‘Would you remind removing you penis from my arm,’ I say very clearly and very loudly on the 7.30am Silverlink train from Dalston to Camden Road. Oops, my middleaged tourettes has kicked in a little early this morning. Factor in raging PMT and we might be in for a bit of bumpy ride today.
Well I’m sorry, I’m innocently sitting reading my book and I feel someones presence a little too near, I move around and try to make it known he is (in my daughters words) entering ‘my like personal space bubble.’ Still he doesn’t move, in fact he gets even closer, so close in fact, I am wondering which part of his anatomy I can feel rubbing against my arm. Then something snaps and I say whats on my mind.
He pretty quickly moves away (well as far away as he can on a packed train) and looks sheepish and embarrassed. Well I assume he does, I haven’t actually looked him in the eye. There is an air of tension in the carriage and a few people titter (mainly women) and I feel proud that I have represented the moral majority and stood up for women who have to endure rude men on a daily basis. I even fantasize about starting a ‘women reclaim their space’ campaign on London transport. I get off the train and walk to work with my held head high.
Later, when I calm down and reflect on my outburst I realize I am doing this more and more. Is this a symptom of age, or have I always been a stroppy old bag?
I remember in my 20’s, waiting two hours to see a hairdresser at Trevor Sorbie. I waited patiently, feeling more and more anxious, had they forgotten me, should I say something? Then when I eventually had my hair done, I didn’t even like it, but left exclaiming how fabulous it was (mind you, I still do that, what is it about hairdressers that is so intimidating?) I was such a little mouse, afraid to upset people, desperate to be liked, even by strangers. But no more, oh no, the older I get the less afraid I am to complain and take issue with things. For some reason these situations usually seem to arise in public and often on London transport.
Another early morning escapade involved tackling some rather loud (and huge) teenage girls on the bus. They were rude, loud and unpleasant and most importantly children. In my day (did I actually just say that?) rude, loud children were told to be quiet. So I did, very politely and very succinctly in front of a very crowded bus. ‘What are you gunna do about it, you cant do nuffink,’ they replied. I pulled myself up to my full height (5ft 3 inches) well actually, I was sitting down, but I did it mentally! ‘Oh yes I can, I can go and speak to the driver and get him to throw you off the bus.’ You could almost feel the groan from the other passengers, Here we go, a middlegaged women on a rant, we’ll never get to work now!
Other peoples reluctance to get involved, only fuels my indignance and makes me more determined to stick up for what what is right. On another occasion (also on a bus) I actually stood at the front and addressed the other passengers in a ranting, preacher in a gospel church, kind of way. ‘Did anyone else see the way this driver just drove down the centre of the road, he is a danger to the public and shouldn’t be driving a bus. Is anyone going to back me up here?’ Apparently not, oh apart from one (yes, you’ve guessed it) other middleaged women!!
Of course if I’m with my children and decide to take issue with someone, they cringe with embarrassment at my behaviour. On entering the T Mobile shop with my daughter recently, she took one look at the queue and said, ‘No mum, I don’t think so, there’s no point, it’ll only wind you up.’ She knew only too well that I would huff and puff at the inefficiency of the staff and eventually say something hideously embarrassing (in her eyes) and constructive and helpful (in my eyes).
Middleagedad also thinks I should calm down and now refuses to visit cafes at service stations on the M1 with me, after I suggested to the staff they might like me ‘to get behind the counter and help them devise an efficient system!’
Surely if we all spoke up the world would be free of men who sit with their legs wide open and make you sit half on/half off the bus seat, rude teenagers, dangerous drivers, people who drop litter, inefficient shop assistants, oh I could go on forever.
Never mind the community police (who my son informs me everyone ignores, as they’re not real police) what we need is ‘community grumpy old women.’ Give us a uniform and a bit of authority and surely the world would be a better place and I know just the person to be in charge!!