During our recent trip to London, I was never without my pocket-sized, pale green-covered notebook, in which I would meticulously jot down my insights and observations. The results have produced more than a dozen blog posts, which, hopefully, have been acceptable.
After writing each post, I would dutifully “X” out my notes on the subject, continuing this process, until I had covered everything I had jotted down, excluding the matters I decided were not worth writing about. I have now “Xed” out the contents of my entire pale green-covered notebook.
Except for one entry.
Once revealed, you will understand why I’ve left it for last. Though you may wonder why I am writing about it at all.
I am writing about it, because it’s like a recently discovered bump in my mouth. Until treated, the smart move would be leaving it alone. But try telling that to my tongue.
Okay. Here we go.
I am standing in the “Gallery Queue” at the “Old Bailey”, London’s venerable criminal court building, where concerned parties – and, if there’s room left in the gallery, random visitors – queue up (line up), to gain entry into the courtrooms, and observe what’s going on.
I am, possibly, overly excited being there. Auditing criminal trials is one of my favorite things to do in London. We saw eight show on our visit. None of them came close to being as compelling as what I saw in those courtrooms.
The pageantry of the criminal trial, complete with black gowns and wigs (even for the women) is, hands down, the coolest show in town. (We shall set aside, for this outing, the issue of finding entertainment in other people’s misfortune. Acknowledging it’s a little dodgy.)
Standing in the queue is a freshly scrubbed young lady, of (applicable only in England) identifiably noble – or at least noble-ish – lineage – it’s the flawless skin and the impeccable bone structure – with whom I immediately struck up an energetic conversation, while we waited to be let in.
The woman turned out to be a recently graduated attorney, who had been dispatched by her law firm to take notes on a particular trial, and report back to her bosses. Our animated “back-and-forth” revealed she was as excited to be there as I was.
(I later discovered that the trial she’d be sent to involved a British company, which had sold aluminum tubing to Slokavia that had been redirected to Iran. I sat in on that trial until proceedings were dismissed, the half hour I observed seriously piquing my curiosity. On a subsequent visit to the courts, where I ran into her again, the neophyte attorney was nervously tight-lipped about the matter. Piquing my curiosity even more.)
We chattered on (during our first encounter) for about fifteen minutes. Then, the door opened, and the court attendant let us in.
It was only then that I discovered that I had irritated another female visitor, who’d been queued up in front of us. I did not pick up her entire conversation with her companion, but I did see her gesturing in my direction, and, in a tone reflecting annoyance, heard her pronounce me to be,
I did not respond to the charge, feeling too wounded to defend myself. Later, however, when the sting of the moment had receded, I revisited the encounter in my mind, deciding I was not “long-winded.” I was, simply, and more accurately,
What’s the difference, you may ask? Without reaching for the dictionary, to me, “talkative” means “amiably chatty”, holding forth on various subjects in an entertainingly enjoyable manner. “Long-winded”, on the other hand, refers to some insufferable yawn inducer, prattling on endlessly, often on a subject nobody cares about.
Though I could see this could easily be viewed as a distinction without an identifiable difference, especially to a nearby queue stander who finds one excruciatingly tiresome.
(Or maybe she was just agitated, because a friend or relative was about to be sent to the slammer, and she had projected her anxiety onto me.)
It is not easy, or even reasonable, for a man who has written more than a thousand blog posts nobody asked him to write, and who has just employed over seven hundred and fifty words to describe an event that could probably be encompassed in a single sentence – “This women called me ‘long-winded’, but I think I’m just talkative” – to deny that I seem to have a lot to say, That I, rightly or wrongly, believe is worth hearing. (Or reading.)
C. Aubrey Smith recounting his exploits at Balaclava – “Guns! Guns! Guns!”?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m not the best judge.
The young attorney didn’t call me “long-winded.” She seemed to be having a good time.
Anyway, now I can put my pale green-covered notebook in the drawer.
And not moment too soon!