The Third Leader: Not overheard on an iPod

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The Independent Online

Life, eh? Enjoying yourself seems particularly fraught. My parents, I remember, used to have a tray on their cocktail cabinet - ah, the cocktail cabinet! - on which was inscribed the legend, "Everything I like is immoral, illegal, or fattening." Today it would continue, "or a danger to health, scientists warned yesterday."

Life, eh? Enjoying yourself seems particularly fraught. My parents, I remember, used to have a tray on their cocktail cabinet - ah, the cocktail cabinet! - on which was inscribed the legend, "Everything I like is immoral, illegal, or fattening." Today it would continue, "or a danger to health, scientists warned yesterday."

This time it's the iPod. Overuse, particularly at high volumes, can lead to deafness, scientists warned yesterday. Sigh. No wonder so many look beyond this vale of tears to another, better world. How is one supposed to survive the shorter, daily journey from A to B in the vale without some friendly noise in the ear? We know about the mobile phone and the brain; you must have heard about the thumb.

I recommend a good newspaper, but even The Independent has its limitations: we wouldn't want to see: "Walking along a crowded pavement reading a newspaper can be a danger to health, scientists warned yesterday."

I could try a jolly sally about John Cage, but you deserve better. As an alternative, why not try eavesdropping? Low-tech, but very rewarding. The ones you catch walking along have a gnomic, even poetic quality. Try this, from Bolton: "It must have happened while I was on the way down to Auntie Ethel's, that's all I can think."

The bus is also good. A particular favourite is the middle-aged lady on the 159 from Streatham discussing her husband: "He bothered me again last night." But the palm goes to the young girl in Frinton who, after listening to her parents discussing London, gestured at her teddy bear and said, "Poor little bugger's never even been to Colchester."

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