Who did you speak to today?

My Mum could talk to anyone. I’m not saying she would have great debates about the state of the nation but Mum could strike up a conversation just passing the time of day.

When I was out shopping with her, this would occasionally annoy me. Many times I complained to Mum about telling her life story or even worse, mine, to a casual acquaintance or a stranger in a queue.

Mum was happy to share snippets about those she was proud of; her kids and grand-kids, especially her grand-kids.

My art of conversation is limited, I’m not a great talker. However I’ve found in the past few weeks that I too will talk to anyone. This may stem from the fact that I’m not working and full blown conversations with people are now a rare occurrence.

During my camping trip I spoke to many of my fellow campers on a wide range of camping related subjects; roads, windy roads, how to drive a caravan down windy roads, cows and how fast they can run, the weather! and the merits of various campsites.

I struck up conversations with the ladies manning the desks at:

  • the Boscastle Witchcraft Museum – who told me about the day the flood hit
  • the Marazion Museum – who I asked about the pronunciation of the towns name
  • the shop of St Michaels Mount – who told me about the ‘best cream tea in Cornwall’

None of these are Earth shattering conversations, but I normally don’t talk and definitely don’t ask questions.

Just this week I had a long and interesting conversation which went on for about 40 minutes with a farmer at the Royal Welsh Show. I had been looking around the sheep shed and walked out to see what was happening in the sheep ring. A round of judging was just starting and having no idea what they were looking for, I asked the farmer that question.

He explained about the judging, the varieties of sheep, and eventually gave me his life story. Which was very colourful; including Army service in South Africa, and a stint in the Rhodesian Police. He asked what I did, and I explained that I was currently in between careers, and was looking at a new direction possibly in Youth Work. I’m usually a bit hesitant to say that; I still worry that people will think I’m a kiddy-fiddler! He was all for it, and had some good views on how to treat young people.

As he was an older man, I expected him to say ‘bloody kids’ but no, he was sympathetic to the youngsters of 2012, “they need to be challenged”, he was a church going man as he made several references to the Bible; including “the Devil makes work for idle hands”. I was impressed with him and glad I spoke to him.

Just yesterday at the Olympic football in Cardiff, I chatted briefly with two fans from Algeria. My seat happened to be quite close to the tunnel where the players enter the stadium, so I stood there a while with lots of other fans all waiting for the players to come though. The teams playing were Brazil & Egypt; the players from Brazil are all mostly familiar to me, those from Egypt much less so. So when these particular fans got a little excited by who was coming past we had a chat, in very slow broken English as to who was coming passed.

As I said nothing ground breaking here, and I’m sure some of you reading this will be wondering what on earth I’m on about. But if like me, you don’t talk to random strangers when your paths cross, perhaps you should make a change.

One thought on “Who did you speak to today?

  1. Probably one of your best bits of writing. But you probably haven’t realised how much you making the effort to talk to and find out about other people have made them feel. I bet that farmer and those footie fans had a nice warm fuzzy feeling that someone bothered to talk to and listen to them. People don’t talk enough these days – and certainly don’t listen. We text and email and have Kindle’s and Ipods when we are in public places as a barrier to conversation. Your mother would be proud of you.

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