So I was on the bus back from Borough Market yesterday, with a belly full of that holy trinity that no Michelin-starred restaurant will ever come close to – a Monmouth flat white, a rocket and chorizo roll and a crème caramel from the French buttery (and may I point out that I am doing the equivalent of 12 hours weight training a day, my son is not a small child) – when a man began yelling into his mobile about how quietly he had spoken.
I’ll call him Cyril as that’s the sort of man he was – crisp white trousers, a baggy blue chambray shirt, an older, yet curiously unaged face (confirmed bachelor, no children, I suspect) and a floppy sort of hat with a rustic little twig sticking out of it.
It appeared that his friend, a woman called Jillian, was ticking him off for talking too loudly about another neighbour – clearly a sworn enemy of them both – in what sounded like a communal garden. What was odd about the conversation was that although he denied talking loudly, his voice was reverberating through the entire bus.
‘I WASN’T talking loudly Jillian! He listens. That’s what happens, he listens and he watches. I knew he was there because I heard the curtains twitching, but I WASN’T TALKING LOUDLY.’
Silence as Jillian said her piece.
‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT HIS PROBLEM IS. It’s malicious, it’s gone on for years now. He’s homophobic, that’s part of it. And it will just go on and on. But I DON’T KNOW HOW HE HEARD ME.’
‘Because I’m obsessed with him.’
‘Yes, I agree it doesn’t make sense. I don’t know how he can hear me. I never hear his parties.’
Aha. At this point he got off, still bellowing into the phone, and silence was restored. And of course, no one gave any indication of having heard a word.