We have a suite of stories with which we regale our friends. There are stories from the workplace; stories of the family; stories of the neighbours; stories of your own silliness; stories of your past life and so on. They are like a set of folders on the desktop of the mind. Normally in each of your friends one suite of stories, one folder from the desktop, is less popular than the others. For this suite of stories, which the storyteller may think his most popular story, you cut off, you just don’t bother listening. It is often the workplace suite, which may concern people and practices you are unfamiliar with and where the first mention of the word ‘spreadsheet’ or ‘hub’ causes the darkness to fold over your ears.It gets so that when you hear the word ‘spreadsheet’, in what has up until then been an agreable conversation, the light is automatically switched off in your brain. Of course, it might not be the word ‘spreadsheet’ or ‘hub’ that causes this electrical breakdown. It might be the conjunction of two words like ‘cute’ and ‘puppy’ or ‘cute and ‘kitten’ or any proposition involving their own children whether they be ‘cute’, ‘intelligent’ or just plain ‘adorable’.Anything can trigger the powercut in a desktop folder.
I dare say it can work the other way. The other day I was just starting up on another hilarious anecdote when I looked across at the man/wife combo who were my audience. They had both suddenly and inexplicably turned their necks to look out of the window.Two perfect acquiline profiles absorbed in the goings-on on a bit of anonymous scrubland outside the cafe window. As an art-photo you would have called it ‘man and wife involved in not listening to a hilarious anecdore’ Go figure.