ONE of my favourite comedy sketches is an episode of One Foot in the Grave in which Victor Meldrew is stuck in a traffic jam with his wife and and her best mate Mrs Warboys.
He’s sitting at the wheel while his wife and her pal witter on about the most inane of subjects. He does his best to ignore them, but finds himself drawn into the conversation when it becomes too absurd.
In this case, they’re talking about (if memory serves me correctly) a man whose arm is in a cast.
He resists interrupting right up to the pay off line when the woman reveals “and when they took the cast off … his arm wasn’t there! It had vanished.”
When the truth of the statement isn’t questioned, it proves too much and he explodes.
I hope I’m not being sexist, but I find women were born to talk.
Put a load of blokes who have never met each other before in a room and, unless they’ve been drinking, there’s likely to be much staring at feet and little conversation.
Put a similar bunch of women in the room and they’ll chatter until common ground can be found.
I mention this because of the strange relationship my wife and I have when it comes to conversations. She expects me to listen in to all of hers, even when I’m not part of them.
Only last week she revealed we were going to a 40th birthday party.
“You didn’t mention it,” I said.
“Yes I did,” my wife explained. “I told my mother.”
“I’m not your mother,” I said.
“I know,” she said, “but you were in the room when I told her.”
Men, clearly, are expected to gather their information by osmosis.
I had a Victor moment when my wife went to have a foot operation last month.
She was nervous about having the sole of her foot injected with anaesthetic.
“Could be worse,” I said. “It could be happening to me!” It didn’t help.
Before I knew it she’s in full conversation with one of the hospital receptionists.
I was caught in the waiting room crossfire as they yakked on about injections, pain-thresholds, holidays, home births, etc.
During one brief break in the dialogue, I whispered: “Do you know her?”
“No,” she said. “We’re just chatting.”
And so it went on with me trying to read a dog-eared copy of some running magazine left lying about and avoiding eye-contact with anyone else in the room.
The conversation continued unabated with the receptionist, who assured my wife that having an injection in her foot wouldn’t hurt.
“I’ve had my foot tattooed and that wasn’t too painful,” she said. I tried desperately not to listen.
“What part of your foot,” my wife asked.
“The sole of my foot,” she said (would they notice if I read the magazine with my hands over my ears?).
“I had to have it tattooed twice,” she added. “Because the tattoo was on the sole of my foot, it wore off with all the walking about I do. So I had to have it done again.”
I could no longer keep out of it.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I have two questions: Why would you have a tattoo on the underside of you foot? And what was it of?”
“Well,” the receptionist said, “I had it on the sole of my foot because if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to look at it.”
I got a dig in the ribs for my troubles and my wife continued the conversation. “That’s a great idea,” she said.
“When you’re sunbathing on your front you can show the tattoo off ...”
Bizarre. And for the record, it was a tattoo of a dragon.