A Little Less Conversation?

It seems to me, from my return to these English roads less travelled, that there are less and less places where you can meet  travellers.

The charm for me, back in the day, was in being able to compare notes on a place, have a good conversation, and perhaps even hook up to go see a few things together.  

If anything, we are ever more reliant on the Internet to discover who to go with, as much as where to go – however the often impersonal structure of the sites to do that, and the difference between the online and the actual persona of the people you meet on there, does not always guarantee a match-up to what and who you are seeking (but, hey, now we are getting into a discussion which ties in with my day job in challenging that – and ideally seeking to improve the experience of it).   

It’s more than just use of the Internet that is putting a stop to travellers meeting and conversing in person though, as I discovered when I headed down to The Rochester Bar to watch the young locals mixing.

I was heading to The Rochester to get an idea of what the Royal Victoria and Bull would have been like, as mentioned in my previous blog post, as it is supposedly connected with it from the sign on the door of the old hotel. 

The first thing that struck me, as I got in the door, was that the pub was playing current pop numbers too loud for anyone to speak, let alone be heard.  This probably explains why there was a lot of people milling around, either texting on their Blackberries or iPhones – despite being amongst a group of people, or showing others what they had texted as a way of sharing something that could not otherwise be spoken.

It was also curious to note that, apart from the greeting when they recognise someone they know, there was hardly any chat going on at all anyway.  It seems that it is more  just a question of coming in and sitting down (or hanging around the bar), and hoping to be seen by somebody – with drinks being bought and passed around.

There was something about the way that the crowd behaved at this place that reminded me of a “Life on Earth” episode on TV  where Sir David Attenborough observes the culture and behaviour of mountain gorillas in Rwanda.  Indeed, in close approximation to that at one stage, an incident broke out where the security guys chased one guy out who had challenged the equivalent of the dominant silverback there with his ladies. The pack leader had pushed the guy away from foisting his attentions on one of the girls – and then the incident happened when the jilted guy took a swing at him, and was fended off, which eventually led to him pulling a knife to get back at him. It was at this point that the security guys got involved and succeeded in chasing the offender out of the club.

The interesting thing was that, when it quietened down later (as when they were about to close, they turned the music off), I remarked to the young twenty something door supervisor (aka “bouncer”) about the nature of the incident – and this led on to a discussion about the general lack of conversation I’d noted, as well as how a good chat – and hearing a good story – used to be a large part of what I liked about going into pubs around England.  I also gave him an idea of some of the people I’d met through those chats, and where they had led me to in discovering the country and its culture – as well as now to an interest in writing about it.  

The guy said he would like to see something said and written about how simply to get young guys to even chat at all nowadays, rather than fight – even if it is like how they now have rap contests in some places to fend off aggression rather than play it out.

We probably chatted for no more than 15 minutes or so, but the guy was nice enough to say that the conversation we had just had was really good  – and the first decent one he had had like that in his four years working there. If his comment is genuine, then how sad is that?

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About Matt's Tale

A New Age travel writer, seeing the old in the new and the bold in the blue - but mainly seeking the freedom to be, as much as to do. His tales come from meeting modern day travellers following their likes of King Arthur to Geoffrey Chaucer, leading him on to places considered "Camelot" and different ways to see Canterbury and cafes a lot. Email: mattstale@yahoo.co.uk Twitter: @mattstale
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2 Responses to A Little Less Conversation?

  1. hmmmm, it is a shame. i have been to so many places where yiu can’t think never mind talk. the art of conversation is being lost through social media too.
    interesting journey Matt, just read your other post as well. hmmm a book….cool!
    Cindy

    • Matt's Tale says:

      Cindy, once again you have echoed my thoughts and helped me know I have been “heard” with this and other posts – and I really appreciate that, I really do.

      I have to disagree with you (just slightly) that social media is an ill as far as conversation goes – but I do think people have (sadly) now come to rely too much on it for conversation, and so the art or value of now meeting and having a conversation in person is another matter. I hope/trust that I am not capturing a bygone era by writing all this up, and ironically using a form of social media.

      At the very least, we should not be afraid to meet and talk to one another in person – even if it is just on our travels, but perhaps using social media as an aid to help get to know someone first (and especially if it is a online dating, where you don’t know the person from Adam – or Eve, for that matter).

      As to meeting and speaking to people in the course of travels, there’s a great little book I was given on my birthday called “Ox Travels” (introduced by Michael Palin) that captures the value of meeting people in the course of travels – and so that is where I pin my focus and hopes for a return to confidence being regained in the value of interpersonal conversation at large, as opposed to a heavy reliance on social media for human interaction.

      Funnily enough, the lyrics of that Elvis song “A Little Less Conversation” almost capture what I experienced that night. Perhaps that’s why someone chose to cleverly remix it a few years back (and, it could be my imagination or memory playing tricks with me, but they may have even played that at that bar that night). Here’s the link to the track I mean:

      It makes me wonder though: was Elvis really like this (hence why he said “we’ve had a bit of fun with this one”) or did he (perhaps come to) like and want a good, intelligent conversation without aggravation (as in “a little more spark”), rather than posturing and preening as well as fighting? Aye, there’s potentially another good story in the baking….

      P.S. Keep me posted on how it goes in meeting people on your tour business – or helping people, who take your tours, to meet people in the course of them.

      All the Best, Matt

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