It’s raining (it’s pouring) and there’s no-one on the pavements of York but me and my big, purple umbrella. ☔ Well, almost no-one.
I startled a man from his gloomy (judging from the dark clouds on his rain-soaked brow) reverie by wishing him a hearty ‘Good Morning!’ His surprised nod was reward enough. This is, after all, Yorkshire, where dour is the habitual watchword.
I bamboozled a middle-aged woman walking on the pavement by slipping by to her left, which she obviously regarded as her sovereign territory. There are many people living here on York who have spent almost their whole life walking and driving on the right-hand-side of their paths and roads and so it’s a struggle to adapt to the UK’s left-hand-side ethos. I offered her a consolatory smile but she fended it off by ducking her face under her brolly.
A young woman passing me on a corner in her hooded (and soaked) raincoat said ‘ooo’ with a surprised tone to her voice. I hadn’t touched her and so I was, in turn, surprised by her interjection. I would have said ‘Good Morning’ to her too, but her back, as she marched away from me, looked a bit too huffy for my cheeriness to have had any effect. Hey-ho.
Right, I’ve reached Sainsbury’s now (I was sent out for bread (not really)) and so I’ll bid you a moist adieu. Hope you’re safe and happy. Robert.
You can learn a lot from watching people. And you can learn even more from watching people who are watching people – particularly when they notice that you are watching them.
I noticed a young woman walking down the street yesterday. I’d seen her before and had noticed that she has a noticeable bottom (stay with me now). Then I noticed that a guy was walking behind the girl.
When he noticed that I had noticed that he had noticed the young lady’s bottom and was continuing to notice it as he followed her down the street, he put an interesting expression on his face. I interpreted it as a mixture of self consciousness, embarrassment and shame, but in fact it could just have been wind and sun-burn.
Today I noticed another young lady who had another (obviously, unless it’s possible to share detachable bottoms) noticeable bottom (yeah, I know – but stick with me – there is a point to all this). Walking behind her was another guy. I thought that he had noticed the girl’s bottom so I sped up a little to see what expression he had on his face.
As I drew alongside he noticed me watching him and he turned and smiled at me and then a second later said hello. I said hi back and then put my head down and hurried on.
The thoughts I had, when he noticed me, were … interesting. I didn’t want to be noticed in this way. I wanted to be the observer without being observed. I wanted to be in charge of the event. I felt flustered, disempowered and obscurely ashamed. I felt as if I had been caught with my hand in the wrong cookie jar.
These two episodes have led me to the realisation that other people might not welcome my attention on their faces and bottoms.
But do some people want to be noticed? And how can one tell who they are?