What did I mean?

Without deliberately eavesdropping, sometimes you hear snatches of conversation, conducted so loudly it’s impossible not to hear it. A little while ago, I was in Taunton, and two lads, maybe eighteen-ish, maybe a couple of years older, obviously having been to some sports training as they were wearing team socks, shorts and big bulky waterproof tops, walked past me As they passed, one said to the other – and to be honest, he sounded like a chap a dozen or more years older,

‘I genuinely think she will never change. I mean, the way she is now is the way she will be in twenty years.’

Obviously I had not the remotest clue who they were talking about, or the connection to her whoever she was, but it was said in such a heartfelt way I was set to wonder what it was about her. Was she a sister, a girlfriend? It was clearly someone he knew in a different sense from being a parent, aunt, teacher – I got no sense of there being a romantic despair. Who was she? Who was he? What had she done in particular for him to say this – not in sorrow but in a downbeat sort of a way? Then, as I was crossing a road, a woman and friend went past – she had very back hair and I did think, maybe uncharitably that it was died, and she remarked with some annoyance and a sense of grievance –

‘I’ve just had a load of acupuncture and –’

And what? What had happened? It was as if she had been expected to do something, or some mishap had occurred and the acupuncture should have been taken into consideration. It wasn’t about the treatment.

On a similar vein, I caught a snippet of a radio programme, I’m not sure it was about something the speaker had written or read, or dreamed or imagined. Susan Hill was mentioned – had she written whatever it was? One of her books was fleetingly mentioned, I know not what or which. The speaker mentioned a character who saw, or maybe frequently saw a woman on the edge of a wood, or maybe it was a mere, who might have been knee-deep in water, or among trees, dressed in black, a squashed hat upon her head, her face indescribable. Maybe it was in the same book, or something the speaker had actually seen as a boy, or imagined or dreamed, running through a field of wheat and coming across a rocking chair in the middle of it. Was there someone sitting in it, or was it an image lodged in my mind from the previous trees/lake/knee deep in water thing? Who knows, I was doing something else and only caught a snatch of it. The image from this was of blue sky and yellow landscape, bisected land/sky and then a mysterious misspelled jotting ‘the contained vied’. I’d tried to note down what I’d heard – but what did I hear? What did I mean? What was my mis-spelling supposed to be?

Who knows. It’s all a mystery.

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