Thursday, 5 January 2012

Howling gales

Wind rattled our bedroom windows throughout the night. There was a proper gale battering London. For a while I insisted on the windows remaining open. The hollow moan of a gale is always so haunting and beautiful, especially when one is warm and tucked up in bed. The curtains were billowing like a sheet on a washing line. But all good things come to an end. An enormous gust of wind frightened the life out of me just as I was drifting off to sleep, so I decided it was best all round if the window was closed again, much to Nathan's great relief.
I battled my way through the driving rain this morning to get to the cafe. On my way I noticed about four discarded umbrellas, broken and shivering miserably in various gutters and dustbins.

I worked opposite two young Mums, both of whom, I quickly deduced, were actresses. I soon realised that the definition of self-obsession is an out of work actress with a baby on her lap. The two women talked almost exclusively about motherhood; competing with one another about methods of child-rearing. They pulled all the right faces, but weren’t listening to each other, unless there was some kind of compliment floating about. There was a particularly unpleasant moment when both women started to wonder if their babies were actually the most beautiful babies on the planet. At one point they started comparing them to great actresses. The one that looked like road kill apparently resembled Elizabeth Taylor, and the one that looked like a pile of insulation foam had the eyes of Angelina Jolie, or so her mother believed. Periodically they’d break off the baby talk to discuss work, and the plays that they were auditioning for, but this conversation would immediately return to babies; “if you get the role, you’ll have to start expressing milk...” They both laughed like hyenas. I wasn’t sure what was so hysterical about expressing milk. Perhaps they were laughing at the concept of getting a job. One of them had a face like a laminated gala melon. The other looked like pork in a wig. They’d break off periodically to see if anyone in the room was admiring their baby.

I went to the gym this afternoon and overheard a rather amusing conversation in the changing room:

BLOKE ONE: (to mate) You’ve got fat. You’re fat.
BLOKE TWO: I know. It all came on over Christmas.
BLOKE ONE: (prodding his mate’s spare tyre) What? All that? What did you eat? Your mother-in-law?

BLOKE TWO: Ha ha! Funny. You saw me before Christmas. I had a six pack.
BLOKE ONE: No mate. You had a Lurpak!

350 years ago and Elizabeth Pepys wasn’t well, so her husband went alone to church. He returned to the house for lunch and started to eat a piece of fine roast beef, but didn’t want to eat it on his own. His brother, Tom, called in, to say that he’d been to visit the parents of a girl that there was talk of his marrying. Said parents could only afford a dowry of 200l per year, which Pepys felt was a paltry sum –and one that should be passed over in the hope of finding something better. He was a fine one to talk; Elizabeth came with no dowry at all. In the evening he went back to church, and was horrified to hear a psalm, with a perfectly good tune, being sung to the tune of another psalm. He described the experience as ridiculous; probably how I felt on Christmas Eve when I was expected to sing “updated” lyrics to O Come All Ye Faithful. I sang the original very loudly indeed!

1 comment:

  1. *snorts with laughter* brilliant post Benjamin, made me howl. I only hope that I'm not like those women. Brilliant observations.

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