Thursday, September 23, 2010

I should never go out.

I’ve known this for a long time but I keep telling myself that it won’t be so bad this time.

But it always is.

It seems my capacity for making a fool of myself is boundless.

In Japan there is a caste of Japanese youth called hikikomori - mostly young men - who lock themselves away in their bedrooms.

I think they’ve got the right idea.

It worked for the poet Emily Dickinson too.


I’ve given up taking my camera or sketchpad out with me. On a number of occasions I’ve been accused of working as a Surveyor for the Council as I’ve drawn and photographed local scenes. Usually by suspicious local farmers. One thought I was planning the route of a Motorway across his land … indeed, across the whole valley.

I was just drawing trees.

But even when I go out unarmed and so-not-dangerous, strange things happen that unnerve me for days.

It usually involves me meeting people.


I’m currently living in the area I grew up in and I keep bumping into people I haven’t seen for 30 years or more.

They usually recognise me but I don’t recognise them. Even when they introduce themselves I can rarely remember how, where or when I knew them.

It’s very awkward and embarrassing.

It’s happened again this week. Twice.

The worst one was yesterday.

I was walking down the road when I passed a postman. I knew he was a postman because he was wearing a postman’s uniform. And he had a bright red bicycle. With a big basket on the front. With a sackful of letters in it. Please bear this in mind.

As I walked past he called out …

“Excuse me, are you Peter Birch?”

I hesitated before I turned around. I was honestly thinking of saying “No”.

But I didn’t. Big mistake. Huge.

I asked him who he was and he gave me his name. It rang a bell but I couldn’t place him.

He seemed delighted to see me and chatted away happily for ages, asking me all about myself.

Then there came an awkward silence. I realised I hadn’t been very forthcoming and hadn’t asked him much about himself. Mainly because I was still trying to figure out who he was.

And then these words fell from my mouth.

“So what do you do for a living?”

Boundless, I tell you.

Comments:
Ha! Well done! Great read. And I can tell that you're like me -- changed less than others over the many years between youth and middle age. If only the same could be said about what's between the ears!
 
True, Andrea, so true!
 
so THAT'S where I get it from! I am so not hot on the small talk - something stoopid always slips out doesn't it!
 
yeah ... sorry about that Claire. Fun, though, innit?!
 
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