Friday, 16 March 2012

Nearly complete

Here's an odd thing about being home. One of my senses has dulled.

At first I wondered if my hearing was kaput, so I listened hard for birdsong and traffic noise and people talking as they walked together along the street.

I followed the sparrow, frowned at the car alarm, and eavesdropped on Mavis. (I'd have him put down, with a bladder problem like that.) Then no, not hearing.

I wondered if it was taste. Dig said that life lived in airplanes can do that to a person. But PG Tips and Hob Nobs taste just the same to me.

Sight? Well, I'm appreciating the shadow and light slipping about the walls. Maybe too much. Yes, it's becoming odd, my habit of staring at the wall, but I can't help myself. After the concrete of Hong Kong I can't get enough of the texture of England. The slopes and slants of light, passing slowly bright to dark across the bumps and grain of plaster, wood, brick, is quite addictive. It fixes me in a mystic trance. Sometimes I want my fingertips to stroke the wall as the light shows up the minute crumble of old horsehair plaster. So we can eliminate touch, too.

And smell. No, not that. I know it, for I'm sniffing the pomegranate perfumes of gift soap, Sapone al Melograno, effusing in my knicker drawer.

Maybe there is some other sense called English. Somewhere an intuition or a shared understanding in me got blunted. Perhaps I'm looking at the street and I'm reading it with all the wrong rules, and wrong assumptions and judgements.

It must be that. I began to be think so when I found I broke the law in Tesco. A woman customer hissed frosty words at the back of my head, something about it being nice to be patient.

In my defence, I thought I was doing normal walking behaviour. Maybe normal for Hong Kong; weaving your way through a crowded street, making no concessions for the elderly, infirm, or the beggar outside Wan Chai station. What a stupid place to sit! Of course I didn't mean to kick him. But you have to! There are six million people to get past. But I learn it's not okay to do that weave routine here, around the OAPs inspecting the sugar in the cooking aisle.

So my missing sense could be this. I need to relearn the intuitions of my behaviour; English in England, rather than ex-pat English in Hong Kong. The two are very different.

I must reacquire the ability to tut more, shuffle, and sigh while standing in queues. I must remember to raise my eyebrows while waiting at the bank, sure in the knowledge that everyone around me will understand that to be a satirical comment on the finance industry. And I should reinvigorate my dysfunctional relationship with my own wardrobe, which will result in me gaining six pounds around my middle, which I can then disguise by shapeless fleece leisure clothing. Once I have attained these, I can move on to the higher levels of English achievement, by becoming embarrassed and awkward around all social greetings and partings, including who steps first through the door of the Co-op.

Ah, soon I will have all senses intact, then it will feel good to be home.


MadameSmokinGun said...

Maybe you've just forgotten the true Englishness of Old People's Place in the Supermarket. They GO there especially to tut at people. It makes their day. Once you've got back into the swing of filling a rucksack with food, waters, plasters, wet wipes, spare clothes, bug-catching devices, mushroom-spotting books, suncream, waterproofs etc etc you'll not be so worried about knocking out a few slow-moving snow-tops everytime you nip in for some extra Ritz crackers. It's be your right of way - you have a mission to complete and so do the Old People. The last thing you need is to attempt to make friends with these types or they'll be leading you to the Rich Tea FINGERS display with that special glint in their eye. This is always best avoided. Now, as you were...

Ruth said...

I agree with Madame
SmokingGun. The OAP in our supermarket are the rudest people I have ever come across. They ram their mobility scooters into the backs off people's legs and block up the aisle then get annoyed if you have the audacity to say "Excuse me." One particular pair I moved passed had the cheek to say "We didn't hear a thank you." I resisted the urge to say turn you hearing aid up then LOL. I honestly think it should be like lane swimming and they are their scooters should be given a special slot ;)

Irene said...

Try to stay fiercely independent and somewhat rude, Grit. I like the way you present yourself. I'd hate to think of you trapped in a veneer of British politeness which is very artificial anyway. There are no ruder Europeans than the Dutch, but at least we're honest.

kelly said...

I find that since moving to Wales, my English manners are appalling. You never go into a shop and just buy milk. You have to have a conversation with the person serving you and the person behind you in the queue.

And OAPS in Supermarkets can be a rather scary ordeal for anyone!

Liz said...

Welcome back Grit.

Took my little onion to the park today only to run into a bunch of school kids on a trip. Apparently it's English manners to ignore the girl dressed in football kit with messy hair when she tries to play with you and shout at the other kids to do it too.

Poor thing was running around shouting 'no one will play with me'. So I did.

Grit said...

thank you for your comments people. i have been thinking of myself as elderly recently, what with the desperate need of hair colour and a pair of hips that don't hurt. i'll soon be back into the culture and nothing will seem odd at all.