Sunday, 6 May 2007

Any news, any scandal, any gossip?

A few years ago, while I was planning my move to the edge of a West Sussex village my big sister out did me once again and took herself off to the far north of Scotland, (No sibling rivalry there then!)

In the quiet community where she lives the common greeting is,

‘Any news?’

‘Any news, any scandal, any gossip, and if not, let’s make some up!’ would be more appropriate.

I was staying with her last week and had the misfortune to need to visit the local doctor on pension day. The post office is just across the road from the health centre and I passed by just as the village worthies were gathering for their morning chat. I could feel all eyes on my back as I crossed over and I swear I could hear them whispering.

‘That’s Em’s sister from down south, she’s going to the doctor…’

One old farmer, waiting for his wife, quickly rolled down his car window to be ready to greet me with a cheery, ‘How are yea?‘ as I passed. Before I’d even got beyond the waiting room door my sister’s neighbour, a kindly and inquisitive old soul and ex nurse, had phoned to enquire what was wrong and could she be of assistance. In a two minute conversation she’d managed to wheedle out all essential details and within a few more minutes I imagine most of the over sixties had been updated on the state of my health. I swear even the sheep in the neighbouring field eyed me with interest.

I don’t think I could cope with that level of speculation on a regular basis but my sister takes it in her stride and gives as good as she gets. I now know quite a lot more than I needed to about several of her friends and acquaintances. Though not one to gossip myself, if this blog was a bit more secure I might even be tempted to pass on a few particularly interesting snippets. It’s not only the porridge that gets stirred up there you know. Some other time perhaps.

I’m not saying my own village isn’t capable of spreading a rumour or three. If you want to know who’s bought the empty shop and the juicy details of why the previous tenants left in such a hurry, then a visit to the hairdressers is needed. It’s only a small village but is blessed with three hairdressers and it would be unwise to upset any of them. I even heard that they’ve actually banned a woman I know for ‘bad behaviour’ but my half hour appointment wasn’t quite long enough to find out the exact nature of the behaviour. I need a perm and colour to get to the bottom of that one. It’s even rumoured that the village restaurant failed because my hairdresser’s mum had an indifferent meal there on her anniversary, but not being one to gossip myself I don’t think I should pass that on.

I travelled home yesterday and my sister phoned this evening to say she’s had several of friends pop in to see her. One brought a cabbage she had spare, another wanted a recipe, all wanted to know how I was. I shudder to think how my medical mishap has been pondered over and embroidered, but at least I know that my sister, who’s getting on a bit and not in the best of health herself, will be watched over by a community that looks after its own and its incomers. She’s a long way from me and I can’t get to see her much so I take comfort in that.

11 comments:

Pondside said...

Lovely to have you back! I laughed at the 'any news?' because that is what we called the 'call of the military wife' when the Great Dane was in the Air Force. After about 10 months in a post we'd begin to ask ourselves and our husbands 'any news' of a posting.
How good it must be for you to think that your sister is in a village where people keep an eye out for one another. That is the good side of all the chat and gossip that go with village life.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Ah but it is the same the world over believe me!!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Aw come on --what did that lady do to get banned from the hairdressers?

Eden said...

How well we love the insides of our neighbours lives, I guess because we don't have to live there. It's so much easier to pronounce on someone else's life than to tidy up your own. Our community is so small -- I once went through a red light and it was deemed worthy of newsprint!

Julie said...

glad your back my street a bit like that x jep

elizabethm said...

our village is just the same. sometimes people tell me things about my own family i dont even know.

Exmoorjane said...

Lovely reading your last few blogs..... Our village is the same as your sister's - I can't number the times I've been told that we're moving (to - variously - London/Wales/Exford/the USA) and that I'm pregnant (news to me!) or that Adrian and I have split up and I've run off with him over the hill (er, no thank you). Hilarious. jx

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Och aye you ken we are no all as bad as that up here in Bonnie Scotland and the flip side of the gossip is that if you do have a problem everyone is there to support you as I found out.

Suffolkmum said...

Really enjoyed catching up with you again. This blog made me laugh - our village is very similar, but not in such a direct way - more of a curtains twitching, hushed comments kind of a place!

countrymousie said...

Its a bit like that in our little market town - everyone knows everyone and if you go to the doctors, we all know the receptionists and dispensing staff. I just pray I never have something really embarrassing to have to consult them about! On the plus side Ive not got much left to go wrong!!

Posie Rosie said...

Sounds very like here!!What they don't know they will make up.