A little boy aged six or seven and his teacher, on the train.

Boy: Do you have an upstairs, where you live?

Teacher: In my house? Yes, I do.

Boy: Do you have a dog?

Teacher: I have three dogs.

Boy: I want an upstairs and a dog.

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Overheard at the swimming pool

From their voices, they were eight or nine years old, but I didn’t see them.

Speaker A: I’m not wearing my school socks, look. I hate my school socks.

Speaker B: So do I! They’re so annoying.

A: I’m putting all my clothes in my bag.

B: I’m not. My bag is SO small.

A: So you and Tanya are like related?

B: Yeah.

A: Because you are the same religion?

B: Yeah.

A: I don’t really know about religion because I don’t have one…People who have a religion have to respect people who don’t have one.

B: And people who don’t have one, have to respect those who do.

A: Yeah. It’s the same for everyone.

PS I’m in Scotland, lying low for just now, but this was too good not to share.

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Old? Me?

I overheard a little interaction in our corner shop.

Two teenagers were breathlessly telling the lad behind the counter, who was obviously a mate, about something that had happened.

From what I overheard I think they must have built or made something – I imagine a hide or tree house or some such thing and someone – a woman – destroyed it. They even had photos on their mobile phone to prove it.

Then the guy behind the counter asked, “Was she old?”

And one of the teenagers said, “Forty.”

But I couldn’t tell from their tone of voice if that meant yes or no.

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Two schoolboys.

One says to the other, “And they put peas in leek and potato soup.”

Obviously not the done thing in the leafy suburbs of Stamperland.

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Out and about

I’ve been on a variety of means of transport since I’ve been back in the UK and so I’ve had lots of time to eavesdrop:

Man on the phone: I’ve eaten salmon twice today but I’ll happily eat it tomorrow.

Man on the phone to the mother of his son: You need to go over his six, seven, eight and nine times tables.

Inaudible voice must say something like: Where will I find them?

Man: From your head preferably…

Female student to travelling companion (male): It’s that she won’t because she can’t because of her religion.

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At the T-shirt printing shop

Today I went to get a T-shirt printed as a goodbye present for a friend. The shop was a hive of paisa industry with orders being taken, stencils being cut out and the T-shirts being stamped.

As I explained my design to a helpful young woman, another member of staff was looking for images of Pablo Escobar. “I need the one that says Pablo,” he said, impatiently.

“You’ll have to get that off the Internet,” someone suggested.

And indeed, around the shop were several designs of Medellín’s most notorious narco-criminal.

In stark contrast, was the lady getting a pile of T-shirts printed with a variety of different Bible verses.

The one that I was able to read upside down and back to front was: “She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak,” from Luke 8:44, which was an intriguing choice to be printed on a T-shirt, I felt.

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Vivid expression

I was in a taxi and the driver was talking on this radio about this accident, which left one person dead and 5 injured.

The conversation went something like this:

Is it true about the accident on the Balsos?

Yes, there is a car overturned, literally, on its back with its feet in the air.

Like a cockroach?

Yes, like a cockroach. Completely on its back with its feet in the air, like a cockroach.

So it hasn’t been smashed, it’s been cockroached.

We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t know about the casualties as they gleefully played with the image, and marvel instead at the vividness of the Spanish language.

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Overhead in Ecuador

…they built a road near us and everybody got compensation

to put double-glazing in their houses, and we looked at each other

and said Holiday and that’s when we did the Grand Canyon.


…We did two months of bed and breakfast in Canada

and we didn’t have the same breakfast twice.


When I started my job four years ago, on the very first day,

someone was shot outside the school.


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