This is not the blog I planned. This was supposed to be a really sweet and lovely blog about how good going for a walk is but this morning I went for a walk and my opinion on going for a walk has changed. You should never go for a walk unless you’re walking in the middle of the Sahara desert or Hoth or somewhere you are completely sure there are no other people. Let me make this completely clear to you: People are worse than the Nazis.
I was hungover this morning (“was”? Ha!) so perhaps seeing any other human being wasn’t a good idea but I have a dog and she needs walking. She likes the park. So do people. Maybe if I just keep my head down, close my eyes, block my ears and then cut my own head off I can avoid the stress of knowing there are other people around. I shuffled to the park and watched Jerk run around. It was a really beautiful morning. Lots of sunshine, the parakeets were squawking and Jerk was wagging her tail. It’s not so bad, eh? I’m feeling chirpier already. It’ll be a lovely day.
Then I saw her.
A woman in the park was trimming a bush. She was cutting large parts of it off and then putting them in her wheelie-bag. Luckily, she was quite far away so I had plenty of time to figure out what my opening gambit should be. Don’t want to sound aggressive or accusatory. I mean, she might have a very good reason for cutting off large bits of bush and collecting them in a wheelie-bag. Yes, this requires a gentle touch.
“Should you be doing that?”
OK, I’ll confess. I started the argument. I’m not the Park Police so “Should you be doing that?” is a bit much. That said, I’ve had even more time to think about what I could have said and I really can’t think of anything. “Stop that at once” is too bossy, “What are you doing?” is too stupid and “Blu-Tac hair-cut” is too mad.
“It needs trimming” she said as she carried on trimming. “Right”, I retorted. “Do you work here?”
The “no” was aggressive. She was angry now. I’d made her angry. Still, I’d made my point so it’s probably best that I just leave it at that. Anyway, I pushed on.
“It’s not very nice, cutting things from the park that don’t belong to you”.
“It doesn’t belong to anyone”.
“It does. It belongs to the park. Everything in here is for everyone to enjoy. You shouldn’t be hacking bits of bush off”.
“I’ll do what I like”.
“I can see that. I’m just trying to tell you that it’s rude”.
This is when she snapped. She stopped trimming to shout, swear and point her shears at me. I was on a train last week and told a man off for dropping the wrapper his straw came in from a small carton of juice and he shouted at me too. But what is more terrifying? A large man threatening you while drinking Ribena or a tiny woman shouting while waving pruning shears in your face? Answer: neither. They’re both stupid.
“You don’t work here either so you can’t tell me what to do. It’s none of your fucking business. It’s hurting no one. Just fuck off, OK?”
She went on like that for quite a while. I won’t repeat everything she said because there is a lot more swearing in it and I hate swearing now. Ugh, swearing. Not only did she use toilet words but she used them in front of her two kids. One a baby who was emotionless and one a child who looked at me as if to say “Look, she’s my mum and I love her. I know she’s a dick but she’s my mum”. After she stopped swearing at me I just said “Well, it’s been lovely talking to you”. Then she hit me with a whammy.
“My husband is very ill. I’ve been nursing him for over a month. This is his favourite bush”.
Right. When it comes to my time in life when I get ill, seriously ill, and it looks like I won’t be able to get better, just before I die I hope that Muki, my wife, will break the news to my friends, family and loved ones in the same way. “Michael is very ill. This is his favourite bush”. I don’t care what she points at as long as she says it. “This is his favourite bush”. In fact, I want every woman that I know to say it when discussing my decline. Anytime I’m mentioned after my diagnosis I want every single woman I know to only speak of my oncoming journey into the forever-sleep thusly: “You haven’t heard about Michael? God, it’s awful. The doctors can’t operate and he’s in a lot of pain. They reckon he’s only got a few weeks to live. This is his favourite bush” and then point to whatever you like.
Of course, now I just wanted out of the whole mess I’ve made but I suffer terribly from being a bit Michael Legge at times. Not that I replied straight away to her, I didn’t. I had a few seconds to think before I replied. Not that I was thinking about what to say next, I wasn’t even thinking about what she had said. All I was thinking was “Who has a favourite bush?” I mean, I understand a favourite flower or a favourite tree but no one has a favourite bush. “What’s your favourite bush, Graham?” “Well, Chester, as you asked, I’d definitely say it’s that green one that’s sort of but not quite round” NO ONE HAS A FAVOURITE BUSH. He just said that to get you out of the house. Anyway, my reply was….”Well, what if it was my favourite bush too?”
I think it was a good reply actually. It must have been because she just turned her back on me and went back to that ill man’s favourite bush. That’s when the two teenage boys appeared. I had seen them walking towards us but thought nothing until they passed us by. I heard them laughing but I never guessed what they were laughing at. As they passed they started pointing and laughing at the rude woman. They sarcastically called her sexy meaning that in their opinion she wasn’t sexy. It was horrible and I felt horrible. Her husband is ill, a flawless saint is lecturing her on bush trimming and now teenagers are calling her ugly. I turned to the boys and told them how much I fancied them. They are just so gorgeous, I told them, what woman would be good enough for them? “No woman is good enough”, one of them said very, very stupidly. “You know what that means”, I said with all the experience of doing shows to stag nights for 12 years. “You’ll both have to fuck yourselves”.
Basically, I defended the rude woman. The boys actually looked confused as they walked away. It can really pay to look like a nutter in the park when confronted by arrogant and cheeky youths. The rude woman thanked me and I said no problem. She went back to cutting off bits of bush. “Any chance you could stop that now?” I said. I thought that was fair. I’d defended her and her wheelie-bag was practically full.
“No. I need some more”.
“Oh, come on. After all we’ve been through?” I even gave her a smile.
“I didn’t ask you to get involved”.
It was now my turn to snap. I know she’s going through a tough time and is working through her pain by chopping up a bush and giving it to her husband but I can go mad too. “FUCK YOU”, I rationally shouted.
Obviously, when I left I realised that she had won that little spat. I had a point to make and I lost my ground when I shouted and swore in front of her children that she shouts and swears in front of. To make things worse, during that entire experience Jerk was chasing a butterfly and was looking ADORABLE. I missed most of that. I walked through the park feeling ashamed of myself. I need to calm down if I want to win an argument. I need to show poise and confidence and I need to be rational.
Just to let you know that during the writing of this blog I stopped for a minute to read a bit of Shappi Khorsandi’s book. Out loud. On a train. The man sitting opposite me on the train was reading his bible out loud to his wife, then she read out a bit aloud too. They shut up when I started reading.
That’s me. Calm and rational.
Tickets for POINTLESS ANGER, RIGHTEOUS IRE 2: BACK IN THE HABIT at this year's Edinburgh Fringe are now on sale here: http://tinyurl.com/6fclh2l
Kindle owners might like to know that my blog is now available to subscribe and read on your Kindle here:http://amzn.to/ho4Qr3