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Try not to be too much of a c— today

In one of his Edinburgh shows, my sometime colleague/friend/slightly scary presence in the room Brendon Burns claimed that he’d read the Bible and the Koran, and the message of both could be distilled down to the sentence above. (I feel stupid censoring the word cunt from the title my own blog, particularly as I’ve now written it in the text, but people do get upset about language and, although they’re wrong, I don’t have the energy to take up the argument with them all over again.) As we approach the end of the third week of TYSIC, it might be worth thinking about some of the small ways we can aim towards this goal, which is, indeed, the main idea underlying our self-improvement programme and all attempts at self-improvement.

Inspired by last week’s TYSIC champ Amy who used ‘not being lazy’ as a launchpad to take on a personal challenge as specific as daring herself to eat cheese, I’ve been trying to think laterally this week about ways I can make myself a brighter, more optimistic person: things I can do which will bring about a general rise in positivity, rather than just walking around muttering ‘everything’s going to be fine, everything’s going to be fine’ (although I have been doing that as well). 

Taking my lead this time from Laura, I decided it would be nice to try and give someone a compliment every day. Provided that it doesn’t backfire (as can happen with a compliment like ‘your breasts are extraordinarily large and round’, or ‘I wish I could smell you all day, your perfume is so perfect’, or ‘your weight issues are finally starting to turn around’), saying something nice to somebody is one of the most surefire ways of feeling better yourself. In the same way that giving a good present is, just like adults always used to insist when we were kids, better than receiving one. Unless you receive something truly awesome like a big gold clock or a prize pig.

Of course, compliments would be rather hollow if you only gave them as part of a systematic campaign of compliment-giving. But in truth, there are loads of situations every day where you think something nice about a person and just don’t vocalise it, because it’s quite awkward being a human as it is, and it very often seems too much of a gamble to risk even more awkwardness by saying ‘that coat’s very nice’. So I’m not going to start throwing around compliments I don’t mean. But I’m going to be less backward in advertising nice thoughts. I’m pretty sure this will be a sneaky route to feeling sunnier in general.

I began this yesterday at my gig, but really badly. It was a corporate awards thing (the Institute of Customer Service Awards, in fact. Waitrose were among the winners). The photographer had had a terrible day, her laptop had been stolen and she wasn’t going to get home until 2am. She’d had a baby four months ago and mentioned how tired she was. She was very pretty in an unassuming way and I was tempted to say something to the effect that she didn’t look as tired as she claimed to be. Shyness stopped me from doing so. So I ended up complimenting of the organisers on how well the event had gone, and telling Chris Addison over Twitter how much of an influence he’d been on my career. They both seemed pleased. But imagine how much more pleased the exhausted, discouraged photographer would have been.

So that’s me: a compliment a day in addition to my other TYSICers. You might like to try this, or if not this, some other small resolution once a day. One thing about some of the TYSICs nominated is that they are enormous, difficult tasks, and some challengers have been too daunted by the scale of their own ambition to get started properly. Perhaps setting yourself a small one-a-day target is a way in to something bigger.

Also, thanks to everyone for their reviews of crisps, Glee, Sophie Dahl, and so on (see yesterday’s blog). We’ve had nearly 100. Keep them coming and I will collate the results shortly.

Also also (my personal phrase for one also on top of another). This is a more minor undertaking than the reviews, but I was thinking it would be nice to collect people’s eavesdroppings. As you might gather from my stand-up shows, forthcoming novel and general ramblings, I’m a little bit obsessed by the way that all our lives have an effect on each other, even on people we don’t even know. One of the constant reminders of this is when you hear a tiny little bit of someone else’s conversation: a few seconds’ glimpse into a world you will never meet properly, but can still imagine.

So today, for example, I was crossing the road with the wife and baby, and we heard a blonde lady on the phone say ‘I’m so excited about your blood tests, man!’ What was the story? A friend with a disease who’d just been given the all clear? A relative who had just started working for the NHS? Impossible to know, and that’s what it makes it fun. If you overhear anyone say anything funny/suggestive/peculiar, share it with this blog and we will try to work out what was going on. I won’t use any of them on stage. Unless they’re too good to resist.

Right. So post something you’ve overheard; give someone a compliment or do something similar every day; review yesterday’s subjects;  or failing all that, keep living your life as before. See you tomorrow.

63 Responses

  1. Misha says:

    To date the best snippet of conversation I’ve ever overheard was simple “And he was bare like Stevie Wonder man.” All the more wonderful coming from two scary looking skin head chavs.

    Today I eavesdropped on the librarians and learnt that the friend of one of our teachers (recently dead) had also died. And that one ladies daughter had moved back in with her because her flatmate and flatmates boyfriend weren’t doing their share of the washing up.

  2. Katie says:

    I once overheard someone turn to their girlfriend on Buchanan street in Glasgow and say, “Y’know what, love? Am heavy chokin’ fur a shite”. The very childish part of my brain liked this and I laughed all the way home.

    Also, lovely blog, Mark. I do look forward to the next!

  3. Joanna says:

    First of all: excellent blog as always :)

    Secondly: Overheard in town, one middle-aged lady to another: “Your lads’ll love it; her top’ll be right down ‘ere. She’s basically got her knockers out.”

  4. trbabe says:

    When shopping with my daughter on Christmas Eve last year the guy in front of us in a queue was on the phone to his wife/girlfriend. We couldn’t stop giggling when he said “I can’t get one, it’s the big thing this year – It’s nearly as big as your ass!” Don’t know what her reaction was… xx

  5. Alex says:

    Two rah (very posh people, for those who don’t know) boys walking down the road…

    Rah 1: “…he was pretty upset so he just did a poo on it”
    Rah 2: “Oh right”

    I thought I’d misheard until my mum started laughing uncontrollably.

  6. Daniel says:

    First I really like the thought of give out a compliment a day and will follow it on myself, so may I compliment you on your blog and your idea

    Also I heard the over day someone tell their friend they were ‘quite rapable’, which I think is a compliment

  7. Alice says:

    Overheard in between scare rooms in the Warwick Castle Dungeon:

    American twentysomething to her boyfriend: ‘Next year we’re going to Paris. There’s Disneyland in Paris!’

  8. Rachel says:

    I have two favourite eavesdrop things:

    First one on a train from Reading to London two middle class ladies:
    “He was impotent so he gave up alcohol. Sally’s a lot happier now.”

    In Edinburgh a girl on the phone as I walked past her:
    “Well as long as you don’t dress me up as a lesbian santa again.”

  9. h2osarah says:

    I don’t know if this counts as an eavesdropped conversation, but here it is.
    My best friend and I were walking along when we passed a couple with a toddler (no more than 4 years old) walking the other way. As we approached the family, the little boy gave my friend and I the most angry glare I’ve ever received, pointed at us, and said very loudly “I DON’T LIKE THEM!”. The look on the mother’s face was priceless as she said “Don’t say that!” to her son. I held back my laughter until we passed the family, but I couldn’t breathe for laughing the whole walk home.
    My compliment is for that little boy. I have no idea what my friend and I did/said/looked like to offend him so much, but his amazing honesty and inappropriateness made my week. I’m still laughing several months later.

  10. James Walker says:

    I love doing this. Today, I overheard one jogger say to another jogger.

    ‘..I’m going to steam the fish; want to get it right this time’

    What happened before? It obviously didn’t go to plan. I hope the steaming works better, for Jogger #1.

    My friend & I have also been known to talk loudly whilst passing large crowds, with sentences that are bound to grab the attention of the public. Very (very) childish, but quite fun to think about what may be going through their heads.

    eg. ‘…Why did he put the Jam there!?; he’s been thrown out now.’

  11. Gareth says:

    Coincidentally I’ve just been writing about eavesdropping (well, spying) on my blog. I won’t regurgitate it all here, but if curious please click on my name. No pressure.

    Accidental eavesdropping is always a joy. Working in Bath in my gap year, I overheard the following in a single day:

    Baby: (incoherent burbling)
    Mother: No, it’s called a stealth *fighter*.

    Toddler: What does a pig eat when it’s hungry?
    Mother: I don’t know.
    Toddler: A apple.

    Loud woman, strong Somerset accent, on mobile: I’M ON THE BATH TO BUS.

  12. Marie says:

    I once overheard a little kid cry, quite distraughtly, to his mother as she stepped away from him in a shop: ‘Mum! Don’t forget me again!’

    Needless to say, she told him to ‘ssh’ quite quickly.

  13. Julie says:

    Ispend a large portion of my working day listening out for interesting ‘overheards’ [I have a page of my blog dedicated to them:

    My most recent was yesterday morning. Male student “I actually have *no* clean clothes on”.

    And one of my all time favourites was a mobile phone conversation conducted by a woman in the toilet cubile next to mine:
    “I’ve had a bikini wax…”
    “I wanted a Brazilian…”
    “She doesn’t do them…”
    “She did her equivalent…”
    “Well, it’s straighter than it was.”


  14. Overheard in Oxford, one tourist to another, about four years ago: “I like Baroque music, but for some reason I’ve never got on with Baroque architecture.”

    That cheers me every time I think about it.

    (Actually, on reflection, it was probably the other way around. I think she did like the music, but didn’t get on with the architecture, but I think it’s funnier that way…)

  15. Melissa says:

    Things i’ve overheard at Glastonbury Music Festival over the years:

    “Look, i’m sorry alright, obviously i didn’t know i was going to follow through”

    “Basically my education cost more than his house”

    “Where am i? I feel asleep under the giant snail”

    “Do the one we know and Fuck off”

    “I feel like i’m in a Stonehenge film”

  16. Chris says:

    Whilst I’m trying to recall any funny conversations that I’ve overheard, I reckon this headline can give you at least 15-20 mins material alone :)

  17. Jill says:

    In link to the blood test eavesdrop, an old school friend of mine recently posted on her facebook page – for ALL TO SEE – as her status:
    “Chlamydia tests today” followed by ‘a sad face’.
    What does this mean? She’s gotten them already and they’re not good? She’s getting them and she’s worried? Or maybe she got them and was disappointed by the lack of chlaymdia/ lollipop in the envelope?

    I often overhear conversations of loud drunkards passing by my house in the evenings. Most recently, it was “NAH MATE, YOU AIN’T GETTING NAFFIN.” (That’s not a cockney accent. It’s mancunian. Think Shameless)
    Last week, it was: “But I don’t understand! Why would there be a fox?!”
    And a while ago, a group of schoolgirls walking home past my house were heard to say: “Isn’t she? Or is it a he? I couldn’t tell with that thing on…”

  18. Anji says:

    Today has been so stressful but while waiting at the vets, which is inside a pets at home store. A lady pushing a trolly went to the check out with a trolly load of pet food.
    ” that’s what I need to feed my 2 cats, 3 dogs and 10 puppies”.
    It doesn’t leave much to work out, but more that I suddenly felt rather daft with one poorly pup!

  19. Adele says:

    Today I overheard someone in my office say “yeah, turd-munching is a concern”. Really. I should add that I work with dogs so it’s not quite as scary as it seems. But still.

    I haven’t undertaken the ‘compliment someone every day’ task as I’m actually very good at that. What I’m going to do is to say exactly what’s on my mind at least once a day seeing as I’m useless at dealing with other peoples strong opinions and normally employ the ‘just agree with them to keep the peace’ tactic.

  20. Misha says:

    Realised I forgot to add something on compliments.
    My boss (a lovely lady but weirdly reminiscent of Sandi Toksvig) is very big on compliments. However she once said to me, after complimenting two kids on their choice of outfit for non-uniform day that “it’s nice to compliment them even if you don’t mean it, it makes them feel good.”
    I’ve never quite been able to trust her since when she says nice things to me.

  21. Hannah says:

    Its not technically eavesdropping, but a few years ago my little brother made up a joke and repeated it evey other day, at least. He was about 9 at the time…
    Q. Why did the one hundred and one year old bee sting itself?
    A. Because it was the wrong way round.

  22. Robert says:

    Walking down the stairs of a double decker bus was a young boy holding the hand of, I presume, his mother. He wiped the condensation off the window, looked out at Brixton and said “This doesn’t look like our world. This isn’t our world. This is Coronation Street. Why did you bring me to Coronation Street?”

    I’d love to have heard where that one went.

  23. Sarah Morgan says:

    Re: Eavesdropping. I mentioned this on twitter before, but I overheard an extremely posh tramp on the tube the other day (tweed jacket, inexplicable white rayban wayfarer sunglasses – like Peter Cook’s Athur Streeb Greebling gone to seed)

    The train doors were closed when I got the platform, then opened again (joy!) so I jumped on, sat down a few feet from this bloke. The carriage was half empty. The doors opened again, and closed again. And again. Each time, there was the standard ‘mind the doors’ message. By the 5th time everyone in the carriage was pissed off (I was running late for a funeral, but that’s another story). This bloke looked up, and to no one in particular, bellowed:

    “Mind the doors! Mind the fucking doors! Reminds you of that actress, Diana Dors! She’s going to come running in here in a minute, with her big fucking tits.”

    He is my new God.

  24. amycool says:

    I’ve just sat laughing my head off at all of these. I am cursed with a non-eavesdropping boyfriend, so whenever I hear something hilarious and turn to him for a mutual moment of happiness, he says, “What? What are you laughing at?” really loudly. :-)

    I was once at a bus stop and heard two teenagers talking. The male teenager said to the female, “If you go for a McDonalds at 1 in the morning, it’ll make you fat, but if you go in the afternoon, the guy at the gym said you’ll burn off the calories”. The female said “Really? I might start doing that then” in the dumbest voice in the world. :-)

    As for compliments, they make my face very red either way. Someone at work once said, “That coat really suits you” and instead of saying “Thank you”, I said, “My Mum bought it”. As for giving them, I tend to say stupid things like, “Your hair is shorter” instead of “I like your new hairstyle”. I’m socially inept to the max.

    My mini-goal this week is to learn to live with silences. It has come to my attention that my colleagues are getting annoyed with my incessant jabbering. I only have on and off when it comes to talking, no dimmer switch. So I have to try not to sit in silence all day, but also not to talk constantly. Instead I am endeavouring to ask more questions and to try not to squirm whenever there’s silence for more than 1 second.

  25. Rachael says:

    Complimenting people always makes me feel more awkward than good, I might give it a whirl though.
    Also, the battery ran out on my mp3 player recently so I had no choice but to listen to 2 old ladies talking, they were talking about another woman that is often on the bus and really, really stinks (i mean enough to make you feel sick for a good few hours). One of the old ladies said to the other “I won’t sit in that front seat anymore in case she’s sat there”.

  26. Bloomability (Beth) says:

    A twist on the eavesdropping: Me and one of my best friends have decided to keep quote diaries for each other, just writing down little snippets of conversation or other funny/interesting stuff the other said. We’ll be giving these to each other on the closest birthday to the diary being full, so I thought I’d just comment with Daisy’s odd quotes of the day.
    “It’s shiny ‘cuz it’s a star. Deal with it!”
    “That looks like the nostrils of a rhino.”
    “It’s furry and round. Sometimes with a little bit of tinsel and cake. Lecker!”

    Oh, the fun we have in science lessons ^_^

  27. Lauren says:

    One of my favourite phrases that I’ve overheard was someone saying ‘So now I always make sure I carry a spare chicken around with me!’ on the train back from Bristol once… yeah, no idea.

    Also overheard two old ladies bitching about their friend on the bus: ‘And then she crept back in and turned the heating up to 20… EVEN THOUGH SHE CLAIMS SHE’S BLIND!’

  28. Robyn says:

    about eavesdropping, the best thing I heard was whilst waiting to cross the road the other day one . One posh guy said to another – ‘I just really hate people that live in small houses!’

  29. Corey says:

    I’ve had a few eavesdropping moments, heres a couple I can remember:

    In a supermarket a couple came wandering past me in the cheese aisle:

    Husband: ”Doris, can you stick some of that Dutch cheese in t’trolly?”
    Wife (Doris): ”Are you mad, not after last time!”

    What the hell happened last time!?!

    On a small 20 seater plane from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, a woman aged 60ish sat next to her presumed husband:

    Woman (looking at husband who was obviously scared of flying): ”Don’t worry Brian, these planes rarely crash!,….we won’t die anyway….I told you what to do!”
    Man: ”Can you just shut up please!?”

    Had she told him the best way to survive an air crash???

  30. I think the best posted on here so far is Robert’s, made me so happy for so long.

    I do this far too often but can’t bring a good one to mind at this point. One of my friends’ is “I can’t believe he slept with him on his wedding-night”. If I remember one I’ll come back and tell you.

  31. Someone says:

    Haha, those are all great. I can never remember hilarious things i hear… I shall have to start carrying a clipboard down the highstreet.
    Compliments though… I hate compliments. If someone says something nice to me, i guess i presume they’re being sarcastic or mean, so i either scowl at them, or awkwardly try to change the subject… but you kind of feel like you have to say something back if you don’t know them too well, and I’m rubbish at that too! like ‘oh yeah, i like yours too!’ which just sounds so false even if it’s meant. Or if people are talking about how fat they are, right… I can’t bring myself to say ‘oh you’re not!’ or ‘i’m fatter.’ even if i’m thinking it, so it just turns into an awkward silence where they’re hating me for, essentially, being socially inept. Compliments should be banned. Or I should.

  32. Gabi says:

    My favourite place to eavesdrop is on the train. People seem to see this as the most appropriate place to engage in meaningful, deep conversation and last week I heard one man shout to his beefcake of a friend ‘You know Gary, my face is unusually smooth!’. I like to imagine this statement came as a result as a weekend of a girlfriend away and a bathroom cabinet full of products, and a bottle of Olay 7 signs of ageing was just too good to resist

  33. Jo pratt says:

    Re compliments, I always have the urge to tell road sweepers that I really appreciate their work as it makes the world nicer for everyone. But I’m terrified – with good reason – that it will sound really patronising so I’ve never done it. *gnaws fist*

  34. Gareth says:

    I’d forgotten about trains. A much needed haven for the clinically strange. I once witnessed a conversation between a mother and daughter, Essex accents, which culminated in the daughter saying, entirely good-naturedly, “Well, you can shove it right up your fuckin’ anus!”

    Also a young female exec, trouser suit, saying in the middle of a phone conversation: “Oh, did I tell you about my dad? He’s dead. I think it was his lifestyle. He was a whisky-drinking, cocaine-snorting womaniser.” Her comic timing was excellent.

  35. werwolf says:

    While walking through the bus station attached to Heathrow airport I cringed as that all too familiar, nasal, American accent came wafting loudly towards me: “But I’m talking about a train!” The very patient customer service agent this lummox was yelling at tried very hard to explain that they were in a bus station, hence all the buses. I wanted to intervene in the spirit of international relations and rip my countryman a new one for being yet another ugly obnoxious American, but I was held back by my much more polite British partner.

  36. Megan says:

    This is an overheard thing turned annoying observation/rant, so apologies in advance:

    A few days ago, at the pub, I eavesdropped a bit on an (at-first) awkward first date (couldn’t help it, really, as the guy was loud and the space cramped). Deeply Tedious Man described, at length, to his lady friend the difference between soda and tonic water, different levels of ‘doneness’ of meat, and various other completely boring/inane things. Then he picked up a copy of The Ottawa Sun (which is almost as klassy as The Sun in the UK) to look for something in the movie listings and read it (silently) with his lips moving.

    The worrying bit is that she was RIVETED and looked at him like he was the smartest man she had ever met (which, who knows, he may have been). Now, I’m single and I know it’s hard dating out there, but what was that?

    Who knows, maybe a pedant who moves his lips when he reads is just what I need for myself.

    In a disgusting medical vein (no pun intended, seriously), I overheard, from inside my house, a conversation from a couple of mums walking to pick their kids up from school. The only bit I caught clearly was “Well, the nurse said she’d need blood and urine samples, so I said, since there was blood in my urine, couldn’t I just give the one sample?”


    Cinema’s not open yet. I might have a less gross/funnier story later.

  37. Issey says:

    in an internet cafe overheard someone say:
    ‘this computer’s filtering everything i search, i wonder what will happen if i search water’

  38. Anna says:

    Hmm, compliments. I’m not very good at being nice to people, but I’m going to try and say something nice to my husband every day. At the moment, he’s lucky if I’m nice to him once a week.
    I’m not surprised so many couples split up in the first year of having a baby, because it gets to the point where you’re just so tired, confused and (in the woman’s case) hormonal that you forget how to be civil to the person that you decided to reproduce with. You get so caught up in looking after this small person that has arrived and turned your lives upside down that you lose sight of being part of a couple. But, in another 9 days, we will have survived the first year (just), and it’s time I started treating him nicely. Because I do love him, and I need to show him that.
    This probably isn’t the best thing to write on the blog of somebody with a very young baby, is it?

  39. Corey says:

    Have been reminded of some other eavesdropping conversations I have heard:

    Our 2 elderly cleaners at work:

    Cleaner 1: I need to put me lottery numbers on for sat-days draw

    Cleaner 2: I don’t play that,…….. I’ve never been good at maths!

    Double Glazing salesman stopping people leaving the supermarket:

    Salesman (to dumbfounded woman): These windows are that good, looking through glass will never be the same again!

  40. Lynsey says:

    I once overheard a middle aged chav woman tell someone rather loudly that she had left her bra on the bus. I assumed, or rather hoped that it was one that she had just bought.

  41. Anna says:

    Once on a bus I overheard two elderly ladies talking, just as I was getting off one of them said:
    “Well, they’re no good to him now. Not as legs anyway.”

  42. Anna says:

    This is something my friend heard a small child say when collecting cutlery for school lunch. Picking up a 3 pronged fork the child exclaimed: “Look, a threek!”

  43. Corey says:

    And on the train (again) from London I was sat behind a group of 4 women and they were having such a great conversation I didn’t want to get off. I think they were 2 friends who had each brought a friend and they were heading for Sheffield for a Cliff Richard concert. Snippets below:

    Jean: I go dancing every week without fail!

    Woman 2: How do you get your wheelchair in the building Jean?

    Then later:

    Woman: What does your daughter do?
    Woman 2: I haven’t got a daughter!?!
    Woman: Who was that earlier then?
    Woman 2: That was my cleaner
    Woman: Oh, what does she do?
    Woman 2: Shes a cleaner!
    Woman: Oh.

    And finally:

    Woman: People think I’m extravagant with money as I’m always eating at the Ritz, but what they don’t realize is, you can get lunch there for less than £100!!
    Woman 2: Ummmm

  44. Jo says:

    Was reading these comments earlier thinking how do these people remember such random things?? But lucky me! I’ve just been out to get a coffee and overheard the following (early 20s girl talking to two similarly aged boys): “My grandpa said that when I’m ready to find a man, I’ve got to go off the pill completely to make my hormones…..”

  45. Like your thinking there, Mark! The idea of taking TYSICs laterally and in bitty-bits is great, and particularly when linking self-improvement to making the world a better / nicer place. Not sure what I may choose as my own daily mini-challenge: will ponder further. I did like Anna’s idea of saying something nice to her husband everyday – might do something similar.

    No eavesdropping morsels to report – but I am now on the lookout!

  46. ElizabethD says:

    I spent a (bordering on insane) amount of time thinking about this and then realized that a nicer person would have seen this answer much sooner. The combination of this whatever-you-do-don’t-call-it-a-Depression thing and a few badly timed health problems (hooray for health care reform!) has meant moving back in with my folks. We’re building a separate apartment for me, but in the meantime we’re demonstrating a remarkable talent for getting on each other’s nerves. I’m doing my bit to contribute to the smooth running of the house, but I’m feeling inspired to do a bit more. So, I’ve decided that since they are continuing to support me as I try to complete my TYSIC challenge to make something of myself as a playwright, it should be part of my TYSIC to do some small nice thing for them every day that I don’t call attention to. (Household chores, cooking meals and the like doesn’t count as that falls under the category of stuff I should be doing anyway). Today’s little kindness: I saw this morning that there was enough milk for my cereal or my mother’s coffee, but not both. I can’t bear dry cereal unless it’s granola. Ate my cereal dry and pretended it was granola.

  47. Alison says:

    It`s nice to hear someone encouraging everyone to be more pleasant. It seems to me that trying to make people feel better about themselves is extremely old-fashioned whereas I was brought up to do just that. I thought Mark Watson seemed like a really nice guy when I saw him on TV, I`m glad he really is. I will make an extra special effort to pay compliments now.

  48. Sarah says:

    I was waiting for my class to start the other day and the girl across from me was on the phone. Her conversation went something like this
    You’re wrong
    You’re wrong)
    Now, someone stold my shoes
    stupid bitch
    hello? HELLO?

    She puts down the phone, a few seconds later it rings and she answers

    Why you hang up on me?

  49. Sam says:

    The best thing I ever overheard was outside of a bar at 1am. Two young men stumbled out, and one grabbed the other putting his arm around his shoulders and said “Listen mate, if you don’t want to be called gay, stop sleeping with Dale Winton.” I have no idea what conversation they might have been having, or what strange lives they might lead.
    Also one night in Southampton I was walking along when a group of girls passed us and one very loudly said “I can’t believe it’s nine o’clock and I haven’t got my fucking tits out yet!”

  50. Isabelle says:

    On Tuesday, I passed a man with a long umbrella, poking it at a [presumed] friend who turned to ask “where ARE you?” and then “where are YOU?” Only now do I realise the brolly wielder may have been invisible.

    Also hullo, etc.

  51. Kate says:

    Giving someone a compliment every day’s a lovely idea; even from a complete stranger, I do think it’s always appreciated. (I enjoyed Mark’s exchange of compliments with Chris Addison via Twitter very much – genuinely brightened my day!)
    If you find giving compliments tough/insincere, you could try thanking someone instead or letting them go first. I occassionally have a random acts of kindness day; tiny kindnesses, but letting people go ahead of me, saying thanks, holding doors open etc does seem to produce greater cheerfulness. I’m stopping now, before I turn into Pollyanna….

  52. Anji says:

    The compliments thing has got me thinking I should work at giving them! I get so tounge tied when someone is nice to me:
    them: happy birthday
    me: you too! Errrr
    not quite the way. I ended up thanking someone at the vets the other day when they said my dig was lovely, how ok’d is she. Thank you is a new age, ok?!
    So I will work harder on being more confident and therefore able to compliment others and accept what is said to me!

  53. Sue says:

    I was with my teenage daughter tonight browsing around the ladies underwear section of Target and I overheard a voice in the next aisle. “I have to get the big supported ones or they bounce out.” I had to run away to laugh out of earshot. :)

    As for compliments I’ve had a few this week; they made me feel lovely. I went for an interview (and got the job!) I was told later by the agency that the prospective employers had found me ‘delightful and quirky’.

  54. EmmaT says:

    Walking into interesting conversations seems to be my forte…I just went to make some tea, walked back into the office and walked into the conversation just as my friend said “right breast”… quite loudly as well.

  55. Hannah says:

    My husband walked past a vicar saying ‘soooo, I kept that one quiet obviously’ while tapping his nose…

  56. Lynsey says:

    This from an old woman who was in my workplace today:

    “I don’t drink, but I have a glass of wine sometimes.”

  57. Hannah says:

    Overheard at uni yesterday:

    “Yeah, but my neighbour is really old. I think she’s on her way out: she can’t reverse her car anymore.”

  58. Megan says:

    Many days later, I overheard this from a customer on his mobile in the balcony of the cinema (before the film started):

    “You have to let it go. You have to let it go. Your loss is your gain. Your loss is MY gift.”

    Creepy. Ran downstairs right quick.

  59. Matthew says:

    Grossiest Eavesdropping ever:
    Characters: 4 very posh girls fresh out of uni, working in PR in London.
    Setting: A Very busy Manchester Piccadilly to Euston express train.
    Eaves Dropping: The full in depth discussion of one girls sexual encounter with a guy she’d only just met, in a bush in a park, followed up by slagging off their collective bosses by name.

    My ponderance: Are they morons? There were easily 80 odd people who could hear every word they were saying.

  60. Laura B says:

    I am very excited and honoured. Partly because you took inspiration from me. Partly because you wrote a blog about it. Partly because the title of the blog is one of my favourite Brendon Burns quotes and a way I try to live my life.
    Big smiles!

  61. Laura B says:

    Also, one of my favourite overheard conversations was on a train. A woman was saying how since the credit crunch began, more people have been reading the works of Karl Marx. Her smug theory on this was that he wrote “Mein Kampf”, which means “My Struggle” and people are struggling in the credit crunch.

    There was a really long awkward pause before her companion pointed out that it was Hitler, not Marx, who wrote “Mein Kampf”.

    Good times…

  62. Knox says:

    I love the thought that Brendon Burns has read the qur’an – i don’t know why, but that blows my mind a little, just picturing it… and the distillation is perfect too – though not sure how that’d go down as a sermon at the local mosque. though actually, given nigerian accents people would probably be like: ‘what did he say? try not to be too much of account today? oh-ho – wise words!’, so, not so exciting after all.

    i like the compliment thing. people do get really pleased when you compliment them genuinely, and there’s a definite warm glow thing for you in return. another thing i try to do (probably from having worked about two weeks in a call centre) is attempt to always be nice, or at least polite, to call centre workers. and especially to tell someone if you feel they’ve been particularly heplful and/or friendly and/or nice. it’s like getting a virtual hug when their tone becomes all pleased.
    and lastly, remembering and using people’s names when you ring customer service, and they help you. my sister works on a couple of helplines, and she says it’s always nice when people actually remember her name at the end of a call, she doesn’t feel so much like just another drone.

  63. Knox says:

    can’t think of any overheard snippets at the moment, except for one from years ago, travelling up to edinburgh – a man encouraging his son to pull out a wobbly tooth: ‘look, i’ll count you in, then you just pull on three. one…two…three… well done – oh yes, it is bleeding a bit…’

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