I was doing Pause for Thought on the BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Show this morning. It’s not always easy to know what to say about what, especially when you have to write he script a day or two ahead of the game. ‘Events’ might intrude in the interim…

Anyway, this morning it was a casual conversation that got me going:

A couple of days ago I had one of those conversations that leaves you confused – not about the content, but how the conversation itself ever happened in the first place.

I was having a chat with a woman in a shop and I remarked that I hoped we’d sort the Swedes out on Friday. She said the best way to deal with swedes is to chop them up, boil them, then roast them in the oven. At least, that’s what I think she said. The problem was, I was talking about Euro 2012 and England’s chances on Friday while she was thinking ‘vegetables’.

This reminded me of when I was a kid in Liverpool. Two neighbours were having a chat one day about the ants. It was only when Mrs Green went into detail about how, when even Nippon failed, she resorted to pouring boiling water down their hole, that Mrs Howard twigged that she wasn’t referring to the two elderly spinster ladies she had been talking about. In Liverpool we didn’t distinguish between ‘ant’ and ‘aunt’.

I remember this every time I find myself not listening to what someone is actually saying and jump to conclusions about what I think they are saying. And this happens a lot – not just to me, but to all of us. What we hear is not always what is really being said.

Remember the disciples mishearing Jesus in Monty Python’s Life of Brian? “Blessed are the cheese makers? Of course, he means producers of all dairy products…”

We do this with Jesus all the time – making him say what we want to hear him say, rather than what he actually said. We duck the hard stuff. We can confidently propagate the stuff about ‘loving your neighbour’ – even if we find it easier to say than to do – whilst quietly ignoring the embarrassing stuff like ‘deny yourself, pick up that cross and come with me’.

What we hear isn’t always what is being said. So, when I say I hope the Swedes get battered on Friday, you know what I mean.