scribbles tagged ‘conversation’

Dinner with strangers

Thursday, October 15th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Chicago trip (15)You have to book a table in the dining car on the Amtrak “Empire Builder”. You wait at the carriage door to be seated and the waiter places you with 3 other passengers, who embarked and will disembark at different stations. Forced socialness.  I was placed at a table with Betty and John, a couple with silvering hair, and Glenn. A fat, balding  realtor with 5 daughters.

Glenn: I detect an accent, what bought you to America, what’s his name

Wendy: (named my employing Fortune 100 company and it’s male CEO)

John nearly spat out his food, and barely managed to subdue the smile. As the meal progressed Glenn changed from domineering, leading the conversation to quiet. I felt a bit mean, but such overt sexism tends to quell my ability to empathise with a person.

Also, Betty and John’s story was very interesting. Glenn’s story was also interesting… but…

1 wonderful musing »

Getting the greeting right

Friday, April 10th, 2015 | tags:  |


American #1: Living the dream!


Wendy: HiYa!

American #2: Rockin’


Wendy: hi ya

American #3: Doin’ fine


Wendy: Hey!

American #4:  (Nods head and smiles)


I’m still working on it….

4 bits of fabulous banter »


Saturday, January 31st, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Wendy: How Ewe doin’ ?

Local: I’m living the dream

I think there’s a touch of sarcasm pervading the region. I like it. I must stop giggling and join the conversation….

what do you think of that »

Mixing pleasantries

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

Wendy: thank you very much

Checkout staff: you’re welcome very much

what do you think of that »

estimating the odds

Monday, June 30th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Seattle, 2006, I’m 43. A weekend phone call home. Dad always triages the phone calls. One phone is next to his computer. He doesn’t chat, but I’m prepared with a question primed by my annual medical check-up

“Dad, how old was mum when she started the menopause?”

“56 and we’re still suffering!” She was 66 at the time

I was still giggling when mum picked up the extension line…

1 wonderful musing »


Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Truch clearing snowBar staff: where are you moving to?

Wendy: Minneapolis

Bar staff: (raises eyebrows, furrows brows looking perplexed)

Wendy: It’s in the USA

Bar staff: Wow! I’d love to move out of Reading

2 bits of fabulous banter »

colour saturated grass

Monday, April 14th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Estate Agent #1

  • This is the only other coach house on sale in the area, one more bedroom but no garden or off-road parking
  • Buyers can find out what you paid for this house, and when you bought it
  • I had to explain to my Indian client what a coach house was, he just didn’t understand
  • Someone will walk into the garden and fall in love with this place before they’ve even got through the door (Indeed, that’s what happened to me)
  • Oh! That bath…
  • We’ve never had a problem showing houses to people with cat allergies, we did have one client bitten by an owner’s dog. The dog had been locked in the garden and the client was told not to go into the garden
  • I’m from Bristol

Estate agent #2

  • This is the most desirable area in Reading
  • Double off-road parking is worth around 20K
  • We don’t get many character properties like this downtown
  • I’m from Bristol

Estate agent #3

  • I can tell you what the other agents said (he did, and he was wrong)
  • Fantastic (repeatedly, like a carbon copy of his colleague that I spoke to on the phone)
  • What a fantastic kitchen
  • Our website is new and really good, it’s got pictures of the founding partners on it
  • We’ll do a TV presentation for a character property like this one.

I didn’t get the impression that any of them offered anything that would add any real value over the property details and access to buyers that have been pre-screened for a mortgage. None of them really told me about their access to the type of people that would like to buy the Wendy house. I suggested excluding:

  • couples planning to start a family – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
  • elderly people or planning for this to be a last, retirement, home – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
  • people over 5″8 – low beam crossing the dangerous staircase
  • people that love to cook – tiny kitchen separated from the dining area by the hallway

Estate agent #1 was the least offensive, arrogant. She listened and related to me as a person most effectively.  Maybe I’ll have to make my own promotional materials pack – showing related documentation from my purchase, guarantees on work done, local service professionals etc

7 bits of fabulous banter »

feigning old age is ok for furniture, not people

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Wendy: Mum! I’ve found some beautiful old-fashioned style furniture, like Grandma used to have. It’s imitation 1700’s and probably really from around the 1900’s

mumzie: have you looked inside the doors and drawers to see if it’s labelled? There was a good reproduction furniture maker in Nettlebed

Wendy: Nettlebed?! That’s nearby, Sue Ryder have a beautiful big place there

what do you think of that »

girls’ friends are girls

Saturday, September 21st, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

French Speaking Montréal Native (FSMN): Do you know Montréal?

Wendy: I’ve never visited,  but a friend from there spoke of it fondly and frequently, I suspect it’s beautiful

FSMN: was she a French speaker

Wendy: He was born and lived in France for the first 12 years of his life, and spoke French as his first language

what do you think of that »

beware of breakfast bouncers

Thursday, January 31st, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

breakfast bouncer: What room are you in?

wendy: 118

breakfast bouncer: I don’t know that room

wendy: maybe it’s floor 1 room 18? My check-in card says 118 (holds-up check-in card)

After checking my name a hefty line was drawn through the paper sheet that listed the breakfast sentences of hotel guests.

breakfast bouncer: just to let you know, the toaster’s not working, do you want white or brown toast?

wendy: (confused, pauses)

breakfast bouncer: DO you WANT white or BROWN toast?

Wendy: Brown, please?

The bouncer sent me to my seat with an instructive arm wave. Minutes later returning to tell me I could get myself tea and fruit juice. Timidly, I left my allotted cell and made myself a tea. Sometimes it can be a bit of a trial not pissing-off the British breakfast bouncers.

Today I failed.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

expanding mole hill

Saturday, January 5th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Sunday Brunch.  Maximillianswaitstaff: would you like anything to drink?

wendy: a glass of merlot, please

waitstaff: what size?

wendy: oh, um, 125ml please

waitstaff: no, we don’t have that size

wendy: oh, um, what size can I choose?

waitstaff: 175 or 250ml

wendy: 175 please

waitstaff: is that red wine?

wendy: merlot

waitstaff: is that red wine?

wendy: yes it’s red wine

Do you think I passed that test?


2 bits of fabulous banter »

short changed

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Morning cup of teaRecently I spent a long weekend on holiday with a friend – seeing the local sights pottering around in Thomas and on foot, eating local delicacies, and sharing a room in a thatched cottage.

I learned that I am more comfortable with silence than my friend. It felt like my friend talked almost non-stop. They didn’t, but it felt like it. As if they needed to fill every silence with words.

At first, I listened to all the words, then gradually my mind wandered away. Their words like a radio programme chattering in the background as my thoughts wandered around the fabulous autumn Devon views. My friend didn’t appear to need my listening, no input from me needed.

Normally living alone, with much silence, I found this stream of talking most strange. On the occasions when my friend was silent they were tapping away into their phone, or computer, presumably social networking. They would read, with verbal annotation and explanation, the text’s they’d received.  This total sharing is not something I’m used to. Unsolicited, it felt somehow inappropriate. I suspect it was actually some kind of generous gift of openness, non-exclusion. A sweet generous friend.

If I said something, made a statement, it would be followed by my friend’s analysis of the topic of my statement. I learned a lot about my friend. They learned about my silences and way of being,  little more.  They didn’t ask. I wonder if they felt short-changed.

5 bits of fabulous banter »

swee’ tea

Friday, November 23rd, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Teapots, glitterball, white sheets & thatchwendy: in the 70’s I used to take 2 teaspoons of sugar in my tea

4 people under 40: *WINCE and scowl*

wendy: actually my whole family used to drink tea with at least one teaspoon of sugar in it

4 people under 40: *chorus of: YUCK with liberal nosewrinkles*

wendy: come to think of it, everyone I knew drank tea with at least one suger in it

4 people under 40: *leave the room shaking their heads and tutting*

Times have changed…

8 bits of fabulous banter »


Saturday, October 6th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

what did you do to your arm?

broke it

How did you do that?

fell off a bike and landed on the curb

Does it hurt?


I think she was trying to make conversation. I totally failed to help out. Her assumption that blamed me – ‘how did you do that?‘, rather than unplaced blame ‘how did that happen?’ , for the break coupled with no obvious empathy made it was easy to forget to be generous to this stranger

5 bits of fabulous banter »

No, No, No….Yes

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Repeat 3 times:

me: Hello, my name is Wendy House. On Wednesday 29th August during my appointment at the fracture clinic the Dr told me that I would have my first physiotherapy session next week, which is this week. The receptionist told me that I would recive a letter with the appointment time – I haven’t recived a letter and I’d like to check what time my appointment is.

I’ll forward you to the [name] department.

Reach the Physiotherapy department and eventually get a good result:Physio

They shouldn’t tell you to phone us.

me: They didn’t. They said I’d get a letter, and I haven’t so I decided to phone you.

They shouldn’t have said that – we don’t send out letters.

You’re not on my system. Hang on while I look at these files.

Oh! you’re right on the top with a note to phone you and make a direct appointment – broken arm. It will take some time to enter all this data but I can make the appointment now. Will 11.40 on Thursday suit you?

me: Yes. Do I go to the same place as before? The fracture clinic on Floor 2.

No!  Go to physiotherapy.

me: So I’ll walk in the main entrance and ask reception to point me to physiotherapy?

No! They could send you anywhere. Are you driving?

me: (giggles) No, I’m on foot

Go to accident and emergency, stand at the entrance facing the main car park and we’re on you’re left

me: Thankyou

5 bits of fabulous banter »

smart fox

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 | tags: ,  |

Hat #20: English FoxyJim: you don’t need introductions because you’ve met before

wendy: yes, at solstice

Sue: at solstice?

wendy: I was wearing the fox’s ears

Sue: I remember the fox’s ears, I just can’t picture you in them, you look so…. ….so….smart

wendy: errrrm, thankyou, I think….

what do you think of that »

data retention policy

Sunday, May 20th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

On a Friday evening commuter train riding home from Paddington toward Reading town I watch the scenery roll past while listening to the American in the seat behnd me talk on the phone about the data retention policies of an international organisation

I’m drowned in the chatter of half-conversations around me. Everyone is travelling alone, most people are talking to someone on the phone.

A lady two rows back is having an arguement about her ex-husband and her medication. I suspect that nearly everyone in the carriage heard, no-one comments, it’s not our business.

Private in public, privates on parade…

what do you think of that »

out of the closet

Monday, May 14th, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Cricket Jumperwendy: I’ve recently realised that I’m a cross-dresser

Spottydog: (laughs) are you serious? I’ve known that for ages!

wendy: well obviously I suspected, what with all the trousers and buying mens jumpers.  But I bought the jumpers because they’re virtually the same as the womens jumpers except they’re cheaper.  I thought I was just buying cheaper versions of girls clothes. But I’m not sure anymore. I think I might be a transvestite. Is a transvestite the same thing as a cross dresser?

Spottydog: does it matter?

wendy: well, I’d like to know what to say to people when I come out of the closet

Spottydog: you’re not in the closet

wendy: oh yeah…  ….do you like my new cricket jumper?  It’s to go with my kilt…

2 bits of fabulous banter »

more… …please….

Sunday, May 6th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

During a conversation about Reading town pubs, one fellow suddenly blurts out

 I love your house!  

wendy: that’s the right answer, me too (huge cheshire cat grin)

fellow: it’s like a secret courtyard hidden away from the city, in the heart of the city!

wendy: (HUGE Grin – pours the fellow more alcohol)

Door knocker

2 bits of fabulous banter »

deconstructing Dr Who’s equipment

Thursday, April 12th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

My mother’s elder brother-in-law, a 94 year old ballroom dancing Mason, brings a collection of origami animals to a House family meal:

Niece 92’s boyfriend: I can work out how it’s made,  if I take it apart

Bros 57: Will you use a MaSonic screwdriver to take it apart?

Bros 62 and I laughed outselves off our chairs. The waiters hovered like vultures. We lost our Masonic uncle a couple of times that night, physically, mentally and metaphorically

Later that night I dreamt that Alan Bennet dropped by to sort us all out

That helped

what do you think of that »

I’ve been inboxed!

Friday, April 6th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Bellevue Starbucks WirelessPhrases used to publically declare that people will follow-up on something in a more private conversation:

  • I’ll inbox you later”  (On Facebook)
  • let’s take this offline”  (In an email thread)
  • let’s take this offline”  (During a group meeting)
  • “Can you give me a hand carrying the drinks” (In a pub)
  • “Let’s freshen-up” (In a restaurant)


3 bits of fabulous banter »

Jackson’s knitwear department

Saturday, March 31st, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Wendy in Jacksons Corner  ShopTwo mature ladies perusing the various wool brands:

I’m cold

It was colder last week, it’s not like we live in the Arctic, you’ll just have to man-up

1 wonderful musing »

Dear god(ess)(‘)(s)

Friday, January 27th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Please could you arrange for good ideas to arrive with clear steps on how to realise their potential.

Yesterday a good idea arrived like a large flock of  rooks attempting to roost in a rather small woodshed – a lot of wing flapping, sqwarking –  unnecessary fuss. It’s a tad discombobulating.

I don’t mind a wee bit of searching, calming, ducking, cleaning, sorting and praising. But it woud be rather nice to have the occassional good idea arrive as a yellow brick road with time for me to walk tall, breath deeply and wear a stylish pair of sunglasses as the idea unfolds.

Thank you, yours sincerely, wendy-flocking-a-fab-inspiration

dawn flocking


4 bits of fabulous banter »

Train car cough any of children

Thursday, January 5th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

are you the princess?” the 67 year old lady asks the 7 year old girl, adding  “I’m a dinosaur

“no you’re not” even though the girl is already displaying advanced gender conformity, she hasn’t yet refined her agism prejudices…  …she can still spot the difference between dinosaurs and old ladies

No, not really, but it’s what old people call themselves”  The child makes an accurate observation about aging  “when I grow up my hair wont be blonde anymore” The old bint espouses the popular psuedo-feminist position of  ‘choice freedom’ within the boundaries of legitimate girly behaviours “you can dye your hair any colour that you want”. The mother sighs and adds “she’s a very girlie girl, she’ll only wear dresses and loves pink and purple

I press my face against the train window watching the beautiful English, Dorset, countryside fly-by – but I can’t escape the conversations of popularist female conformity…

Train ride to St Ives

3 bits of fabulous banter »

complaining psuedo liberal dude

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

A Psuedo Liberal Dude (PLD) notices that the patriarchy has eroded his wife’s self-worth:

PLD: I wish my wife was more like you

wendy: MwaHaHaHaHa….(pause)    No you don’t

PLD: Yes I do, I wish she was more confident

wendy: I’m more confident because I see myself doing a relatively good job of something compared to others. So,  I can see when others need to put some effort into improving what they do.  I could give them helpful advice, if they wanted it.  Do you wish your wife was more confident like me?

PLD: Um….   …. no

wendy: didn’t think so

He’s tired of fighting the patriarchy by repeatedly re-inforcing her self-worth. But he doesn’t really want her to have strong self worth. If she did, she might see his shortcomings and suggest improvements.  From his perspective it’s better that she has an irritating lack of confidence while paying adequate homage to him…

4 bits of fabulous banter »

imaginary friends

Sunday, September 25th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

Smoking and drinking alone outside a pub
Grey overcast skies and a chilling September breeze
Between taking long drags on her cigarette, she talks
As-if to another person
Her brow furrows, she leans towards her imaginary friend
It doesn’t look like a happy conversation

Luckily, I can be very selective with my imaginary friends, they’re a fabulous crew who are more likely to draw laughter than a frown

Imaginary Friend

4 bits of fabulous banter »

New Yorkan

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

With bubbly enthusiasm Tracey describes the people she met in Geneva when representing the UK at a Proctor and Gamble hosted international conference:

His parents were from Naples in Italy, they moved to New York before he was born, so even though he looks Italian he’s a real New Yorkan

He was a bit of a scientist boffin from Germany, his name was “Yo!-harn” or something like that, I had trouble with it so I called him Yogi Bear, how we laughed!

Tracey’s exhuberance was captivating, she quickly built a picture of people from all over the world enjoying each other’s company, sharing a passion…

what do you think of that »

words are deeds

Friday, September 9th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

Words are a powerful force, even descriptive statements have the power to cause action, illocutionary force. What people choose to say, or not say, causes the world to change

If a guest in the Wendy House makes a statement like “it’s cold in here” then I will interpret that as a description of discomfort. The force of the statement pushes me to suggest either

  • lighting the woodstove
  • providing a jumper
  • making another pot of tea
  • going somewhere warmer
  • doing something that raises our body temperature

Long Beach SignThe reply will either confirm, or disconfirm, my assumption and take us a step nearer to making the immediate world a more pleasant place to be

Some people use their illocutionary force with skill, wisely or cruely. Some people spew words in a stream of consciousness seemingly without awareness of their forceful impact on listeners

4 bits of fabulous banter »


Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Someone said ennui in a real conversation

  • as-if it might be a real word
  • as-if I might know what it means!

what a tease!

It sounded like “ahn-wee, setting-off my sensitively calibrated toilet-word-radar alarm. Wee?!

Sandwiches, Scones, Clotted cream and cakesGiggling ensued, then I checked the spelling and looked up the meaning

This was not a tease. This was a real word and the utterer had used it in a sentence that made total sense

A celebratory tea party is in order

Bring on the cakes!

PS 82 word post before the PS

what do you think of that »

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

Saturday, July 9th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

White phone boxMaking sure you got your phone calls was a complicated affair in the days before cell phones and answer machines. Especially for a teenager. This is just one of the problems I encountered – after coming home from a long, fun night practicing with the marching band:

Mumzie: Graham called while you were out

Wendy: Graham! Which Graham? What did he say?

Darn, now mum knows there are several Grahams in my life and he might have told her something personal.

Mumzie: there’s more than one Graham? He didn’t say what it was about dear, just said to let you know he’d called

Double darn

Clearly this is a discreat Graham. Can’t pick one out from the rest based on that description. So now I have to work out in which order to phone them back. Then how to start the conversation without giving away that I don’t know if I’m returning a call, or calling them for the first time? Then I have to work out how to advise mumzie on taking future calls from Grahams, to help her work out which one called without saying “which Graham are you?” which would make each of them feel insignificant, and they’re not. They’re all special in different ways

Life’s so complicated!



2 bits of fabulous banter »