I spend some of my working life away, on the road. Like some sort of ghost, I find that I slip silently in and out of peoples’ lives. Never changing them for better or worse and never really influencing them.
I don’t consider this a particularly lonely existence. I have friends I can call if I want to. I could be brave and strike up a conversation if I felt the urge. But I don’t. On occasion, I actually quite enjoy watching life pass itself by.
However…. As the prophet Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
I am sat in a hotel/grill/bar thingy in Sydenham, London. I am stopping and looking around. In between, my fingers dance their drunken waltz over my keyboard. Because life is moving pretty fast and I don’t want it to pass me by.
It is Monday evening and it is crowded. By crowded, I mean it is not empty but not so full that I didn’t manage to get a seat to myself.
There is a football match on the widescreen television but people are talking. No one is watching the football.
Looking around me, I am the only person sat alone. There are several other groups that I can see and others that I cannot due to the presence of an old fireplace surrounded by timber panels which have been painted some sort of taupe colour I guess.
Opposite me sat at an oversized coffee table surrounded by the ‘comfy’ seating including a two seater chesterfield are three women. They are knitting and immersed in their own conversation. I have decided this is some sort of knitting club. One of them sounds like they have an American accent. They’re clearly into the crochet in a big way, hands busily turning globes of wool into something wearable. There’s a magazine doing the rounds between them, it looks like it’s about knitting. Am I the only one wondering what the end result of their efforts will be? Perhaps a blanket for an as yet unborn child? I see whites and blues but I think they are all doing their own thing. Hopefully at least one of these industrious ladies does know what the end result will be. I won’t ask them though.
To my left, a party of five co–workers (I assume). I can’t quite hear the conversation but the drinks are flowing although there are two more senior people there. Possibly one reason why it’s not too rowdy. They were very nice when I wandered over, beer in one hand and laptop in the other, kindly informing me that the table I had chosen was, indeed, available to sit at. Thanks guys!
On my right, just on the other side of the feature fireplace, two groups of two. Younger people enjoying a drink and a chat. Too far away to make any discernible observations, two of them up and leave as I write this. It’s either a school night or these young revellers are off somewhere exciting. The theatre perhaps? or for a meal somewhere else? They appear in and out of my life within seconds. Questions I have that I will never know the answer to.
To my far left, a table of two gents, engrossed in a convresation enjoying the local beers by the looks of things. Strangely, for people in their mid-twenties, neither presents themselves with the fashionable and trademark ‘hipster’ look. Or have I allowed fashion to pass me by? Is my own ‘unique’ look finally going to get into fashion? Am I about to become a clone of whatever trend lurks around the next bend in this thing I call life?
behind them sat at a podium table, two girls and a chap also enjoying some beverages. He’s not a hipster either but he does seem to have the attention of the two ladies who are, I am ashamed to say, easy on the eye even for a fellow such as me, at least five years their senior.
The conversation is lively, you can kind of hear things but there is enough room here to be in your own world. I guess at my age, I’d need to concentrate to hear an individual conversation but then I don’t want to be rude and eavesdrop either. I am happy sitting here. My life is moving pretty fast so I have enjoyed stopping and looking around and not missing it.
My final thought as I adjourn to the bar for more beer and to order some dinner is that at least these individuals’ experiences will be shared in some small way. If you were at the Brewers Inn, SW18 tonight, you were observed by a stranger, but not intrusively. You got written about, but not intimately. In my opinion, none of you let life pass you by tonight.