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Eavesdropping in Beaver County

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On a visit to London in back in 2000, I got my fill of my King Henry VIII fetish. For me, Hampton Court was the place to be, having missed seeing it during my first trip years earlier.

Fresh off the plane, newly pregnant, queasy, and having not slept a wink (due to excitement), I convinced George and our hosts that I was feeling fine and couldn’t waste a minute in my favorite country. We had to be off sight-seeing spit-spot. Since we were staying in Kent, it made all the sense in the world to just go ahead and drop the bags at our friend’s place and then continue on straight away to Hever Castle – childhood home of one Anne Boleyn. Never mind that we had to pull over along the way because I had dry heaves. Baby or no baby, I was in England, and I would muster all the strength I had to make the most of our trip. Not even morning sickness could stop me. And I even took a Jack the Ripper walking tour – so you just know I was serious.

Hampton Court was indeed on the schedule, however, and just a few days later I walked through the gates of this massive structure. I learned many a new thing about Henry and his wives, but I also learned the following:

Hampton Court Palace outside London was the palace of King Henry VIII of England. In the eaves of its Great Hall, small faces are carved into the oak beams which lean at an angle of 45 degrees to the ground. These are known as ‘Eaves Droppers’. Henry was known to be a strong ruler and often put spies in crowds of people to listen in to conversations. He wanted his staff (who slept in the Great Hall between banquets and would lie on straw looking up at the eaves) to know that he or his people would be listening at all times.

Ok, so either I am channeling Henry or Lindsay Wagner, because I seem to overhear a ton of interesting conversations. I honestly don’t try to eavesdrop. It’s more like I just walk head first into interesting conversations of which I am not involved.

Case in point.

While exiting Giant Eagle:

Man #1: Hey, dude! Great to see you! Where you been?

Man #2: Just got out of jail. Been there since 2005.

Man #1: That sucks. What for?

Man #2: Child abuse! Hey, what you been up to?

Shudder. These guys weren’t exactly speaking softly.

This one is a bit more amusing.

Overheard at Goodwill:

Man: Ok, this place just sucks. Everything is so dang cheap. Full of crap. Everything here is crap.

Um, duh. Did you think you were entering Saks 5th Avenue’s Rochester location?

I’ll take that “cheap crap”, Sir. Serve me up more of the same! And, have a nice day!

So, do I just have the ears of a Tudor tyrant, or am I bionic?

Whichever, you better whisper when in my presence, or you many just end up in this blog.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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