Sunday, August 13, 2006

Gripping Glimpses

Sometimes you catch a glimpse of someone else's life. Not in a Big Brother sort of way. Thinner than that. Not in a chatting over a meal with new friends way; that is an agreed disclosure. It has rules.

I mean the sort of glimpse you get when you hear someone shouting at a partner walking down the street as you pass them and you are momentarily grateful that you aren't either of them.

The brief entry you are offered into someone else's life when you hear them being rude to a waiter, arguing over pennies in dividing a restaurant bill or being unforgiving when you have made a driving misjudgment. Me not them. So glad.

I have a gripping glimpse into someone's life every time I find a shopping list left in a basket or trolley at the supermarket. Here is one I found yesterday:

Orange Juice
Cat Food


Note the misspelling of croissants (unless the person spent a fruitless half hour in Tescos looking for coissants and discovering they didn't exist).

Note the gap between the list and the cash, suggesting that this is an after-thought or separate transaction (Tescos do cashback after all).

And note, although you can't tell here, that the dot over the i in the word 'milk' is a full circle whilst the other dots are, well, dots.

The gripping glimpse? The list is written on the back of the business card of Bev Morris, Business Manager of Manpower UK Ltd. I have his or her phone number, fax, address and email. Did this person become so desperate for paper they used their own business card? Or did Bev mean so little to them that they re-used the card previously proffered because Bev's services were never to be required?

So many people. So many little stories. So many questions? I am going to utilise all the people whose lives I have encountered in such a way - lists in guest books, scrawl on walls or names shouted out in waiting rooms. They will find themselves known as if by an all-seeing being. Identity theft; I will turn you to fiction. Watch out.

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