Yesterday I drove into the village, to visit the Post Office in order to mail a couple of parcels. Yesterday was Monday.
Monday morning is not recommended in our PO. Monday is Pension Day, and the place is filled with queuing seniors, complaining about how cold it is, or how hot it is, or how wet it is, or how expensive everything is now, or about the ridiculous time they have to spend queuing for their pension each week, listening to all this moaning.
Thus I did the smart thing, and went in the afternoon. The Post Office was pretty much deserted. I was vaguely aware that there was one person being served already, and I was next in the queue. As usual, I went into a sort of dream, half watching the TV screen in the corner, which shows ads for a local restaurant which closed last year, and promotes a foreign-currency exchange deal the Post Office was running a while ago – probably last year, in fact. You know the type of thing. I rely on public information services like this to keep me on the ball.
Then it was my turn, and the previous customer – a young woman with two very small children – came past me with a pushchair, conversing loudly with someone else whom I had obviously not seen, so I stood aside to allow her companion to pass. There was no companion. This lady was involved in a remarkably voluble conversation with her children, though she was not, in fact, looking at them. She had with her a little girl toddler – maybe 15 months (I’m not good at this stuff) – who clung to the handle of the pushchair, and an infant of just a few months in the chair itself. The little girl was muttering incoherent monosyllables, which had no apparent place in the conversation, and the younger child’s repertoire was probably limited to vomiting and crying, not much else.
One doesn’t like to gawp at the afflicted, so I got about my business, while the mother was engaging the kids with an explanation of how Mummy would have to go to the organic delicatessen, since their vegetables were so much nicer than Tesco’s, and they had soya milk. I could still hear her after the door closed behind her. I exchanged a quick glance with Amir, the postmaster, but Amir is a gentleman, and he merely rolled his eyes upwards very slightly. You would have to know Amir to detect it.
My business was simple and quick, and I left the Post Office to find that I was directly behind the mother and kids in the street. She had a triangular rucksack on her back – as many organic vegetable eaters seem to carry, I find – it may be an item of official issue, though it might also have to do with the need to cart around everything required to ensure their kids are protected from the toxic world of fluoridated water and environmentally-hostile detergents in which the rest of us have to struggle.
Since we are now into the holiday period, and our village is a seaside resort, I had parked my car about half a mile up the High Street, and I now found myself heading in the same direction as Mummy and the kiddies. She was deafening, and still she went on – and still her monologue seemed somehow to be directed at everyone around. I crossed the street to get away, and strode past them, but I could hear every word. I don’t like to find that I am irritated by things like this – it provides more unwelcome evidence that I am an antisocial old hermit – but I was definitely nettled. Maybe it is my upbringing, maybe it’s the generation I come from, maybe it’s something more instinctive and older than that, but there is a certain hectoring tone of female voice which just oppresses men, I think. It is probably designed specially, through years of research, using audio spectrometers and electrodes on volunteers’ scalps. It is found among schoolteachers, librarians, council employees, committee chairpersons and, frequently, young mothers with more education than they require for the job. As an aside, I might mention that, in her day, Mrs Thatcher on the radio could trigger the same response. I must hold several world standing-jump records from my attempts to switch her off before the third word came out. That, of course, was when I was in my jumping prime.
Back to the High Street…
“Oh look,” roared Mummy, “we are going near Daddy’s office, aren’t we? Daddy’s got such a lovely new office, hasn’t he?”
“Bubbubawama,” said the daughter.
“Yes, of course he has,” thought every passer-by within 100 yards.
By the time she reached the Golfer’s Rest, an inn, I was well ahead, but she was still in full flow.
“Oh, look at all the men standing outside the pub with their filthy cigarettes – how horrible – they will all become sick, won’t they?” This easily loud enough to carry to the little group outside the pub.
I couldn’t hear what the daughter said this time, but I’m sure it was profound.
|Yes, yes - quite so, but could you do it quietly, please, and give us all a break?|
I was delighted to reach my car, and drove home with the music turned away up – yesterday it was Ray Charles.
All right then. What is wrong with this picture? This young lady obviously has the very best of intentions, and we know it is important to speak to little children, since that is how they learn about the world. We may debate this particular Mummy’s views, but why would little children need to be taught that it is acceptable to address one’s opinions and life-values in a pompous, self-important manner so that everyone within sight can hear them? Just whose benefit is this little show for? The kids? The passers-by? Mummy herself?
I really don’t like to be a grumpy old sod, and I’d prefer not to pass unqualified judgements on people I don’t even know, but what is all this about?
Opinions, please, on a used £10 note to the usual box number at Chateau Foy.