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A Potter's Moll: Listen Twice, Talk Once

...The choir I sing with recently acquired new uniforms which the ladies think are very smart – black trousers, black top with a gold and black brocade short-sleeved jacket over the top. We gave a concert last Sunday afternoon and when I came out there was a young boy riding his bike on the pavement. He asked me: ‘Why is there a load of people wearing them funny shirts?’ Beauty, as ever, is in the eye of the beholder!...

Despite a sombre start to Liz Robison's week she found plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

Liz's fortnightly column is a joy to read. Please click on A Potter's Moll in the menu on this page for more of her words.

A sombre start to the week this time with a phone call from our eldest son saying he had been knocked off his bike in Bradford and suffered a broken collar bone and lacerated hip. As so often is the case the car driver’s response was : ‘Sorry, I didn’t see you.’ Of course, then you begin to think that it could have been worse…. But he was so proud of that new bike and his lap-top is scuppered too.

Since I retired from teaching, I have derived much pleasure from reading, anything and every thing and not just A-level Literature set books. I’ve taken to scouring the charity shops and come up with some great bargains – Toast by cookery writer Nigel Slater, Nobody’s Child by foreign correspondent, Kate Adie among them.

However, sometimes I see a new book reviewed in the paper and I go and order it from our local bookshop, and it’s the hardback, and its twenty quid. Still, I suppose it evens out between the two and I can always later send the hardbacks to the charity shop.

In my last column I wrote about mottoes and I would like to return to that subject, by quoting a letter which appeared in The Guardian:

‘My school had an English motto: ‘I hear, I see, I learn’. They rather discouraged the Latin – audio video disco.’

Another motto I came across recently struck a chord. It was quoted by a wise-sounding local government manager as advice in dealing with people: ‘Listen twice, talk once.’

I witnessed a comical little episode in the supermarket car park the other day. Two drivers, one male, one female, were backing out and would surely have collided if I hadn’t waved and shouted at them. The woman gave me a rueful grateful grin. The man shrugged his shoulders and gave me a look that said ‘Women drivers, eh!’ Not hard to tell where my sympathy went.

There has been some mocking comment in the media over the announcement that Leeds Metropolitan University is to introduce a degree in Northern Studies. The tabloids suggest there will be modules on flat caps and whippets while the broadsheets decry the idea, saying that all it can be is a course about loss – the cotton industry, the woollen mills, the coal mines.

One commentator, originally from Yorkshire, however, had a nice little anecdote to add to the discussion. He had been walking along the street in York with his young son when the passed a butcher’s shop that had the door open. The lad asked his dad why there was a chair at the end of the counter. His dad replied: ‘So that an old lady can sit down while the butcher is wrapping her mince.’

The choir I sing with recently acquired new uniforms which the ladies think are very smart – black trousers, black top with a gold and black brocade short-sleeved jacket over the top. We gave a concert last Sunday afternoon and when I came out there was a young boy riding his bike on the pavement. He asked me: ‘Why is there a load of people wearing them funny shirts?’ Beauty, as ever, is in the eye of the beholder!

More from me in a fortnight.

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