Thursday, 8 November 2007

As others see us

I discovered today that in someone else’s life I am not Sarah D: aspiring author, freelance quiz writer, charity shop bargain hunter. In the story of their life I am quite a different character altogether. I am not Sarah for a start. ‘They’ are a neighbour, six doors down on a quiet terrace. I am not ‘Sarah’ because they do not know my name. To them I am ‘The running woman, the one with the hats”.

Now ‘running woman’, that’s an epitaph I could live and quite happily die with. I do run; two or three times a week. Often up onto the moors, across fields and bogs. I love it. It is part of my life. But. ‘with the hats’ worried me. When my friend told me that her work colleague (my neighbour) had called me ‘the running woman, the one with the hats ', I felt I had to query the hats. I don’t wear a hat when I’m running. Maybe I should. 30% of heat loss is through your head, and I love running in the cold; but I never run in a hat. My friend smiled, “She says you run past her house two or three times a day, and generally you wear a hat.”

I got it then. The hats. I do wear hats: peaked caps - blue wool, dusky pink velvet, a cable-knot brown with a silky green flower. I wear them on a morning, meeting friends for coffee and in the afternoon on last minute trips to the Co-op or the post office. I’m often late, often reach the end of the street and have to turn back for something I have forgotten (my purse, my phone, my ecologically-sound cloth shopping bag). I am often, in fact usually, running.

I am ‘the running woman, the one with the hats”. I feel like a character in a graphic novel. The one who always gets there just too late - to stop the train, to defuse the bomb, to rescue the hero, - but who is always impeccably turned out, and always wears a hat.

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