Hello! Well, don’t just sit there. Say “hello” back. That’s better.
I apologise for hectoring you like this, so early on a Saturday morning. There you were, sitting eating your bowl of Cinnamon Loops (bit of milk on your chin; sorry, hectoring again), not bothering anyone, and you get this: a scolding.
And I accept your explanation that you couldn’t respond swiftly and in kind to my cheery greeting because your mooth was full of Loops.
You see, I’m sensitive about the issue of saying hello. When walking on woodland paths, or on suburban hills, I say hello to those I meet. It costs nothing, requires little effort and, I like to think, oils the wheels of human camaraderie, making the world a better place in its own small way.
That said, I’ve learned to detect those unlikely to say hello, not just those in athletics gear puffing away in torrid self-improvement, but also those whose faces betray a scornful expression. I just stick my tongue out at them.
There’s nothing worse than a hello that isn’t returned. You feel such a fool. It’s like waving to motorists who don’t wave back. It’s not so bad at passing places, where usually waves are returned.
But, sometimes, when you’re on foot in the country and get on the verge to let a car pass, you wave in anticipation of your safety measure being appreciated, and a scowler just drives by, both hands resolutely on the wheel.
Sometimes, I’ve felt like chasing after them so that I can say: “You didn’t wave back! I demand to know why!” It’s at the stage now where, in such situations, I don’t wave until waved at first. The other day, one driver left it late, and I didn’t get my return wave in quickly enough and felt guilty about it for hours.
Off the road, on rustic paths, I find nearly everyone says hello and, most times, we exchange a passing remark about the weather. Sometimes, folk stop for a proper chat, and I’ve seen these last the best part of an hour, presumably because people are really interested in what I have to say. Do I hear snorting at the back? Behave yourselves!
But I’ve been to places that were right remote and, after hours, you encounter your first human being, and they walk right past saying nothing. Oh, that gets my goat! The Scandinavians are famous for this, and it’s my view that they should be booted out of the United Nations for it.
So should the late Alfred Wainwright, if he weren’t so late and indeed a member of the UN in the first place. I was disturbed to read recently that the famous lakeland walker hated people saying hello to him. You can just picture his grumpy face under his grim flat cap.
Well, yah boo sucks to him. I’ve always been wary of these semi-professional walker or climber types. They never look like they’re enjoying themselves but are instead setting out to achieve something. I didn’t get where I am today by achieving anything.
Like Robert Graves’s cabbage white butterfly, I wander ‘here and here’ by guess and God and hope and hopelessness.’ A happy amateur, that’s the way.
And that’s this week’s lecture over folks. Cheerio.