We often hear strange snippets of conversation as we walk through public spaces. When was the last time you overheard something so interesting, ridiculous, or disturbing you really wanted to know what it was all about?
Who needs to eavesdrop when the tabloids and their like can do it so much better, and with images attached? No one can possibly compete with these mines of misinformation, and however far and wide you might manage to circulate the details of your neighbours’ latest domestic, it will pale into insignificance in the light of single word falling from Kim Kardashian’s perfectly sculpted lips, be it ever so inane, or – dare I say it – imagined.Furthermore, you can be fairly sure that next-door’s threats to kill each other will prove far less riveting than the fact that Beyonce has gone braless for a spread. And being realistic, if Bob and Dot do indeed kill each other, facts could prove a positive hindrance in comments to the TV news crews parked on your doorstep. Far more appropriate, it seems, to say they were a lovely couple – unless you reported their overheard threats to the police who did nothing, which is always good grist for the gossip mill.
There’s no denying that an overheard snippet or two, carefully handled, can cause gratifying ripples of discomfort through the neighbourhood, and if Twitter and FB are roped into service, you might possibly whip those ripples into waves of angst and drama. But bear in mind that if Bob and Dot are the litigious sort (and haven’t killed each other in the meantime) you could find yourself facing very unsportsmanlike accusations of libel and defamation. Far better to leave these risks to the tabloids, whose ability to pay is apparently bottomless.
As for titbits overheard in public places – the best source here is the library, where the popular topic is the current ailments and medical treatments of those not present. Do I want to know? Not really.