I blame my eyebrows. Apparently, people with eyebrows that are high above their eyes are deemed more trustworthy and approachable than people whose eyebrows skim the tops of their eyes, for example like those of Tony Blair...ha! Who'd have thought that, eh? Tony Blair untrustworthy. And where is he these days anyway? I thought he was supposed to be the Peace Envoy for the Middle East or something of that ilk, and given how much it is kicking off in that part of the world at the moment Blair seems rather obvious by his absence. But I digress...
...my eyebrows. I carry them quite high on my head which is just as well as I have a high forehead and if I wore my eyebrows low (a la Mr Shifty Blair) I would look like a hard boiled egg. I like to think that the placement of my eyebrows balances out the overall effect of my facial structure. And it also seems to attract total strangers into genial conversation. This happens a lot. (And it is hereditary, too, because Heather suffers the same.)
For example, last Friday I nipped into town to purchase an anniversary card. It rained. I had no umbrella. You may remember because I blogged about it in an attempt to relocate my missing umbrellas and ta-dah! It worked. Both brollies are back where they should be. And as I went into the shopping centre a little old lady suddenly appeared at my elbow (she was, literally, little) and said, 'It's a day for avoiding the drips, isn't it?'
Well, I assumed she was referring to the inclement weather and not the plethora of flimsy people that might be hanging around the shopping centre complaining about their weak ankles or limp hair. So I agreed. And as I walked on she stuck by me, chatting away about the weather and where she had travelled from and her daughter who was visiting that afternoon and what she was in town for and that she hoped the roads didn't get too puddly, etc, etc, etc.
We almost made it across the full length of the shopping centre before we parted company. I almost felt I ought to ask if she'd like to go for a cup of a tea and a slice of Battenburg, but I resisted the urge a) because I felt if I had offered, the little old lady would have said 'Ooooh, yes please,' and I really needed to be in and out of town like a flash and b) I don't like Battenburg on account of the marzipan.
So we parted company at the top of the escalator and I sent out a silent wish that that the rest of her little old lady day went well for her.
And this afternoon, after a light luncheon of pea and mint soup (my favourite!) and some Scottish oatcakes, I went into the front garden to complete the Grand Lavender Harvest 2014. Blimey, it has been a MASSIVE crop this year. I am very pleased with it but have had to deal with it in batches because I kept running out of drying space.
Anyway, last batch today and there I was gathering away in the sunshine when a cheery voice said, 'Hello!'
I looked up. There on the driveway was a lady, in her sixties, or possibly in her fifties and not wearing very well, smartly dressed and coiffed, but with a bit of a lippy smudge on her front teeth. She was holding a briefcase and a clipboard and she immediately started quizzing me about my lavender harvest.
Bit familiar, I thought. Is there some kind of Lavender Police I know nothing about? Well, turns out that she was doing market research and before I knew it I had agreed to be interviewed and she was in the house using the loo and drinking coffee.
And in the course of the ensuing half an hour I learned these things about her:
1) she was South African
2) she had four sons
3) her four sons bled her dry financially and emotionally which was why she was still having to work after retirement age
5) her father was an accountant
6) her sister has made some seriously bad financial decisions
7) she herself lost a lot of her financial investments when she moved to Britain from South Africa on account of some dodgy exchange rate deal (I didn't quite get how this happened but she sounded VERY chippy and bitter about it).
8) one of her daughters-in-law thought she was having a baby girl so she (the mother-in-law) bought a VERY expensive French-design baby outfit (peach - it sounded hideous, but what do I know about French baby fashion?) from an exclusive boutique in Hastings (really??) and the baby turned out to be a boy and she couldn't get a refund (on the outfit, not the baby.)
9) the daughter-in-law was Australian which, she seemed to imply, explained EVERYTHING
10) she was having her garden professionally landscaped (hence the interest in the lavender.)
11) her car had sustained eight nails in its tyres last week through visiting an unsavoury area to carry out some market research on pet foods
12) her car was also having radiator problems
13) she did not like the new laptop her company had provided her with because it kept 'doing its own thing'
14) her niece went out with a vet once
15) she had trouble getting a mortgage and had to have an interest only one - this was, according to her, the total fault of the British banking system because she never had this trouble in South Africa. (I really wanted to ask her why, if South Africa was so great, did she move to scummy Britain, but I really couldn't get a word in edge ways.)
16) she has been banking with Barclays since 1957.
And what did she learn about me through her in-depth market research?
Not much. I think market research is VERY intrusive and why would I trust someone I had only just met even though she had some how availed herself of my bathroom and got a cup of coffee out of me? So dear reader, I (mostly) lied.
Despite my trustworthy eyebrows.