One winds on the distaff what the other spins. (Both spread gossip).
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Dutch proverb
Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about
the personal or private affairs of others.
Prudence said we should come and have a coffee. I accepted with alacrity. Sometimes I like to gossip. Problem is, I never know any, so people like Prudence are very useful to me after a long period of abstinence. Before we go, I arrange for a parade of people in my mind’s eye whom I haven’t seen or heard of for a while and with whose current circumstances I need to familiarise myself. Not all the gossip is malicious; Beloved came too and he wouldn’t stand for that, but some bits are just too juicy to keep under wraps. Prudence is an old lady, one of the many in our small village who can be relied on to have her finger on the pulse of public opinion on any delicate matter, like who has offended whom and why, who’s having an affair with whom, whose son is in trouble, etc. On this occasion it was righteous indignation at the shenanigans of an 80+ year old who very recently buried his wife and is already actively on the look-out for her replacement. Well, at 80+ he doesn’t have all that much time left for renewed nuptials; I can quite see the reason for the hurry. All the same, we were united in tutting at such callous bad taste, as well as wondering who could possibly be desperate enough to take him up on the offer.
In a historical thriller I read recently ( one of C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake series - highly recommended if you want something light, fast paced, Tudor, and well researched) the etymology of the word gossip was mentioned. So I looked it up. It comes from Old English gossib, god sibb, a godparent, close relation, confidant. What an enormous distance for a word to travel, from something good like a sponsor, a friend and mentor, to an idle tittle-tattler who can cause real grief and unhappiness.
Beloved must have been quite confused, he left one of his gloves behind, he thought. One glove on its own is an abomination, if you must lose one, make sure you lose both. Having hunted high and low, not finding it, even retracing steps from Prudence’s door to ours next morning, I rang her. Putting the receiver down I heard a voice from the lobby: “It’s alright,” he said, “found it. It was here all the time. Pretending to be a plastic bag.” Do you wonder I need the odd bit of light relief occasionally?