Laughing Over Spilled Milk

Recently, while on my London jaunt, I was sat in a coffee shop in Canary Wharf, reading A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. A particurlar scene caused me to laugh out loud, gaining the attention of my fellow patrons, and I picked up my mobile to pretend that someone had sent me an amusing text.

It was as if I had been caught doing something shameful in public.

I don’t know why I did this, it was a spontaneous reaction to my sudden display of emotion at the book I was reading. It’s as if we should only be moved in some capacity by social interaction, in response to the prompting of others. Any bibliophile, or nature lover, or music fan, etc, can tell you that you can be adequately entertained and provoked by such solitary pursuits.

Ahem, anyway . . .

After my acute, public act of deception, I was pretty sure that out of this experience I’d be prepared for any future eruption.

It was soon put to the test.

I was reading All Points North by Simon Armitage in another coffee shop, this time, fittingly, in Manchester. I  was reading about a news item in a newspaper, as relayed by Armitage, about a Robert Ancliff of Bradford who was upset by a note left on his doorstep by his milkman:

The previous day, Mr Ancliff had typed a polite letter of complaint, asking what had happened to the extra pint of milk he had requested. The handwritten reply read: ‘I did get your milk delivered. It must have been stolen, so kiss my f****** a***.’ The milkman has quit without notice and has not been seen since. A company spokesman has apologized, and Mr Ancliff has been given complimentary milk for his trouble.

I laughed out loud at the milkman’s reply. Perhaps the poor man had been having a bad day and Mr Ancliff’s note was the last straw. As a former postman I can fully relate to that.

Anyway-I laughed out loud.

Immediately, I went to put the book down while fumbling in my pocket for my phone. But then,  previous self-analysis kicking in, I shrugged to the people around me, and carried on reading my book.

I came out there and then, in that coffee shop, as a book indulger, rereading the same sentence over and over among a bemused and curious crowd, smirking away into my Americano.


11 thoughts on “Laughing Over Spilled Milk

  1. Glad I’m not the only one. Can’t remember which book it was but one sent me into a fit of laughter in the bus. Made for some nice conversations after I recovered 😉


    • When I was a postman, I was sat one morning on a bus waiting to go to my round. It was early, so it was parked for ten minutes or so making up time. There were a few people sat on it, all silent, probably still sleepy. I had my earphones on listening to a wind-up on the local radio station. It was a regular and popular slot where the DJ rings members of the public up pretending to be somebody else, ringing about current situations in the people’s lives. They usually take the bait and erupt in anger, shouting and swearing.
      My God-how difficult that was! I find things like that funny. I was biting my lip, my cheek, my knuckle…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “I came out there and then, in that coffee shop, as a book indulger, rereading the same sentence over and over among a bemused and curious crowd, smirking away into my Americano.”

    Yesss! Once again the ARTS triumph!
    I’ll have to look and see if our local library has a copy of the Armitage book, sounds fun and full of your Manchester local color.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Creativity 1 Social Norms 0 🙂
      Armitage is a well known poet. This is his first non-poetry that I’ve read. His north is more Yorkshire than Lancashire, Lancashire being the county that Manchester is a part of. We’re neighbours, though 🙂 And he does mention visits to Oldham and Rochdale, both towns about ten minutes from where I live, when he ventures over the Yorkshire-Lancashire border.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I self-published a collection once called One Man’s Meat. From that old saying, you know-another man’s poison? I think this is especially true of music and poetry, and is the great thing about us all being individuals with diverse tastes.
        I like Kenneth White (name checked in the foreword of Heading North) as he writes of the things I like-Northern shores; birds, etc.
        I bought a new collection by Tom Pickard, Winter Migrants, only recently out. That was superb, for the same reasons as White.


  3. Yay!!! Glad you’re standing up for what you laugh at. (Though I can’t help laughing at your attempts at subterfuge.) I’ve also laughed out loud at something I’ve read in a book (usually a Terry Pratchett book).

    I’ve burst into tears twice on the train due to the horrible abuse I unfortunately heard about that day. I’m sure people thought I was crazy. But I couldn’t help it.

    Liked by 1 person

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