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Overheard in Brighton

An afternoon out in Brighton is always an educational experience. Of particular note last weekend were the fragments of conversations we heard.

Two young ladies in a café, one asks the other:

Are you in a relationship?

I didn’t hear the answer. I wondered the context. Why the enquiry? Was it her friend? If she’s a friend, why doesn’t she know that already? If not, why did she ask?

Our society recognises the value of friendship and family but seems to have lost the commitment to protect family and friends by shaping love in the way God wants us to.

On the other side of the café a professional looking woman is talking with a man who she seems to know quite well. I think she is not “in a relationship” with him. She relates how a client was

“disappointed when I told her I don’t chant.”

I am wondering… was it choir practice? I think not. Yoga, or something new age, more likely.

We tolerate all kinds of spirituality except the real kind.

In the most unlikely place for this this conversation, a wool shop, we hear about a wayward daughter. The pretty blonde lady says to her friend:

“Her Father’s in Spain. She just ran out of the house. Came back later and slammed the door and went to her bedroom without a word. I told her that she needed to realise that anything could have happened. She could have been bundled into a car and abducted or raped. She needs to learn.”

Was it her daughter or perhaps a step-daughter? Why did she run away? Is this a major incident or a brief family row? You get all kinds of people in a wool shop, not just Women’s Own readers. There are all kinds of sadness in people’s lives. They are trying to cope with it. They are trying to be wise about bringing up their children but there are few good role models and they don’t ask God’s advice.

Finally, in Waterstones: A cheerful lady climbing to the top floor of this extensive book shop says:

“I can’t read anything depressing.”

I guess in the context it was about her choice of books and she was just stating a general preference but I mused on whether this was a medical condition, like lactose intolerance. Or perhaps it was a rule for life. I speculated on how long you could last without reading anything depressing. A week? What about the news, a bill, or a letter from a relative with sad news? Can you avoid the most obvious realities? I think we all try.

At the till a man about my age served me, looking very serious. Unhelpfully, I said

“cheer up, home time soon”

to which he just answered with an rueful “yes” and looked even sadder. He was obviously not avoiding life’s realities, whatever they were for him.

And so we could go on making observations and speculations from these fragments.

Thank God it’s not like that with him. We don’t have to piece together the God story from a few overheard conversation fragments and try and make up the rest. God has spoken to us clearly and comprehensively.

The question is, are you listening to him?


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