss, visiting my dad in England. I remember the journey well as it was when my mother had died and I was going over for the funeral. Not a very good start to a journey, however, the lady and I discovered we had a lot in common. We mainly spoke in Swiss German, with some English in between and were swopping experiences of life in Switzerland and in England . We were so engaged in conversation that the air hostess collected our empty coffee cups as the plane was diving for a landing. My dad and her husband met us at London Airport.
The seat neighbours on these trips are all part of the fun. I do not really care if they are chatty and generally they do not have a big chance of getting chatty with me as what they can chat, I can chat better. There was a computer technician on the way to London City Airport: poor man, it was when I had just finished my web assistant course and was in the blogging way of life. I had a lot of questions about computers, html, css and all that stuff. He did his best to help. The last I saw of him was when he was almost running down the boarding stairs from the plane and darting through the arrival lounge at the airport. Did he want to get away from me?
The boring neighbours are those coming from strange countries, especially if they are in groups. I love a good conversation, you can always learn something from other countries, but an hour sitting next to an Indonesian who spoke English like an Indonesian was a strain. The Arab was more interesting, but spent the first ten minutes telling me that they did not want to let him on the plane, I think it was something to do with suspicious luggage. However, he was happy to be there and I spent the hour’s flight hoping that I would arrive in one piece.
My last flight to London was almost boring. I had a window seat and the plane was half empty. The food used to compensate for no talking neighbours. It would at least keep my mouth busy. Due to cutting costs on the flight ticket, today all you get is some sort of strange bread roll with an indefinable filling and a small bar of Swiss chocolate. Even the coffee is not as it was, so I just have a plastic cup of plain water to wash it all down.
The return flight was better. I notice people do not really know how to classify me. Is she English or Swiss? Even the flight attendants are confused. We were approaching London and a passenger suddenly sat next to me and began a conversation about London in English. I asked if she was Swiss and she confirmed saying that she was living and working in London. I automatically switched to Swiss German when we were flying over the Olympic buildings from the last Olympics in London. This area is interesting for me as it is where I grew up. I gave the young lady a guided tour of the area from the air. She did not flee when we landed, and I think she was quite happy.
Mr. Swiss and I once did a flight to New York. That was seven hours, but boring. I can talk to Mr. Swiss at home and thus he is not such an interesting conversation partner on a plane. At least they showed a Tom Cruise Film, The Firm, which kept me quiet for a couple of hours. We were given business class thanks to Mr. Swiss. It was in the good old days when you were allowed to smoke on a plane and they had no smoking seats left in the low life seats, so they put us in business class. We got real plates made of china and the wine was served in real glass. It compensated for my boring seat neighbour that had nothing new to add to the conversation. On the return flight it was a different thing altogether. We flew through the night with the low life; everything plastic, hot and sweaty. I was glad when we landed in Zürich.
Now that was a chatty blog wasn’t it. I wonder what my neighbours over on the next blog are telling us. We are all sitting at our computers and chatting away with ourselves, and sharing our conversations with each other, so see you all on the flip side.
Write a post that includes dialogue between two people — other than you. (For more of a challenge, try three or more people.)
Photographers, artists, poets: show us a GROUP.
Please excuse me, but this is an old post of mine, wrote some time in 2009. My grandmother was born around 1875 and was the daughter of a family of farm labourers. Not just any old farm, she was born and grew up at Castle Sissinghurst at the so-called priest’s house in the South of England. I inherited a few photos and this was one and so I wrote a little piece about how the photo mght have originated.
“Mrs. Relf we are only have our photo done, not going to see the queen.“
“What is that supposed to mean Jed Gurr. I have put my best hat on for this photo. Not everyday that Mr. Stickells calls to us in the fields to make one of those pictures. You can talk, trimming your beard would have been a good idea. I won’t be having you standing next to me in the picture.”
“Don’t worry Mrs. Relf, I will be at the back in any case. I don’t know why the likes of me have to be there. I’ve got work to do. This picture thing is not going to pick any hops for us is it?.”
“Well, look at that here comes Mrs. Edwards with her best hat on as well.” And Jed Gurr gave Mrs. Edwards a glance of amusement.
“Good morning Frieda” said Mrs. Relf “
“Morning Agnes” answered Frieda Edwards “Lovely day for a photo.”. She turned to her son that was walking alongside of his mother. “Reuben stop running around in that mud, you are going to make your shoes dirty.”
“Come on mum, Mr. Stickells won’t be taking any of those pictures of my feet. It is going to be my face that he is interested in.”
“Well that’s true” said his mother “So did we wash our ears this morning and what’s that grubby mark on your face. Been eating the squire’s raspberries again.?”
“Oh, leave him Frieda” said Agnes Relf “nothing that a bit of spit and a wipe of the pinafore won’t clean off.”
So Frieda Edwards decided Agnes was right and went to work on Reuben’s face. It was clean afterwards but Reuben was not very happy.
“Ow, mum that hurt, didn’t have to rub like that.”
“Well at least you are clean now. What about you Jed Gurr, you could have at least trimmed your beard.”
“Oh, leave him Frieda. He reckons he will be at the back of the photo, because he wants to get away quickly to pick some hops. Look who’s coming, more people here now than you see at the church on Sunday morning, Joan Baldock and her son Jason. Morning Joan, morning Jason. Are you joining in on the picture.”
“It was mum’s idea” said Jason “She told me to put on my best hat and jacket for the picture.”
“I would think so too, Jason. It is not every day we have our picture taken. Just imagine me and my son on a picture together, never been done before. Jed Gurr, make sure you stand behind me. I don’t want that scruffy beard of yours down at the front.”
“Now what have you all got against my beard. I combed it special for the picture. I won’t be at the front. All this new fangled stuff about pictures. Who wants to see me anyhow. I’m here to earn money by picking hops.”
“We all know that Jed Gurr. You are the one that drinks most of the beer down in the inn in the evening, so you have to make sure enough hops are picked to be brewed. “ and Agnes Relf gave Jed Gurr a disapproving glance.
“Now what’s going on, having a go at you are they Jed”. The sisters Emily and Isabel Pankhurst arrived on the scene. Both spinsters, but always there when something interesting was going on in the village.
“Nice day to have a picture taken” Emily said and Isabel nodded in agreement.
The Pankhurst sisters always agreed on everything
“Well I must say everyone is looking their best. I told Emily we ought to put on our best hats, you never know who might see the picture one day.” And Emily nodded in approval. She nodded in approval at everything Isabel said. They were not twins, Isabel was the oldest, but only by a year, but that year meant respect when you lived in a small country village.
“Even Reuben has nice bright and shiny face.”
“Well that’s cos me mum spit on her pinafore and rubbed it up.”
“I should think so to Reuben” his mum said “can’t have you with a dirty face on a picture now can we.”
“You are right Frieda Edwards, what would Mr. Stickells say when he arrives.”
“Talking of Mr. Stickells and his picture machine, about time he was here. I have work to do.”
“You and work, Jed Gurr, now that’s new. Thinking more about the time the inn opens up.”
“Oh leave him Agnes, as long as he stands at the back who cares.” And Emily Pankhurst found her sister Isabel was right.
“Look mum” Reuben Edwards was getting excited “Mr. Stickells is coming down the road with his three legged stand and big photo machine. Mrs. Crabb is with him as well.”
“Trust Philadelphia Crabb to want to join in on the picture.” Said Reuben’s mother. “She’s not from this village, but on the other side of the river. Only moved in a couple of years back and already thinks she belongs. “
“Morning ladies and gentlemen” said Mr. Stickells. “So are we already for having our picture made. Now get yourselves nicely organised. As I can see it we are going to make a nice picture. I think we will put the gentleman with the beard at the back in the middle and the ladies forming a row in front. The lady with her son should stand together on the right. Take these flowers in you arm I brought with me as a prop, brightens up the photo a bit, especially with your son standing next to you. Now let’s have the young man at the front on the right. But somethings missing. Can’t have a young lad on his own. Whose the girl standing over there watching.“
“That’s Reuben’s sister” said Frieda Edwards “she has just finished her work in the diary.”
“Well, young lady you come over here, take up a branch of hops like your brother and stand right next to him. Now all we need is that basket in front and I think that will be perfect. The sunlight is just right and the hops are a nice frame to the picture. Ok, everyone don’t breath, stand still, it won’t take long.”
Mr. Stickells put his head under the black cloth on the camera and pressed the button. And this photo is a moment in time in a village somewhere in East Sussex.
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“Do you want a coffee?“
“I mean something to drink”
“A biscuit to go with it”
“Pat, are you listening?”
“Is that all you say?”
“Two sugars please.”
“I was thinking about going out this evening with the boys.”
“I said I WAS THINKING ABOUT GOING OUT THIS EVENING WITH THE BOYS.”
“Don’t shout, I can hear perfectly well.”
“So what do you think?”
“I take that to be an OK. Can you perhaps put that book down for just a couple of minutes?”
“I give up.”
“Ok, where you going?”
“Out for a walk, I don’t want to disturb you reading.”
“I thought he would never go.
Hello, is that you Jack.”
“Yes I was waiting for your telephone all afternoon. Did you manage to get rid of him.”
“No, problem; he is going out with the boys this evening. I would say around eightish at my place. He won’t be back until late.”
“How did you manage to organise that?”
“Just try reading Ulysses by James Joyce when your husband wants to talk to you. You really have to concentrate.”