Reasons why Fran is desperately in search of earbuds
My try-to-get-fitter walk in the fields today was a silent one. I usually listen to the radio through earphones but have lost one of the soft earbuds and nothing spoils a walk more than having hard plastic nudging up against your fragile tympanic membrane. The BBC's 'Woman's Hour' is a brilliant programme but loyalty has limits.
It was disconcerting, walking in silence. Listening to radio distracts from the disturbing reality that my legs are propelling me in forward motion because, if I think too hard about this, I frighten myself.
Today, while walking, I had to listen to my own thoughts.
And now I've listened to my own thoughts, I remember why I like radio better.
The inside of my head is like a wastepaper basket.
Be grateful that I only offer you a brief excerpt.
Oh, look, that bird is - / Where did I put that mark scheme. I'll need it for - / My shoes are getting muddier./ Maybe mash with the fish tonight / really muddy / The trees are definitely more wintry / Perhaps I should have said yes to that request / Or chips - we haven't had chips for a while / that man's dog is off the lead / I wonder when that student's mock exam is / I don't know if I have any spare earbuds / my back hurts / oops, am I on the farmer's crop? / shall I go round the field again - yes, I will as my back isn't too bad / Or fish pie? Do I have prawns in the freezer? / Actually, that tree still has some orange leaves / I'll have to leave these shoes outside to dry / Do I need a new laptop? / What if no one likes the new book? / Or maybe not fish pie. Maybe I could egg and breadcrumb the fish / I knew I shouldn't have done an extra lap of the field / My back hurts / But if I'd said yes, I'd be too busy / or what about roasties?
When I was teaching A level English Language, we studied the nature of spontaneous speech. Spontaneous speech is how we talk when we're chatting informally, without planning what to say.
Spontaneous speech contains hesitations, pauses, mistakes, re-starts, interruptions, overlaps, repetitions and grammar errors, but it also contains shifts in topic, revisits to a previous topic, and digressions. Most people are surprised to see transcripts of real, naturally-occurring speech and how chaotic and messy it is.
Still, linguists say that, because we want to cooperate with each other, and we're desperate to be understood, we try to make what we say as coherent as possible.
I wish someone would tell my mind this. It obviously has no desire to cooperate at all or behave in a respectable, orderly manner.
I also realise what a miracle it is that, with a brain that thinks like this, I ever utter a coherent sentence, the journey from brain to tongue and lips being so short. What a process must be happening on that journey, like an unravelling of tangled wool.
Do you know the children's story of Mr Messy by Roger Hargreaves? Here's how Mr Messy looks at the start of the tale.
Something similar must happen to our thoughts before they reach an audience. Thank goodness it does. People wouldn't need a pandemic as an excuse not to come and visit.
I'm off to look for earbuds. I need a long break before visiting my own head again.