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The Rules of Silence

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

There is a rule, like there seems to be a rule about almost everything these days, which states that two English speaking people, in conversation, who are not close friends, cannot sit in silence for longer than four seconds without both feeling very uncomfortable.

   This in many ways explains the relationship which has formed between Mrs Hibbert-Smyth and Tommy “Gazza” Rollins. Gazza is a painter and decorator by trade, covered in splashes and sploshes of paint from head to toe. Mrs Hibbert-Smyth, by contrast, is a clearly well-to-do woman of the Knightsbridge set, with a fur ruffle and a tiny dog at heel.

   She had only wanted to know the time. He had been quietly enjoying his homemade sandwiches from foil wrapped packages as they shared a bench in Hyde Park. A more odd couple could hardly be imagined.

   A casual observer would smile at these two companions sharing what one would assume was a rather forced conversation.

   What they might not notice would be the newspaper left on the bench as Gazza returns to work and the crossword puzzle with it’s cryptic answers which do not match the questions set. 

[A task to write something based on a passage from text - in this case on the social etiquette - from Cambridge University ICE Creative Writing course.]

Tutor feedback:

Re: The Rules of Silence by Elizabeth Speller [Author of] - Friday, 17 July 2020, 8:31 PM

That last line is brilliant! I wish I'd thought of it. Until then it's a small comedy of manners but the ending throws everything open to our imagination! It's a very good piece of micro fiction.

I like the way you preceded it with the quotation from socio-linguistics, too. 

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