Saturday, 21 April 2012

Pie and peas for lunch in Keighley Market (and other tales of normal life)

So yes, Kathryn and I had pie and peas for lunch at Charlies caff in Keighley Market. And very nice it was too - embellished with some mint sauce and accompanied by a mug of tea.

Sitting in the market you can watch the world - or rather that bit of the world that finds itself in Keighley on a slightly damp April Saturday - pass by. You pick up little snippets of conversation - mostly mundane, everyday things. Quite often these snippets are meaningless - a conversation about something opening where one doesn't know what that something might be, chatter about friends and family interjected by a knowing little chuckle or a private joke. Today's favourite was a gem - two young women walk past, one speaking into a mobile phone and the little snatch of conversation I hear is:

"Leopard-skin print knicker shorts"

Just that, nothing else - one daren't even turn and stare, mouth hanging open! The very concept of such a garment - what exactly are "knicker shorts" and why would one want them in leopard-skin? But this moment of gobsmackedness passes and we move on through the town going about our private business - shopping, sitting, looking at stuff, listening to the sounds of the town.

All these conversations - little shavings of which we overhear - are serious, are important. Clever folk who want to discuss the great doings of the day - kings and ministers and policies and such - don't always appreciate that it is these little everyday interactions and chatterings that are the atoms of enterprise, the molecules of exchange. The trader understands - or should do - the importance of these banal conversations about kids or dogs or broken fences.

And the governor should understand too - appreciate that, for all the guffle about policy-making, for all the cant about "involving", "engaging" and "consulting", it is these mundane, everyday nothings that are the basis of society, of community. I fear that sadly, those governors do not understand but know better. The market - literally "the market" given where we had our pie and peas - is untidy, disorganised, inconsistent. So we must create - through the medium of public policy - a better system.

The problem is that there isn't one.


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