Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Guardian man

There's a bus I quite often catch which coincides with the commute to work of a gentleman with luxuriant shoulder-length layered curls, slightly greying, a tweed jacket (this is England) and - invariably - a copy of the Guardian open at the opinion pages.

"I saw Guardian man today" has become one of my regular desultory conversational gambits.

But I've been thinking about it a bit more. By labelling this person "Guardian man", I am making assumptions about the political, economic and social beliefs he holds; I have already written him off as someone I am unlikely to have a fruitful conversation with (NB not that I am necessarily expecting to get into discussions with complete strangers on buses - this is England, as I said). This is unfair to him, because he may be reading the Guardian for any number of reasons, he does not necessarily agree entirely with their editorial policy. It is also unfair to me. By dismissing this person as "Guardian man", I am shutting myself off from the chance of learning lots from him about - oh, I don't know - butterflies, or walking routes in the Dordoygne, or fantastic recipes using flax seeds.

Good ideas are good ideas, no matter where they come from. It takes some mental adjustment to accept them from people one is accustomed to dismissing, though.

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