Teaching has not been the only occasion of my soliloquies. I have spent large chunks of time with small and larger children, my own and my own's own. A constant barrage of 'Why?' from earliest toddledom is followed by years of 'How do you spell . . . ?' and 'What does ?? mean?' and Where's . . . ?' interspersed with my homilies on subjects ranging from the inadvisability of wearing four-inch heels and bare legs in the middle of a cold snap to the wisdom or otherwise of sailing in a Force 9 gale.
There have always been animals around as well, mingling with children of various ages and sizes so of course they must be included in conversations and greeted on returning from outings. I reassure the birds as I set out their food and ask the fish and frogs if all is well in their watery world. The plants and trees are given encouragement and I marvel at the bees and congratulate them on their pollen-collecting skills. I even talk to spiders to ask them to please keep their distance.
There is little wonder then that I talk all the time.
Our children are grown and flown and visit frequently for short periods when everyone talks at once and no-one listens. The dogs and cats listen intently until they have been fed, watered or exercised, then they sleep. I know Barry hears me but often doesn't listen (or register) for he inhabits another planet entirely so usually I am alone, though never lonely.
The advent of the mobile phone has been a blessing for me for now it is completely normal to look as if one is talking to oneself but even thus, it is a give-away when I say enthusiastically, 'Oh, look! Look at those flowers . . . or sheep . . . or shoes' and there is no-one anywhere near me. I can never understand people who say, 'I didn't know I'd lost my voice because I didn't see anyone to talk to.' I would know instantly and then ask myself why I was whispering.