Last night I had an hour and a half to kill while my daughter did her Tae Kwondo class. There aren’t many places to go in Gort on a cold January evening, but I like the Lady Gregory Hotel. Sure enough, there was a nice cosy atmosphere in the hotel bar and soon I had a pot of tea and my sketchbook in front of me.
I chose to make a sketch of a large painting built into the brickwork above an archway into another part of the bar. The subject had been given a very prominent spot, but I don’t know who he was, which I thought defeated the purpose a little. While I sketched I eavesdropped on the two men sitting at a nearby table. It wasn’t hard as one of them was quite loud.
“I like potatoes and milk,” he said in a Northern Irish accent. “I hate potato salad though. Cold potatoes and mayonnaise! Horrible! And what’s more, mashed potato sandwiches! A cold mashed potato sandwich is very popular here in the South.”
No it isn’t. I’ve never heard of anyone eating a cold mashed potato sandwich and I am neither a recent arrival nor a recluse. Am I wrong? Is it a thing?
Later I ran into a supermarket to get something for dinner, as I am not that good at advance preparation. I waited in line with my stuffed pasta and one or two other items. There was just one lady ahead of me and no one behind. She threw her (many) things roughly onto the conveyor belt, and I feared for their safety. As she approached the till, it was clear that the woman and the girl on checkout knew each other. The woman ahead of me was suffering with a flu she couldn’t shake (I quietly slipped my scarf over my nose). They chatted about that for a bit and sympathy was extended. The conversation turned to smoking.
“My other half is a terrible fella for the fags,” said the woman on the till. She complained a bit about the amount he smokes.
“I’m off them twelve months,” said the woman in front of me. I wanted to offer my congratulations but I thought it might be a bit much. Then it transpired that she wasn’t 100% happy with her decision. “I’ve had one chest infection after another since,” she added.
“My nan smoked from the age of 10 till 80,” said the checkout girl. “And she dropped dead at 85. Just goes to show. You can’t give them up after so long.”
Poor lady, carried off at the tragically young age of 85.
The lady ahead of me and the checkout girl did what they needed to do, and continued their conversation in a leisurely way, making sure not to meet my eyes as I waited with my very few items.
More eavesdropping next time!