Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s lost plectrum is the one eventually found between pages 224 and 225 of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
It’s funny when you have several things, random ones, that come together to form a little scene, a scene in one’s life. The ‘things’ don’t need to be spectacular or even memorable – it’s just that at the time you think, Now then, this is all a bit odd!…
Here is one of these that came together for me earlier this afternoon; I’m sure that if I wasn’t bothering to write all this down now, here in the cafe, an hour or two after the events, the memories would quickly evaporate away and be completely forgotten.
So, dear reader, here we go…
I was on a bus. a seat near the back, it was a single-decker bus, it was about three-quarters full of people and there was a general hubbub of conversation bouncing around the saloon. (I think ‘saloon’ is the correct term.) I wondered if I should put my noise-cancelling headphones on and listen to some music, but the hubbub wasn’t really that annoying so I didn’t bother.
Then, a woman, sitting behind me on the back seat, suddenly launched into a series of phone calls. I never saw her, but she sounded to me as if she was in her early twenties, but what do I know? She seemed to be reporting some recent events in her life to a series of her contacts. She was, shall we say loud, or even strident, and cared not for the generally accepted conventions of public or private conversation. Several of the other passengers turned in their seats to have a look at her; not me though, I was a bit too close to her for that. I took out my little notebook and pen just in case there might be something dramatic worth jotting down for a future blog post. (This very thing you are now reading dear reader!)
‘No, no, I bloody didn’t…’
‘They had a warrant out for my fucking arrest.’
‘Ray… I thought me and you were…’
‘And he turned up in court!’
‘No, no chance!’
‘Real bad! Massive, massive!’
‘He had to get his fucking head stitched… I fucking know!’
I stopped jotting at this point and put my headphones on. The randomly selected track that came up was a piece of ancient Japanese court music; slow, with flying high-pitched flutes, rich twangs, and drums randomly going boing! I do actually like this sort of thing, I find it very calming. But you can imagine the sharp contrast with the (now slightly muffled) lass still banging on behind me.
As the bus was slowing and about to arrive at a bus stop, I looked out of the window and noticed on the opposite side of the road, a woman talking on her phone whilst pushing a pushchair with a child in it, she was also accompanied by a small girl who was having trouble wheeling a little pink scooter. To my surprise the woman suddenly shoved the pushchair out into the busy road, causing a learner driver in a green car to slam his/her brakes on. The pushchair lady then pulled back sharply, and then, seeing the car had stopped, sauntered across the road in front of it, waving scooter-girl to follow her. They proceeded across in front of our bus, turned, and then got on it; they set up camp at the front near the driver. We set off again…
So, there I was, sitting cross-legged on a cushion, on a highly polished hardwood floor, in the Emperor’s Palace, listening to the lovely wailing flutes, the koto being nicely twanged, and the drums tapping away, but with an added shrill young miscreant ranting on about the British judicial system and her rocky relationship with someone called Ray.
Yes, all seemed reasonably well with the world – but then, the aforementioned scooter-girl at the front took out a large plastic squeaky toy and started repeatedly pressing and releasing it – it made a surprisingly loud and piercing noise on both inward and outward thrusts. Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! it went… The squeaks took no notice at all of my headphone’s clever noise-cancelling feature.
How’s that, dear reader, for a small, but colourful window into my life?…