Walking through the town square I weave my way through the day trippers, the lunch time workers, pensioners and pushchair wielding mothers. I only have a few minutes spare so no time to linger.
'What time does it arrive dear?' he says to her. I have to squeeze through a queue waiting for the small village-to-village bus.
I never hear her reply, I am already out of earshot.
'Wot ya fink? - shurra I give 'im a call?' Two teenagers draped in goth inspired clothing in turn drape themselves on the bench alongside the renovated town hall. I catch a baritone 'dunno' in reply as I cross the road.
Amid the northern accents I hear a strident southern voice demanding to know 'when is the next bus to Ingleton?' I turn to see an older lady in long shorts, her shoulders weighed down with a heavy haversack. The answer was lost to the breeze as I strode round the hall.
'No she wasn't!'
I'll never know, who she was, what she did and whether it was true or not, but it certainly had three dumpy ladies in deep conversation. Their crimplene coats buttoned or belted against the cooler autumn air.
'Eee, I'll be beggerrred' grumbles a crusty old boy to his equally craggy friend as they sit watching the world go by. They don't notice me, at least I don't think they do. I am just some one who fleetingly crossed their line of vision.
I continue my mission to the mini-mart to pick up a bag of salad to add to my lunch, cross another road and hear a workman yell an instruction to a fellow worker, his reply lost under the metallic clang of scaffolding poles being loaded into the works van.
I quickly make my purchase and leave, people chatting all round me, some inaudible, some raucous, all snippets that I am not privy to but hear all the same as I traverse unheeded through their bubble of conversation.
Striding back to work I find I am overtaking old folk and day trippers gawping at shop windows and at the view.
'Look at that Doris, awww, I think our Dorothy would love it'.
I see Doris lean forward to peer at some trinket or other and nod and mutter a reply. Did Doris agree? Don't know, I never will. Their conversation slipped in and and out of my life - uncompleted.
To me this patchwork of unfinished sentences, half heard fragments of conversations are like glimpses of private lives open to anyone who can hear them. I am not deliberately setting out to listen but crisscrossing through people usually means conversations wash over me and words get caught and I am teased by the scraps of sentences.
It makes me smile.
It is life.