Thursday, 30 September 2010

23. Corporate Capers (III). At London Heathrow airport, check-in desk

Check-in Hostess (22):  Are you carrying any metal objects in your cabin baggage?

Jeremy, Company Chairman (58), with a group of customers off to the Continent on a jolly, making sure they can hear him:  Only a Kalashnikov and a couple of hand grenades.

Check-in Hostess (stony):  Sir, will you stand over there please and await instructions.  Security, calling Security.  Strip search required.

(And they did too...)


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

22. Corporate Capers (II). At another haranguing management meeting, Warrington, Cheshire, UK

Jeremy, Company Chairman (58), glowering at Marketing Manager, who’s looking at him half defiantly:  We’ve got to have a stronger presence in the market place, do you follow me?  You’ve got to make sure they think of us first, do you follow me?  I want you ringing the editors of all the farming magazines and insist on being put through to them, do you follow me?  And I want a report on my desk first thing Monday morning, do you follow me?

Marketing Manager (32)(Giggling nervously) Jeremy, blow in my ear I’ll follow you anywhere.*

PS:  His career with this company didn’t prosper either.

*Catchphrase from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in".


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

21. Corporate Capers (I). At a management meeting, hotel in Birmingham, UK

Managing Director, jabbing the air with his finger as he speaks (55):  ... I’m telling you I won’t stand for this, are you with me?  I told him “Do you know who you’re talking to?  I want this sorted.  Now.”  And we’ve got to keep up the pressure, are you with me?  Ring him every day if necessary. (Turning to minute taker)  Have you got that?  Put it in the minutes.  Have you got it all down?  Read it back to me.  (Noting she’s flustered) So come on, what happens next?

Junior Manager and Minute taker, replying without thinking (38):  You get your money back from charm school?

(Claps her hand to her mouth)

PS:  Her career with this company didn’t prosper.


Monday, 27 September 2010

20. At neighbour’s house, Temperley, Buenos Aires, 1960

Little girl (7):  Wachoo doin’?

Heavily pregnant neighbour doing the laundry (25):  I’m busy right now.  Why don’t you go and play outside?

Little girl:  OK.  Can I borrow the football you keep under your apron?

(Sadly, the former child does not remember the expression on the neighbour’s face, or what she replied...)


Sunday, 26 September 2010

19. Naivety of youth (iii). Eastville, Bristol,1976

Walking by the Gasometer ...

Google image of a gasometer in east London.
The Eastville one has long since disappeared

Boy 1 (11):  Bet you didn’t know what this is used for.

Boy 2 (11):  Go on then.

Boy 1:  They store gravy in there.  Then when you need some for your Sunday roast, you ask and it’s piped through to your kitchen, and you just turn on the tap.

Boy 3 (11):  WHAT???  Are you out of your tiny mind?

Boy 2 (scornfully):  You don’t know nothin’.  That’s for gas.  It’s a GASometer, stupid.

Boy 1:  It’s for gravy I tell you, I know cos my Mum and Dad told me years ago and.... (realisation dawning).... maybe it’s for gravy AND gas and..... (tapering off lamely) ..... I guess they got told wrong...

Boy 3:  I guess you’re just plain STUPID.

(With thanks to Nick, Boy 3 back in 1976)


Saturday, 25 September 2010

18. Naivety of youth (ii) At the "Splendid" cinema, Buenos Aires, 1963

Waiting for the lights to dim before the start of the film...

Niece (10) (  That man over there walking up the aisle, why is he so short?

Uncle visiting from England, kindly taking niece to the cinema (35):  Because he was too tall and he kept bumping his head, so they cut off a piece of each leg below the knee, bandaged him up till it healed and could walk again, and there you are, much more comfortable.

Niece, lost in admiration that smart uncle from England should know these things:  Aaaaaah 

(Time it took to realise I had been hoodwinked = a few hours, as I thought about it on the way home on the bus)


Friday, 24 September 2010

17. Naivety of youth (i). On a farm in the Córdoba hills, Argentina,1962

Standing on a gate so as to get a good viewpoint, watching cattle being herded along a path.

Cousin 1, female (9) (, excited to be standing next to older Cousin 2, whom she admires:  Why are those steers trying to get on top of those cows?

Cousin 2, female (17):  Because they’re trying to stand up of course.

Cousin 1 (feeling foolish at being caught out on something so obvious):  Of course, sorry...

(Time it took to realise I had been hoodwinked =  20 years, when I heard somebody making a similar comment and it all came back...)


Thursday, 23 September 2010

16. At a bus stop, Bristol

Older brother (22 at the time of the incident):

We're coming back from the nightclub at about midnight, obviously p*ssed, and suddenly my brother clutches his chest and doubles over.  "What's the matter?" I says.  He doesn't answer, just looks funny, like.  "Come on" I says, "what's up?"  His face is all screwed up and he gasps "it really, really hurts".  I'm getting really worried now, looking for my mobile phone, going to dial 999.  He's falling on the pavement, his knees drawn up, still clutching his chest, and I'm swearing at the phone because I had switched it off in the club and now it's taking forever to come back on.  "Hang on in there bro", I tells him, "I'm getting an ambulance".

Then suddenly out of nowhere I hear this massive long fart, with so many notes to it I thought it was God Save the Queen.  Now it's me that's gasping for air - he just jumps up right as rain and says "That's better.  Quick, here comes the bus."  Just like that.

Lucky I hadn't got through to the emergency services - how do you tell them you've changed your mind cos it was just a fart?

(With thanks to Nick, the would-be 999 dialler)


15. Buenos Aires, on the tube

Little girl (5) to her mother:  The difference between the train and the tube is that the tube has a roof.

(Gustavo's comment:  So does that make the train a convertible??)

(Translated from Gustavo's blog, Blogudeces de la Vida Cotidiana - with thanks)


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

14. Hairdressers (III), Bristol. Saturday morning

Female Client, long blond hair, scrutinising a hair-styling magazine (40):  Mmm – let me see… yes, I think I’d like that style please.  But without the flowers in it, mind.

Stylist, female (35):  (puzzled tone) Uh, right….

Blond Client:  …and the colour… well, I’d say like Gordon Ramsay’s…

Stylist:  (even more puzzled tone) Uh, riiiiiight……..

Blond Client:   And I don’t want my hair over-conditioned.

A couple of hours’ later, after she’s departed.

Hair salon proprietor, male (38):  She was three sheets to the wind, that one.  Best advertisement for banning all-day drinking I’ve ever seen…


Monday, 20 September 2010

13. Hairdressers (II), Bristol. Saturday morning

Client just arrived, breathlessly (57):  My husband and I have a double appointment, but he wants to know if he has time to pop over to the supermarket in Portishead to buy his oysters first…?

Stylist, female (35):  No problem love, you tell him to get his oysters. (Client goes back outside).

Hair salon proprietor, male (38):  I say, we’re going up in the world.  I’ve never had that question asked in here before…


Sunday, 19 September 2010

12. Hairdressers (I), Bristol. Saturday morning

Bristolian Girl 1, chewing gum, hair wrapped in foil papers (22):  Love going down the pub Saturday night, me.  A few vodkas, a chat with me mates…

Bristolian Girl 2, being blow-dried, shouting above the sound of the drier (24):  Me too.  I like beer, meself…

Bristolian Girl 1:  Wow that’s cool – how much can you take?

Bristolian Girl 2:  Pints.  Always have a pint.

Bristolian Girl 1:  Ooh I couldn’t.

Bristolian Girl 2:  Yeh but I can only have 2 pints max, mind.  Thing is, my problem is I can’t burp, so I have to drink it ever so slow.  I can only manage 2 pints in an evening or I get diarrhoeal.*

(*Bristolians sometimes put “L’s” on the ends of words.)


Saturday, 18 September 2010

11. On the bus, Bristol City Centre to Pill - the following day

Same passenger as yesterday (voice recognised by your eavesdropper from the day before, unfortunately too late after she had sat down in front of her)

Passenger 1, female (45):  I hear children screaming at each other so I goes to the window – I live on the first floor – and they can’t be more than 7 or 8 years old, and I hear the bigger one saying “you wait till I tell my dad about you, he’ll twist your f…… head off”.  Well, I can’t be doing with that sort of language, but I don’t like to interfere.  The child’s mother lives next door, and she must have heard it because she put her head out the window and told him off for swearing.  Not the threat of violence, mind, just the swearing.  He scuffles about a bit, with his head hanging.  I’ve still got my head out the window after she goes back inside and slams hers, and I hear the child say again – “I f…….ing mean it”. 

It’s shocking the way children talk to each other these days, not really what one wants to hear, but of course I wouldn’t interfere.

Passenger 2, female (35):   Mmmm


Friday, 17 September 2010

10. On the bus, Bristol City Centre to Pill

Passenger 1, female, (45):  So I wrote to the bus company, I said it’s just not on – you left me and my son stranded unable to get home because of the demonstration in the city centre, and we had to get a taxi home.  And of course I had to buy my son something to eat because he was hungry after having to wait so long.  The least you can do is pay my expenses home, and they said….

10 minutes later...

…I rang them and they said it wasn’t their fault that there was a demonstration, that they weren’t liable for consequential loss and I said it’s disgusting, you shouldn’t be treating your customers like this.  I wasted most of an evening trying to get home…

10 minutes later...

…I wrote again and told them that if they didn’t pay for the taxi they should at least refund the bus fares.  So they sent me a voucher for £1.20…

Passenger 2, female (35):  ONE POUND TWENTY P!!!

Passenger 1 (45):  Well, it’s the principle of the thing, isn’t it, you can’t treat customers like that…

10 minutes later...

…I mean they’ve got to be taught to respect their customers and……..

(The eavesdropper had by this time lost the will to live)


Thursday, 16 September 2010

9. In Northern Ireland (“Norn Iron”), somewhere on the street

Belfast, scene of a road accident, someone lying on the road being tended to by a paramedic.

Passer-by:  What’s going on?

Local:  A fella fell off a lorry…

(With thanks to Eric)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

8. In the Office, Bristol

Female student on work experience in admin department (16):  See, if I could take home all this filing, I could sort it all out when I’ve had me tea, and bring it in all done tomorrow…

Office Manager (40):  I can’t possibly allow you to do that – you’re on work experience and you’re too young to do overtime.  And anyway, why would you want to take work home?

Female student:  It’s me boyfriend, he won’t leave me alone – always pawing at me.  If I tell him I’ve got work to do and I’m too busy, he won’t hassle me with all that kissing and stuff, will he?

(Office Manager is speechless for once in her life)


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

7. At a holiday campsite, West Country, England

Little boy on holiday campsite, rainy day (8):  Mum, do warehouses have traffic lights?

Mother:  I don’t understand you.

Little boy:  Well, I’ve seen a cartoon in a magazine about an Irishman who says he’s waiting outside a warehouse for the red light to turn green and...

Mother:  Show me the cartoon.  Is it from that magazine you’re holding behind your back?  Give it here...

Little boy:  Um... I’ve lost it... no it’s not that one... it isn’t.... it’s another one... no, it’s not mine, I didn’t buy it at the campsite shop, I found it lying around, honest...

Older sister, scornfully (10):  That doesn’t say warehouse, it says whorehouse.


Little boy (2 minutes later):  ... so Mum, why would there be a red light outside a whorehouse?

(With thanks to Nick, work colleague and the once-upon-a-time 8-year old)


Monday, 13 September 2010

6. In a car, Bristol, 1978

The local Bristolian accent, among other idiosyncrasies, involves putting an “L” on the end of words ending in a vowel.  Thus for example the city itself was once called 'Brigstowe', and gradually evolved into 'Bristol'.

Nervous pupil on her first driving lesson as she pulls away from the kerb (24):  I’m from Argentina, and my dad taught me to drive when I was 14 so I can drive…and...

Driving instructor who’s heard it all before (60’s):  Young lady, it makes no difference to me whether you’re from Argentinal or anywhere else in Americal, you haven’t got a clue.  I can see straight away from how you pulled away from that kerb that you have no periphecal vision.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

5. In the kitchen, over the steaming saucepans

Conversation between my mother and sister circa 1953, when she was five years old, as reported by my mother during the rest of her life.

Daughter (5):  Mummy, what's sex?

Mother (30) - panic in voice:  Uh - what? Sex?  What do you mean sex?  Where did you hear that?

Daughter:  You Mummy, you say it all the time.

Mother - doing a double take:  What ARE you talking about?

Daughter:  Whenever I ask you to do something you always say "wait two secs".

(Sound of mother collapsing in chair with relief.)


4. At Holy Trinity Church, Temperley, in the southern suburbs of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Little girl heard joining in with the Lord’s Prayer (10):  ”…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us, and lead us not into Temperley Station, but deliver us from evil….”


3. In a pub, Aberdeen

English tourist sipping a gin tonic (50’s):  I was hoping to see the Northern Lights this visit. 
Dour Scot after a long pull on his pint of ‘heavy’ (70’s):  Aye, that’s the Roly Poly Alice.  It’s the auld Scots name for it, ye ken.


2. On the tube, London

Male Traveller 1 – American (20’s):  Haven’t seen her for a long time, since I was in Washington, what's she up to these days?
Female Traveller 2 – British (teenager):  She’s just finished her cursory education, as you call it over there.
(Maybe they do – he certainly didn’t correct her…)


1. In the office, Bristol

Female office worker 1 (20’s):  Went into town yesterday, to get that blue top I told you about.
Female office worker 2 (40’s):  Oh yeah?  I was there, really busy, wasn’t it?  Where did you park?
Office worker 1:  I tried the multi-storey on Fairfax St but it was chocolate block.  Had to park up a side street miles away.