Out and About, by George Rennie


Distribution Manager George Rennie paints a picture of an encounter with the power of print...
Read his previous blog post here.
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It’s late. You’re out with an old friend with whom you've been meaning to catch up for too long – but you keep on missing each other. If it’s not one of you cancelling, it’s the other: a cruel, protracted back and forth of unfulfilled promises that carries on across the gulf of this damp, forsaken city.

But tonight, you’ve finally done it! You’ve booked tickets to go and see the third hottest show in town. The financial commitment locks you into an agreement that neither of you can break – the rules of scrimping by on a budget trumping all other weekly concerns – and now, armed and ready with a ginny in a tinny (in your bag), and a months-long backlog of dramas to relay, you are excited to finally catch up.

But they’re late – as usual. So, you’re on your own. The options are:

  • Enter the theatre and get bumped into by all the luvvies flapping around the foyer
  • Go on your phone and pretend you’re somewhere else (like a ‘normal’ person)
  • Guess whether people have pressured, full-time jobs or are living a perfect dream of creative frustration. (You could even try talking to them to figure this out.)

As you cast your eyes over the people filing past with their faux leather bags, striped linen shirts, gold bangles and hair, a voice from your right says: ‘Excuse me’.

You turn to see who it is. Have you done something wrong? What possible reason could there be for someone to break the golden rule of never speaking to strangers unless you absolutely have to.

It’s a young woman. Person. Female presenting. ‘Interested in a story about the world today?’

Strange, what on Earth are they talking about? They continue:

‘People have put a lot of thought into it. It’s not just any old story. This one gets right to the heart of it.’

The heart of what? Though piqued, you can’t help but lean in.

‘Right to the bottom of that thing you feel at the pit of your stomach, that little knot you feel tighten every single day, when you’re confronted with the inherent contradictions of life in the modern city?’

All you can think is ???

‘That thing which is sort of a question, but more perhaps of an awareness. An appreciation that there is so much more going out there in the world than you can see or know or feel as you go about your day?’

My oh my.

‘It’s a little bit of life. And they’ve made it just for you.’

You take the piece of paper they’ve placed in your hand. On it are people, words, images – a mixture of energy, information and vibe. A title. The promise of a story containing a whole other world you could be transported to. Another opportunity to laugh, to cry, to have your mind opened up just an inch more to the world.

You ask a question. ‘When? Where? Who?’ And the flyerer responds. It’s all on there. All the information. Just keep hold of it. Leave it on your desk. You never know when you might want what it has to offer. An anchor. An excuse. An adventure...

‘Hello mate!’

You turn. Finally, it’s your friend! They’ve just arrived. He’s smiling. Beautiful as ever. Each time you see him slightly more an adult than the last.

‘So sorry,’ he says. ‘A kid threw his iPhone out of the window and we all had to wait for him to get it.’

You hug. You say something about public transport, or the inherent selfishness of today’s youth, or how being late is one of those fashions that will never truly go out of fashion. Like boots.

And you will remember that you were just having a conversation about something with the person to your right. You turn – but they are gone. You see them having another conversation with another person, one more curious visitor looking for connection amidst the metropolitan rush. You will see the threads forming: a web of meaning, a line of future enquiry, the hope and possibility that congregation brings.

You will put the flyer in your pocket. A fleeting exchange, but one so full of potential you will keep it for a later moment.

For now, it’s showtime! You will go in. You will forget everything. The lights will go down as your friend squeezes between the seats to join you after a last-minute dash to the loo. The actors will act, the singers will sing, and the whole evening will transport you to a space of pure delight.

Until the next time.

Because you got given a flyer.

And when you get home, that little piece of paper will remind you of everything you could have and do and see again.

And that thought will stay with you.

Until you need another way to pin down your friend

And your hopes

Of living just a little bit more

Will be fulfilled.


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