There is beauty in the mundane. Whilst driving to the northeast, I tuned into a local radio phone-in (around Peterborough, I think it was) and the subjects for discussion were wicker and cauliflower. You could ring in to share your thoughts about either topic, or both, if you had woven a wicker display cabinet for your cauliflowers. The phone lines were red hot as old gentleman after old gentleman queued up to offer their pearls about both subjects. Cauliflower cheese was a popular gambit. Rubbish bins figured large. I could picture these old guys mulling over their views on their baskets and veg and reaching for the phone, knowing they had something to bring to the table.
A similar glimpse into a stranger’s life can be provided by a discarded shopping list found in the bottom of a supermarket trolley – jaffa cakes, cough syrup, yogs (smooth). Someone coming for tea? Comfort eating during a cold? This stuff is magic. Simultaneously ordinary and intimate, mind-blowingly dull and fascinating.
Equally, I found myself nodding in agreement during a radio 4 discussion. Not the situation in Syria, no, but the problem of how to use shower gel effectively if you don’t like flannels. Yes, I thought, that is a conundrum. The majority of it does end up down the plughole. The following presenter, John Humphries, sniffed that it must have been a slow news day for such trivia to be dwelt on but I disagree. It’s just as relevant to our lives as ‘current events’ are.
The minutiae of council recycling was central to an exercise written by a participant of The Write Factor’s Absolute Beginners writing course. Not an obvious page-turner, but I found myself thinking: Well that’s a revelation. Her wheelie-bin lid has to be shut for it to be accepted. No flimsy, faux-hessian bags for her. Such nuggets do have value. Alan Bennett was right, it’s the small stuff, the details of life, that chime with us. Anything can become interesting, even cauliflowers.
Image courtesy of: fOtOmoth https://www.flickr.com/photos/gotowefoto/