Don't judge a book by its contents

Sometimes I wonder if I’m all there. I know my wife does and thinks that I seem to daydream my way through life. She’s got a point as it appears that I’m always considering some grand plan or unreasonable (as far as she’s concerned) ambition such as running a bar on a bankrupt Greek Island or becoming a rock star.

But, the truth is, I love to let my mind wander. While not being a particularly creative person, I do enjoy giving my imagination as much free-reign as possible. And I find my meandering mind’s stimulated by people watching. I could quite easily be that sad bloke you see seated in the corner of the pub on his own. You may think I’ve no friends and while you’re probably right, I’m perfectly happy, sitting watching folk; imagining what they’re like, what their aspirations are and how they live.

There’re plenty of other opportunities for such a thing. For a start, I can begin every day crawling along in a traffic jam attempting to get into the small but perfectly formed city of Durham. This gives me the opportunity to look around and wonder what’s going through other people’s minds as they sit there too. It seems there are fewer mobile phones on the go since I got caught a couple of years ago, again stuck in stationary traffic but this time in Newcastle, making a call home to say I’d be late. So with less opportunity to talk, people do less dangerous things such as fiddle with the radio, eat sweets, light cigarettes, pick their noses and apply their makeup – sometimes not all at the same time – and, I suppose, think.

Well what’s going through their minds? It can’t be the same as mine otherwise we’d all be people watching the people watchers until the whole world disappeared up its own analysis.

Of course I’m also fortunate in that I can further my hobby as I’ve got my own restaurant in which to people watch. But I can’t be too obvious or I’d drive those same people away.

But then there’s the supermarket; which could be my favourite place to people watch and I should love it. For a start, I’m lucky in that I’m a bloke and more of the shoppers seem to be women than men. Now it’s not that I’m some sort of pervert, rather that I prefer looking at women. It’s not for nothing that the most famous painting in the world is of one.

I said I “should” love it rather than I do. Stick with me. There’s a classy looking woman pushing her trolley past the cheap chicken. Well that’s all right. She’s obviously been here before and is deliberately spurning the watery, inhumanly-reared stuff classed as A Grade. And she’s made a decision to walk straight past the sweaty bacon. You know the stuff; the sort that leaves brown gunge in your frying pan.

She’s obviously just my type – or so I dream. Smart, independent, well-dressed in a stylish yet subtle way and someone who thinks about what she’s eating. That’s so important to me. I wonder what she’s cooking tonight? Having already passed the vegetables, I assume that she’s obviously stocked up on the freshest seasonal, local produce at a farm shop. Maybe fresh spears of English asparagus or some purple sprouting broccoli and a few fresh herbs?

Being careful not to get arrested, I wonder over and glance expectantly into her trolley to find – white sliced bread, instant flavoured noodles, a tin of stew and some mass-produced cakes. How could I have been so mistaken? Are looks so deceptive?

But then it dawns on me: she’s shopping for a neighbour and is only staying in that street temporarily while waiting for her country cottage to be renovated. What a lovely woman she must be. It just goes to show; you should never judge a book by its cover.

Just because someone doesn’t appreciate what they’re buying, and doesn’t think about what they’re feeding themselves, doesn’t mean they’re not better people. Does it?


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