Long, long ago, before mobile phones, and even longer before Facebook and other social media were invented, every town needed a town gossip. This was an unpaid job, but the people who did it were really well motivated, and they often worked long days to get the job done. They had to go out in all weathers to places where other people gathered, and they had to be prepared to talk to and listen to all sorts of people, from the grand to the very shady. Their job was to gather local news and pass it on to other people. It was a bit like being a journalist for the local radio, but that hadn’t been invented yet either. Just like today though, they were sometimes accused of creating fake news.
On a typical day the town gossip would get up early in the morning and go down to the shops. The gossip wasn’t necessarily going to buy anything, but would linger for a while outside the butcher’s shop. There, Mrs Brown might be queueing to buy six succulent slightly seasoned sizzling sausages for Saturday’s supper. The gossip would strike up a conversation with Mrs Brown and casually ask if any of the sausages were for her lodger.
The gossip might then go to the flower stall on the green and, after complimenting the flower seller on price for fourteen fine fresh freesias for fifty pence, the gossip would tell the flower seller that Mrs Brown might be developing a ‘thing’ for her lodger, because she is trying to impress him with the superbly succulent slightly seasoned sizzling sausages for Saturday supper.
The gossip would then walk on past the local pub, where the lamplighter’s lad is high up a ladder conscientiously cutting the candle, clearing the cuttings and cleaning the glass. There she would observe that the lanky lad’s large ladder is leaning lazily in a lopsided way before telling him that, if he is going to buy any flowers from the flower seller on the green, he needs to check them carefully because the remaining red rambling roses are radically reduced because they reek and are ready to recycle.
The gossip’s next call is at the police station where there is a poster on the door about a missing kitten. The gossip tells the police “It’s possible the peculiar pedigree pussy purring and playing on my patio fits the description.” The constable knows the town gossip only too well and says the missing cat has already been found and this shouldn’t be police business anyway. “OK”, says the town gossip, “Then if you’ve really nothing better to do, you need to have a word with the lamplighter’s lanky lad. He is likely to lose his life because his large ladder is leaning lazily in a lopsided way”.
At lunchtime the gossip visits the best place in town for genuine juicy guaranteed gossip; the Greedy Gourmet Cafe. Here the gossip eavesdrops on the next table where a couple of cousins are quietly conversing about their current concerns, in the corner, over a comforting cup of cocoa. The gossip listens to what they say then leans over and concurs that more people should consider contributing to community care and condemns the constable’s candidly cutting comment about catching cute kittens.
After finishing her now cold cup of cappuccino coffee the gossip decides to spend the last of a lovely day loitering leisurely and listening to more loose larynxes in the local lending library. By the time the gossip leaves the local lending library loaded with little labial lapses, it is time to toddle tiredly toward the trendy town takeaway for a teatime tikka or tapas. Here, treat in hand, before hurriedly heading homeward, the gossip beseeches a bespectacled businessman to beware befriending the book borrowers and bibliography browsers at the borrowing library because their banter beggars belief