January 28: just a minute

As I was walking into the tube at Earls Court this evening I overheard a snatch of conversation between an elderly female Evening Standard distributor and a couple of bemused foreign tourists. You just had a minute, she was saying excitedly. Why just one minute? the Russian tourists were asking. That was the thing, she said. But you cannot explain everything about computer in one minute, the Russians replied, looking earnestly at her. No, you didn’t have to explain everything, said the news vendor. World of computer is complex, said one of the Russians.  And you couldn’t hesitate or repeat or go off topic, she said, carrying on regardless. Perhaps could explain in five or ten minutes or one hour lecture, they said. No, said the vendor, just a minute. The Russians were now looking for a way out. They looked at the cover of the paper.Who was this remarkable Nicholas Parsons? they seemed to be thinking. They exchanged looks and moved into the station as though into a strange now world.


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