I’ve always had a fondness for old sayings like “Empty vessels make the most noise” and “The pen is mightier than the sword” and enjoy tinkering with them so they have a different meaning.
“Birds Of A Feather….should have ended after the third series.”
“You can’t make an omelette…without frying some chips to go with it.”
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence – ever since I concreted-over my front lawn.”
“No man is an island. Except Marlon Brando, who in his later years was the size of Tasmania.”
Some old sayings completely contradict each other, as in . . .
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Out of sight, out of mind” and “He who hesitates is lost” and “Look before you leap!”
And then we come to, “It is better to travel than to arrive.”
Depending on your source of information, that was first said by either Robert Louis Stevenson or Buddha.
At the risk of offending fans of the author of “Kidnapped” and followers of the benevolent spiritual leader who had a tendency to eat all the pies – they were both wrong.
Because, neither of them endured a journey as bad as the one I did recently on a jam-packed, early evening Inter City train from London.
Surrounded by harassed commuters and foot-sore day trippers standing in the aisle, I was trapped in my window seat next to a woman who for 80-odd minutes managed the not inconsiderable feat of maintaining a non-stop conversation on a mobile phone clutched so closely to the side of her head I thought she’d had it surgically stitched to her cheek for convenience of use.
As the train pulled out of Paddington, the lady – and I use that description in its broadest sense – started talking at, rather than talking to, some poor soul on the other end of the line in a dreary monotone, launching into a meandering mealy-mouthed moan about her work colleagues.
As the miles sped by, she discussed her husband, children and her last holiday, her next holiday and one she was planning for 2018. She also mentioned her dog had just had a minor operation and she’d be picking it up from the vets the following day.
Despite the fact I was sat so close to her I could have (perhaps should have?) elbowed her in the ribs and told her to give it a rest, she kept talking loudly, everyone around her an unwilling listener.
As we approached Bristol Parkway she announced to her friend that she’d have to end the call because she’d reached her destination.
Great news for those of us who’d reached the end of our tethers.
If you appreciate irony, you’ll love what happened next.
As she stood up, I had to say something to let her know we’d all overheard her marathon phone call, so I said, “Goodbye, and I do hope your dog’s okay”.
Looking down at me with a face like thunder, she said “Do you mind! I was having a private conversation!” and stormed off down the aisle.