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.




And (look away if you can't bear a spoiler) here he is after his visit from Mr Neat and Mr Tidy. 






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. 









Comments

  1. This is so true. An exact transcription of the thoughts in our heads. When I tried to meditate, our minds were described as 'chattering monkeys'. Considering this is the way we talk spontaneously, it is astonishing how many coherent stories have passed down to us through oral tradition.

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    1. I know, right? What an incredible process it all is. As for the phrase, 'chattering monkeys', that couldn't describe it better!! Thank you for reading and commenting. x

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  2. I read somewhere (how's that for attribution) that not everyone has that kind of monkey brain. And I knew it was right. My brain is like yours, always going in every direction, but my husband's is not. He can sit and think of nothing, and not because he's trying to empty his mind, or because he is unintelligent, that's just how his brain works when he's not actively using it. Apparently the world is divided on this issue, some of us in overdrive and some in neutral. So, what did you make for dinner, or are you still considering all the possibilities? :)

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    1. That's so interesting. How lovely it would be to have a switch so that we could be in monkey brain mode sometimes and in non-monkey brain mode at others. As for dinner, mash!

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  3. My mind is just as disorderly, which is why I listen to music and take naps.

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  4. I am exactly the same! Always listen to music/podcast while walking otherwise it all gets very, very messy. Good luck with your hunt!

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  5. And I like your new book very much.

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    1. Thank you! That is kind. The one I'm thinking about now obsessively, though, is a new-new one, as in, one being currently written. Very early stages. May never see the light of day. But one cracks on.

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  6. No, podcasts would be far too interesting. The last thing I need is to get distracted enough to walk in front of a car...

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    1. This is true. Fortunately, the only danger in our local fields is a tractor, and I think I'd see/hear that one coming even if I were listening to the radio!

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  7. I have been doing a lot of walking recently and with a few minor changes, that's exactly what the inside of my head looks and sounds like. I can't imagine being silent in there, or not having something going on.

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    1. I was just thinking, though - I don't miss my days as a schoolteacher when I would wake so much in the middle of the night with my mind chattering away in similar fashion so that I couldn't get back to sleep. At least the chattering is only in the daytime now.

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