Thursday, 5 January 2012


It's a bit too hot for climbing up the mountain at the moment and so I am swimming for an hour each day instead, an activity I enjoy far more, partly because, for some reason, I don't feel any compunction about listening to the radio while swimming, whereas, although I don't know why, I refuse to allow myself any audio entertainment while trudging uphill. Maybe I concede myself this pleasure when swimming because I am so amazed it's possible - to be able to listen to MP3s underwater is so miraculous and I am so lucky to be living in an age when it can be done that I have a duty to make the most of the opportunity.

Anyway, as I have been listening to the radio and not climbing up the mountain, I haven't been hearing the snatches of conversation of those passing me in the opposite direction that are about the only thing that provides any respite from the tramp tramp tramp of my weary feet. I miss them and I think when I do go back to the mountain I will start to collect the best ones and post them here, so that aspirant writers, unable to get themselves started, will be able to pick up one or other sentence and use it as a hook on which to hang a whole new work of fiction.

The ones I did pick up before the advent of proper summer weather seemed to be dominated by talk about job applications - 'They said I didn't have the right skillset', 'They only told me too late that I needed three referees, not two', 'I didn't realise when I applied that you had to stay on the ship the whole time' - but there were a few that offered possibilities to anyone with a speculative turn of thought. Here are the ones that I thought had the most promise:

"It's just habit though, isn't it? It's always just habit."

"My parents loved India. Well, mum did anyway."

"I don't think I should have asked him now."

"I really wish I'd never bought those little red boots."


  1. About 15 years ago, during one of the Clinton administrations, we were walking along 15th St. NW about opposite the Treasury, when we passed two women, and heard a snippet of conversation:

    w1: ... Well, anyway, that's what Bill says.
    w2. What does Hillary say?

    My wife suggested that perhaps they were actresses, hired by the local business-improvement district.

  2. On a college campus where I was a graduate student 18 years ago, I was walking past two pretty, primping, well-coifed sorority girls engaged in a very deep conversation. I don't recall what they were discussing, but one of the girls expressed disbelief about something, to which her companion replied: "No, it's totally true! I would know: I have a photogenic memory."

  3. i'll take those little red boots off her hands

  4. Two young women across from me in a restaurant one night: "I mean, it's like ever since then, I have had this stigmata on me."

  5. George - sadly, too much of their story has not been left purely to our imagination.
    Jeff - I suppose at least, from what you say, the speaker was in the proper sense photogenic, even though clearly fairly dim
    Nurse - you've just proved my earlier point (in some other comment) about Canberra shoes
    Chris - I think we have the makings here of a new film that would be some kind of amalgam of Whistle Down the Wind and Ken Russell's The Devils. Now for the financing.
    Smiler - for some reason I always think that should be splet S-T-R-A-N-G-E-L-O-V-E