The Cycle of Ignorance

Week Four

24 August 2012

I was crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing with a spring in my step and Active Child* in my cans. I had to bounce the last few steps to make it before the lights changed and just as I stepped onto the pavement I was cut up by a cyclist who swerved diagonally in front of me in order to press the walk button without getting off her bike, forcing me into a sidestep to avoid being hit. As I navigated the obstacle on the path I tutted. Rather ill-mannered of me I’ll admit but not as naughty as riding a bicycle on the pavement.

The cyclist had heard me and said something in response, the tail end of which I caught as I removed my headphones.
“…there’s no need to tut!”
“What?”, I asked incredulously, “You’ve just cut me up on your bike!”
“I said ‘Sorry’, there was no need to tut!”
“Did you? I didn’t hear you, I had my headphones on.”
“Yes, I know.” She replied accusingly.

Hang on here, I thought, there’s a rabbit off!
This young female student, with clearly a misplaced sense of entitlement, was being snarky with me because I had objected to nearly being hit while she was contravening the Highways Act 1835 which prohibits cycling on a footpath that is “by the side of any road” and “set apart for” use by pedestrians. I assume this particularly includes a pedestrian crossing. If she dismounted she would have obeyed the law and prevented our altercation. Also, we were in university territory with plenty of cycle lanes that she could have utilised.
I explained this to her but she was having none of it. I could tell by her response as she recommended that I should find someone to have sex with and that I was hirsute and illegitimate. She put more succinctly than that with a pithy “Fuck off, you hairy bastard!”

“Whoa, there’s no need for bad language.” I said and continued, not giving her space to reply, “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you say ‘sorry’. It’s obvious you’ve had a bad day and we can all be guilty of taking it out on someone else. I hope you enjoy the rest of your ride. You clearly need the exercise!”

Boom! Explosions were happening in her mouth as she spat and stammered at me, her face beetrooting up. By this point the lights had changed and she’d dismounted and begun to walk her bike over the crossing swearing at me further.

“Gosh, what a potty mouth you are!” I said.
A couple were crossing in the opposite direction and their mirth was clearly detectable on their faces.
“You’ve just fucking called me fat!” she yelled, reaching the isle in the middle of the road.
“No, I didn’t.” I corrected her, “I only implied that you were!”
I was actually finding the situation funny by this point; such fury had been unleashed by a simple tut. I couldn’t believe her arrogance and ignorance, her sense of being hard done to, when she’d committed a greater breach of conduct.

Don’t get me wrong, I have sympathy for cyclists. They suffer such inconsideration from motorists. I ride a bike occasionally and I know how scary the roads can be. But it is this experience that informs me about the need to be considerate and careful as we travel amongst traffic and people. Are we not, ultimately, all pedestrians?

“Have a good day.”  I called pleasantly after her and waved as she tucked her saddle between her ample butt cheeks and peddled with such fury that she’d thank me later for the good the exercise did her.



* If you don’t know them I’d urge you to investigate starting with –

For my favourite track/remix check out –


The Insolence of Children

Week Four

22 August 2012

Chuffed to bits that I’d got a batik shirt to wear on a yacht for New Year and happy that it was a bargain, I left John Lewis and sauntered through Eldon Square to the exit near Mamawaga. This particular exit is a set of steps leading down from the first level of the mall to Old Eldon Square, affectionately known as the Hippy Green. It’s lovely on a sunny day, like today, when people gather to eat lunch, or read, or hang out in gangs identifiable by the members’ attire. Mostly young alternative folks, the odd group of track suited youths,  elderly shoppers catching a breath and coffee drinkers spilling out from Starbucks, all congregate adding colour and life to the square.
I opened the doors and stood at the top of the flight of stairs.

Now I’d thought, of late, that I’d managed a couple of weeks without any encounters with public rudeness. The universe remedied that today by laying an opportunity for an impropriety lecture in my path. Literally.

As I stood at the top of the stairs I saw a gaggle of  kiddy goth gurrlz sitting on the bottom few. You know the type; all the make up and clothes but little extreme piercings and hairstyles that can easily be brushed out to look unremarkable and therefore avoid parental disapproval. They were sprawled over the bottom five steps occupying the full width. Two women were picking their way through the group, who clearly felt the pedestrians were a colossal inconvenience but were too inconsiderate to move for them to pass by. I drew closer, descending the stairs, and decided to ask them to move rather than navigate through them.

“Excuse me, please” I asked in a fashion I considered polite yet firm.

Nothing. No Response. I furthered “Excuse me!”, angrily, and was responded to with a tut. A tut?
“You know, this a pavement not a seat!”

“Ooh, this is a pavement not a seat” one of them chirruped back at me employing the childhood technique of mocking repetition which did nothing but annoy me and expose their immaturity. Another of them shot “There’s room” at me, surlily, as she lent to one side creating  a channel of air. If she’d had the common sense to move her arse instead there would have been foot space.

Sarcastically I told them that I was sorry to inconvenience them and proceeded to try and pick and tiptoe through the mass of bodies, handbags, shopping and discarded coats. They were snickering and making me feel quite self-conscious and, to tell the truth, a little unnerved. I tried to reach out for the handrail to steady myself but lurched and plonked my airborne foot directly on top of a small black square. The small black square turned out to be a handbag and, as I managed to reach the bottom of the steps, it’s owner started yelling at me as she discovered that her mobile phone, previously nestled in the small black square, was broken.

“You’ve fucking broken my phone” began a sentence full of expletives, it’s sentiments echoed by the rest of the clueless fucktards.

I paused momentarily, formulating a response, while a grin tweaked at the corner of my mouth. I couldn’t resist and, reminiscing about Granny Wrigglesworth and a phrase I always associate with her, decided to ‘give them a dose of their own medicine’.

“Ooh, you’ve broken my fucking phone!” I parried whilst holding an imaginary tiny handbag in front of me.

Litter is the Route of Impropriety!

3 August 2012


I’ve had a fairly quiet week and expected to get to the weekend all happy and incident free. I’ve not had to navigate the buses of Newcastle this week, instead I’ve been charioted around in taxis to appointments or otherwise driven by friends to supermarkets and secret tea rendezvous. Today I finished work at lunch time and decided to take a pleasant stroll through the parks of Heaton, enjoying the sunshine with a certain humanitarian aid worker (I mention this as it means I have a witness).
We were almost home, walking along Chillingham Road, the sun making the world seem brighter and more pleasant. recent worries were floating away from me, I was anticipating a nice cup of Hazelnut Chai, and felt groovy. We turned a corner, off the main road, and passed by three woman. One of them, I noticed, had dropped something to the floor. It was a brown empty envelope. I instigated conversation by saying “Excuse me sweetheart, I think you’ve dropped something.”
She replied “Aye, I kna it’s empty”. Apparently she had noticed the envelope on the ground and picked it up to see if there was any money in it. Upon her disappointing discovery that it was empty she let it flutter from her hand back to the pavement. After I had received this explanation I said “Oh I see, so you’re littering then.” Again she reiterated that the envelope wasn’t hers. I pointed out that there was a dustbin right next to her.

Her demeanour, which had been less than refined to this point, became course and base as she spat swears of the F nature at me. So while I was being verbally insulted, and the humanitarian aid worker rather sensibly kept out of the firing line, I picked up the envelope and put it in the aforementioned bin. The gaggle of girls walked round the corner, away from us, but continued to stick the V’s up at me and call me childish names. There was certainly a vicious mocking campness to their screeching, which I took for homophobic abuse and called after them that they were common whores. I know, shameful, but my accusation was based on their attire and accessories. The lead culprit had a coordinating row of scabs running from her jaw to the top of her shoulder. The reddish slightly blue marks clashed with her jaundiced vest top and her Poundland hair colour. In fact I think all three of them must have got a job lot of haemorrhage-red dye, so similar was their appearance. They obviously shared a fashion sensibility all decked out in short denim skirts and shorts (complete with muffin top flesh and corned beef legs), skinny vests, and large yellow gold earrings. They continued to scream obscenities at me and stick their fingers up at me, drawing the attention of other, well mannered, pedestrians. I smiled at them, allowing them to show themselves up more disgracefully than any shame they might have felt for the initial littering that drew my attention. Bidding them adieu I remarked at how very classy they were.
Heading home after our altercation the humanitarian aid worker commented on the encounter. Apparently it was the most ‘hilarimary’ thing he’d seen so I guess something good came from it.

Welcome, brace yourselves!

I have noticed over the last few years, whilst encountering the general public, that there is an increase in levels of rudeness and down-right ignorant behaviour. It worries and annoys me.
I have been ranting about it on my Farcebook page for a while but the time has come to climb onto to a (potentially) bigger soap-box. Here I will chronicle the encounters I have with people who don’t know what etiquette and propriety are, with people who are rude and offensive, and with people who are stunned or outraged to be challenged about their behaviour.

My first instalment dates back to November 2011, just to get you started, and I’ll be including archived escapades to fill in the lean times when people behave. Sometimes I get through a whole week without being incensed… sometimes I don’t.

November 22, 2011

I was feeling a bit under the weather with a tummy bug but had to go into Newcastle to pay a cheque into the bank. As I was walking, a man of retirement age turned and spoke to me causing me to remove my headphones and apologetically ask him to repeat himself.
He had witnessed two women kissing in the street and felt the need to tell me how ‘fucking disgusting’ it was. I asked him what he found disgusting and he replied, ‘Lesbians, and in public.’
An assumption? Maybe they were simply greeting each other hello. But so what if they are gay? I then told him that as they were harming nobody I couldn’t see the problem but would he be equally disgusted if the couple had been a man and a woman. He said that was different, I asked him how. He replied ‘Well, that’s normal’. ‘By who’s standards?’, I pressed.
He replied ‘The Bible’.
His fate was sealed.
I told him that the Bible says we should live and let live and in my opinion he was being unchristian and bigoted and would therefore go to hell.I told him that it was that mentality which prevent harmony and equality in society.
He then told me to mind my own business!!! – this was the thing that threw me the most and had to point out that it was HE who had solicited MY attention. I accused him of being a crotchety old bigot and it was that attitude that bred intolerance. I then asked him if he still thought slavery was a good idea, to which he replied ‘Go and get a job’
I asked him why he had assumed I was unemployed and informed him about how I was not only self-employed and worked two part time jobs for local charities but I also did 12 hours of voluntary work with the elderly every week.
At this point I was literally screeching in Old Eldon Square and drawing the attention of passers by. He then told me to mind my own business again to which I reiterated my previous response. He said if he was younger he’d teach me a lesson. I said ‘If you were younger I’d rip you a new arsehole you narrow-minded bigoted old curmudgeon’ ,only ashamed that I used the word arsehole – the only swear on my behalf, which is more than I can say for his potty mouth, regardless of how superior he might have felt. He escaped my wrath by going into a coffee shop, Vines I think it was, on the corner. I declined pursuit at this point for decorous reasons then stomped off to Waitrose to buy fabric detergent & coffee beans with my wages that I earned working.