TALKING TO A STRANGER

I don’t know why but I’ve started talking to myself. Maybe it’s because no-one else is.

Preparing a meal now I say ‘Right. I need a small saucepan.’ As if I’m Gordon Fucking Ramsay surrounded by extras. ‘Olive oil,’ I explain helpfully as I cross the kitchen and press open the pantry.

It’s like I’ve got my own cooking show. But send in the clowns. No-one is there. Robinson is upstairs watching Netflix.

Out in the garden it’s ‘I’m going to fill up the bird baths.’ Now I’m Doctor (Fucking) Dolittle, talking to the animals.

Or am I still talking to myself?

Hey Google reassures me that talking to myself out loud – ‘selftalk’, succinctly – is normal. It’s the chaotic side of my brain battling the ordered side of my brain.

That doesn’t sound normal to me.

Research shows that selftalk helps us to memorise and complete tasks more efficiently. That might explain why I’ve started doing it. These days I’ve no sooner thought of a task than I’ve forgotten what it was.

So walking through the house loudly declaring ‘I’m going to clean my teeth’ baffles Robinson but apparently helps me get all the way to the bathroom.

She baffles me too. She sometimes says ‘You’re beautiful’ out in the sunroom when I’m not even there with her.

‘Thank you,’ I call back from the set of my imaginary cooking show.

‘I’m talking to the cat.’

‘I’m just going to boil some water,’ I selftalk my way out of embarrassment.

Whole days can pass like this, unsure if we’re talking to each other, or ourselves, or the cat. Life is complicated.

In lockdown I’ve also been hearing voices INSIDE my head. I’ve always had an internal monologue going on but these new voices are talking complete shit, and one of them has a Scottish accent.

Then I realised it was the builders in the backyard next door. Renovations are back on.

To escape their clatter and bang we take off on our daily essential exercise. Even here, in the great outdoors, we pass solo walkers selftalking at full volume. I wonder if they know we can hear them?

‘That’s their internal chaos versus order,’ I explain to Robinson.

‘No, they’re talking on their phones,’ she explains to me.

I didn’t see a phone. Either the world’s gone mad or I have.

It’s me, isn’t it? No need to answer that – I was selftalking.

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