I’ve been having a quiet week: taking time for a little silence, clicking the mute button, filling the well of hush. Deliberately so, as tomorrow the flow of Christmas visitors arrive and with them a stream of words, talking, catching up. I’m quite happy about it – I love to chat. One of my visitors is a nine year-old boy who is incredibly loquacious. It is a gift, one that keeps on giving; there is no rest for his eloquence and I cannot keep up with the velocity of his verbosity. At least he is interesting, though. Sometimes, when I get going, I listen to myself wind-bagging and think I could bore a car manual proof-reader (I don’t know if that’s a real job, but it would be my worst nightmare). Take my new bedroom curtains; who would not be interested to consider, at length, their length? Without hesitation, deviation or interruption, I could talk about them ad nauseam: how they don’t meet the floor…. should I shorten them so they reach the bottom of the window?….would that look odd?….should I sew a panel onto the bottom in a single red colour to match the print so they reach the floor?…. would that look odder still? Have you nodded off yet?
C. S. Lewis gave me pause for thought this week. Something he had written made me laugh out loud as he drew open metaphorical curtains to shed light on the ponderous act of praying. Of course, it is wonderful to offer good intentions – or do we use it as a cop out? Here’s what Lewis had to say: “It’s so much easier to pray for a bore than it is to go and see him.” That’s a bit of a challenging one. We can’t have lofty, intellectual conversations all the time and, if we did, I think it would be as much of a bore as having to visit one. If your find your conversation a little dull – bordering on the boring – so be it. After all, it can be the inconsequential chatter that makes for happy exchanges and glues our lives together; there is a great deal of satisfaction in talking about every day bits and bobs.
Often my writing takes the place of talking. Are you ever halfway through recounting a story to someone when you think to yourself – ‘I’m sure I have told them this before?’ I get that feeling all the time when I write. I’m halfway through a paragraph and I think, ‘I’m sure I’ve written this before, you old bore!’ So if I’m ever boring you, sorry about that, I hope to do better tomorrow. In the meantime, let me lean on the greatness of Irish poet, Paul Durcan, who shows us that beautiful, simple and life-affirming conversation can be poetic.
‘Tullynoe: Tête-à-Tête in the Parish’s Priest’s Parlour’, by Paul Durcan
“Ah, he was a good man.”
“He was: he fell out of the train going to Sligo.”
“He did: he thought he was going to the lavatory.”
“He did: in fact he stepped out of the rear door of the train.”
“He did: God, he must have had an awful fright.”
“He did: he saw that it wasn’t the lavatory at all.”
“He did: he saw that it was the railway tracks going away from him.”
“He did: I wonder if…..but he was a grand man.”
“He was: he had the most expensive Toyota you can buy.”
“He had: well, it was only beautiful.”
“It was: he used to have an Audi.”
“He had: as a matter of fact he used to have two Audis.”
“He had: and then he had an Avenger.”
“He had: and then he had a Volvo.”
“He had: in the beginning he had a lot of Volkses.”
“He had: he was a great man for the Volkses.”
“He was: did he once have an Escort?”
“He had not: he had a son a doctor.”
“He had: and he had a Morris Minor too.”
“He had: he had a sister in Kilmalock.”
“He had: he had another sister a hairdresser in Ballybunion.”
“He had: he was put in a coffin which was put in his father’s cart.”
“He was: his lady wife sat on top of the coffin driving the donkey.”
“She did: Ah, but he was a grand man.”
“He was: he was a grand man….”
“Good night, Father.”
“Good night, Mary.”
3 thoughts on “Yakety Yak”
Love the poem you selected.
That bore-fear is why I tend toward poetry. Better to miss someone’s understanding or attention in 10 or 20 lines than bore them with ten, a hundred or a thousand times more.
Enjoy your shortest day. It’s grey skies to white ground here.
thank you Frank. a sea fog is pouring up into Edinburgh from the docks tonight, on this shortest night
On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 6:10 PM, My Edinburgh Press wrote:
Well, I have been reading your posts straight through from Sept-Dec, and I have yet to be even the least bit bored — quite the contrary! I have been dazzled, uplifted, moved, and comforted. They are treasures — so are you.
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