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Drip Trays and Brain Dregs

I think it’s driven by my need to talk to someone who’s interesting, intelligent, knows me well and is on my side. 

Erik likes to make fun of me for talking to myself. He seems to have noticed it more recently. Not really surprised because my British Woman business is growing and I’ve taken on some other new projects which means a lot of competing priorities and constant deadlines. My brain is stuffed full of (a) things I need to be doing, (b) things I’ve done but poorly and which therefore need to be replayed on a loop, (c) things I should be doing right now but am instead pretending to clean and organize things in the house. When my brain gets to this point, the internal feed overflows and some of it spills into the real world like beer dregs filling a pub drip tray. Interesting analogy, Gallant? Yes, a bit niche I know, but I think it stems from my recent nostalgic reminiscing about my (g)olden days of working behind the bar when all I had to worry about was my next fag break.

When the beer dregs would fill up the drip tray below the taps and slop over, we’d pour them into a pint glass, set it aside and use it for the next customer who was rude to us. Not that I ever did that. Even when instructed to do so by my unscrupulous pub landlords at the Dog & Bear in Lenham. Which they absolutely never did.

Of course neither did I steal from the bar till or water down bottles of Vodka and Bacardi to make extra profits like my boss, Rob Boots, at Pontins Sand Bay, Weston-Super-Mare in 1986. Which he absolutely definitely did.

But I have my mum to thank for my habit of talking to myself. Throughout our childhood she was often heard chuntering to herself around the house and when questioned by me or my brother she would claim that it was a sign of higher intelligence. Not sure if this meant she was communicating with aliens or was spending too much time in the house on her own with only The Archers for company, but we let it pass. She might have been right, except she was probably well on her way to her Alzheimer’s diagnosis at that point.

The latest scientific research/twaddle backs her up and says that talking to yourself is a sign of genius which is very encouraging but I think it may depend on what you talk about. Mine isn’t the peppy motivating ‘Yes You Can’ sort of self-talk. Which is a good thing because it would inevitably lead to a pantomime style back and forth argument with myself: ‘Oh yes she can”. “Oh no she can’t”. Also awkward and time-consuming as I’d have to gather an audience of boys and girls to watch me perform.

Mine is more of the mundane inner chit chat and deprecating observations: ‘come on idiot, don’t screw this one up too’. But I do enjoy the experience of being listened to, and understood ,without having to endure comments on my accent or strange pronunciation of words which after 22 years never ceases to be annoying.

I know children talk out loud to no-one in particular, but I don’t want my personal narration to be associated with some wittering 2 year old. They never have anything logical to say. It’s usually just describing their world and pointing out things that everyone can see as if it’s some sort of impressive feat to have noticed ‘Dog!’ ‘Tree!’ Or, as I heard on a walk with Riley yesterday, ‘Mingo!’ It was a small child yelling and pointing in our direction. I was with Riley and thought the child had perhaps noticed that Riley has something of the dingo look about her, or maybe just misheard the ‘And Bingo was his name’ dog song. But no, turned out the child had seen the metal flamingo in someone’s front garden. ‘pparently all the cool kids are calling them ‘mingos. Idiots. In my day they were Flammies.

I blame my family for a lot of mistruths. My Grandpa Bradford used to tell us that if we pulled a face and the wind changed direction then we’d be stuck like that. As I didn’t carry a personal windsock with me, nor have access to a weather vane on the roof (though we were one of the first in Lenham to get solar panels) it was hard to tell which way the wind might be blowing. Plus it seemed unlikely that the wind would suddenly change direction at the exact same time that I was pulling a grumpy face. If I’d done something other than remedial level maths then I could perhaps tell you the probability. But I was never given this same warning if I looked delighted, or scared, or astonished. Only if I sulked, glared or cried.  Don’t cry, it ruins your face. Makes me wonder how much damage I’ve done over the years. Of course I was also told not to cut off my nose to spoil my face, which, even as a child prone to self harm seemed a step too far. But in the days before we heard of resting-bitch-face, I always felt fairly confident that I could scowl without spending the rest of my years in deep remorse. But now I look in the mirror and wonder…did the wind change at just the wrong moment without me knowing? Am I experiencing DOWCE (Delayed Onset Wind Change Effect)? Can we please talk this through?

More things for me and me to ponder in the vast drip tray of my brain. 

2 thoughts on “Drip Trays and Brain Dregs”

  1. You ARE a genius imo. I sometimes talk out loud what characters say as I write them, which is why I never write in public.

  2. And that’s why your characters always sound authentic and grounded in whatever their truth is. Thanks for reading, and commenting. Just had to get this one out of my head!

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