We had to go to a department to hand in some paperwork; it was a busy place and everyone was given an appointment time. Ours was at 3 so we arrived early and were told we couldn’t wait inside but should come back at 2:45 – which was fine! It was a lovely day so we went and sat just outside the door in the sunshine. My husband was just watching the world go by, I was reading the latest Damien Boyd novel, ‘Dead Lock’ which I really recommend – it may very well be the best yet in the Nick Dixon series!

Other people were waiting, including a man and his son sitting on the wall a little bit away from us. He made some friendly comment to my husband, who replied in a similar vein, then the man began a conversation about his son, and whether we had children… fair enough. Then he got up and came and stood in front of us and began to ask about the age of our lad, and whether he’d given us 50% pleasure and 50% pain – which I thought was a bit odd, but we said no, it was 99% pleasure. I was patently trying to read but he kept talking… friendly I guess, but a bit intrusive I thought. He asked if we were older parents (well, obviously) and then shook our hands, giving quite a strong handshake… again, it just seemed a bit odd.

He was a handsome chap, I would guess in his fifties, but quite young-looking in his manner, dress and hair style. His son was twenty (he told us) a pleasant-looking lad, we commented afterwards. The man had an accent… I thought he was Welsh (we were in Wales) but husband thought he was American… he was probably right.

It was 2:45 so we and everyone else drifted into the building, where we had to queue to go through to the waiting room. Talkative bloke was head of the queue and he was now chatting away to the person who would admit us. The queue began to move and we had to go through security, and all the time I could hear the Welsh/American chuntering on – to the person who checked his bags, to the person who scanned him, to the lady who took his details to match against his appointment.

We went through the same procedures and sat in the waiting room with everyone else; we were now next to a mum, grandma and child and we watched the little girl drawing and dancing and hopping. Behind us was a woman talking to her son about her travels to Venice… and all the time, chuntering away was the American/Welsh chap. He wasn’t speaking loudly, but very clearly in a voice which carried, so even though we were sitting three rows away with a lot of space in between I could hear what he was saying.

He and his son were called through, and after a while they emerged again and set off to wherever they were going.

“Let’s get the hell outa here!” he said.

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