Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Communication, they say, is more about listening than talking. And indeed, I've always found that truly, it is amazing what people will tell you when you listen. I'm working in the box office and as the night progresses, things get quiet. The doorman and I strike up a conversation. He isn't challenging any sterotypes; six foot three, broad shouldered, with an impassive face and imposing manner. Our conversation moves from small talk into more personal territory; he tells me about his army days in Iraq - capture, constant fear and coming to care not if he lives or dies. He tells me about his childhood in East London, his feelings of isolation and even of his little black and white cat, Nancy. I ask questions and I listen to the answers, including the casual homophobia, sexism and racism, without judgement, and I begin to understand it's been a long time since this man really talked to anybody. I feel a sense of privilege, I feel intensely interested in what he's telling me - recounting a world that is completely alien to me, yet familiar from the news and Hollywood.

At the end of the night we go our separate ways, not even saying goodbye in the bustle of closing up, and as I drive home, I feel profound sadness for him, alone in his flat with the little black and white cat and those memories of war.