A few days ago this story was awful. In fact, it was pathetic. I recalled the story to neighbours who laughed mainly because they knew who and what I was talking about but also because they could see in my face how deeply disturbed I was by it. But time is a great healer. Sometimes when something awful happens to us we just need to be patient. Wait. It'll all sort itself out. And yesterday it did all sort itself out. If I was one of those karma believers that believed in karma I'd probably say it was karma or something. But I'm not. I'm a bloke who ends up in farcical situations all the time so it's probably just that. Again.
Ah, the park. If walking around Lewisham ever seems a bit too mad for you then I invite you to get off the street and go to the park. You have no idea what mad is until you go there. In the park this week I've seen a man dressed in just shorts and shoes dangling off a bridge, two girls taking mouthfuls of milkshake and then spitting at each other and a man and a squirrel sitting on the same bench and singing reggae. I watched that for ages and I started to suspect that the squirrel knew none of the words. Is there anything more adorable than man and squirrel finally sitting together and bonding over Bob Marley? Yes, there is. It's a very tiny puppy in a red polo neck jumper. I was throwing a ball for Jerk who thinks running after a ball again and again is the greatest thing that has ever happened to anyone ever. No, I don't see the appeal either. I did it once and it was rubbish and the ball tasted disgusting. But Jerk was happy running around and bringing the ball back for more. I wasn't happy about it at all because my body seems to have seized up this week. Over the past few days my shoulders have become stiff and achy, my legs feel fragile and painful and, trust me, you don't even want to know about my anus. Pain or not, Jerk needed to be walked so there I was shuffling like an old man (I'm not old, remember? I'm very young) and crying a little bit every time I feebly threw a ball. This running and ball chasing sometimes catches the eye of other dogs and at the other side of the park I saw a group of mid-morning alfresco drinkers with their dogs constantly staring at Jerk running and the ball they all desperatley wanted. It was fine though. The dogs were quite far away and, no matter how much they wanted that ball, I knew they'd be too lazy to do anything about it.
Well, one of them wasn't that lazy. One of them really wanted that ball. Despite being that far away and being the smallest of all the dogs gathered round the inebriated outdoorsmen, the tiny ickle adorable puppy in the tiny ickle adorable red polo neck jumper ran all the way over to me and Jerk. You could fit this dog in the palm of your hand. I put Jerk on the lead just in case she thought this tiny ickle adorable puppy was tiny ickle adorable food. He may have been small in stature but he was huge in spirit, running straight up to Jerk and licking her face. Luckily it was just my heart that melted, my body was in a bad enough state as it was. Anyway, that's when the shouting started.
The tiny ickle adorable puppy's owner started screaming for his dog to return. I hadn't a clue what he was shouting so there was no way a new puppy was going to figure it out. I decided to walk over to the owner and his friends and the puppy would follow us back to the loving arms of the scary screaming man. I had briefly met this man before about two years ago. He was talking to another man and his dog. I knew that dog. It was a beautiful Lurcher called Wednesday. I was with Muki who fucking speaks to fucking everyone and sure enough as we passed the two gentlemen and the dog, Muki had to go over and cheerily say "Hi, Wednesday!". It was then that the future scary screaming man turned around to reveal a tiny one-eyed Jack Russell under his arm and he said "And hello to Mr. Awesome".
This guy was big and loud and, well, I didn't like him. Even though I was walking his dog back to him, he was still shouting incoherently constantly. If you need to picture him in your head, this is what he looks like...you know the scary Irish man from Withnail & I who calls I a ponce? Well, that's him. That is exactly him. So let's just refer to him as Ponce from now on. Right, Ponce was still shouting his face off even when Me, Jerk and tiny ickle adorable puppy were back over with the other dogs and the wine tasters enjoying the bracing weather. He thanked me for bringing his dog back, picked it up and hit it on the head.
I didn't like that.
I asked him not to hit his dog. He looked at me as if I'd asked him what flavour his mum is. I told him that that's probably why his dog isn't coming back. Why would anyone come back if they know they're going to get hit on the head? "It was only a little hit", he said. And then something really bad happened. He is a big man, I am in pain already and finding it hard to move, yet somehow I said this: "Well, what if I give you a little hit?"
I immediately mentally shat myself. I desperately hoped he thought I said "hat" not "hit" but I could tell pretty quickly that he had seen I'd thrown down the gauntlet. I hadn't thrown down the gauntlet though, I'm just too weak to hold a gauntlet at the moment. Why the hell would anyone put me in charge of carrying the gauntlet anyway? I'm bound to drop it. More screaming erupted. I got scared. More screaming about how I shouldn't tell anyone how to look after their dog and how he's been raising dogs for years and how I should fuck off. I agreed. I should fuck off right away. But there was a bit more screaming at me to do first. This upset me, people walking by and, worst of all, the other dogs. They all started barking in my direction. All except Jerk who was pulling on the lead to leave. The fucking back stabbing deserter. Stay and take my punishment with me. One of the other dogs was muzzled. All muzzled dogs are scary. They're muzzled for a reason. They like the taste of blood and I have blood that I greedily want to keep for myself. The muzzled dog barked the loudest. Of course it did. It's a muzzled dog. It has a reputation to uphold. It's standing in the pack is clearest. "I'm muzzled, dangerous and in charge". The muzzled dog was right up at me now, barking and showing it's teeth. I'm never scared of dogs but this fucker looked like he meant business. I backed off, the muzzled dog moved forward. Shit. Is this dog going to attack me? Is this dog going to leap at me, shake it's muzzle off and go for my throat? Is this dog a...a...poodle?
It was a BIG poodle, OK? Not a little handbaggy toy poodle. It looked like two guys in a pantomime poodle suit so don't get all "It was only a poodle", alright? I started to move back quite quickly but I was stumbling because my legs hurt. I didn't fall but I thought I was going to. The confusion of walking backwards, the barking of a mad dog, the laughter of drunk men pointing at me and saying "He's scared of a poodle" made it hard to keep balance. Finally I turned my back on the dog and walked away as quickly as I could. Which was quite slowly. The dogs were still barking and the men were still laughing. I'll be very honest with you now: I felt pretty emasculated.
Don't get me wrong, even I think it's funny being attacked by a poodle but I can't help but think I'd have enjoyed it more if it had happened to you instead of me. I'm not saying the events of that day have haunted me ever since but they have popped into my head a few times. I got attacked by a poodle. Damn.
I don't think I'd ever have blogged this story unless there was a solid conclusion. And there is. Jerk and I returned to the park yesterday, just like we have done every day since the events of 25/11 (that's how we ALL refer to that day) and there were the guys drinking under a tree. The group was smaller this time but the poodle was there, the tiny ickle adorable puppy was there and Ponce was there. He laughed as soon as he saw me. I ignored him. I was feeling a lot better yesterday and I even thought "Yeah, I could fucking take him today" but no, best to ignore him. He called over a few times, "Any trouble and we'll set the poodle on you". But I ignored him. I'm above all that. "Get back, now. This poodle is deadly". God, I hate this prick. "Scared of a fucking poodle".
Fuck this. I stared right at Ponce and said "Do you think I give a fuck about being attacked by a mad, muzzled poodle? I couldn't give a shit. You hit your dog and I think you're a cunt and one more word from you and I'll boot your balls into your throat". That's what I said. IN MY HEAD. Instead, I just stared at him a bit while he laughed, threw his cigarette into a bin and confidently sat down on a bench.
The thing is, there was no bench there.
I watched him writhe about on the ground for a while as he swore his face off and the poodle started barking again. I felt that warm glow of joy return to my heart and I smiled...laughed even...as he eventually found his way to his feet. I know nothing of karma but I'm well aware of the joy someone falling over can bring when you're a bit down. Look at him, the big drunk shouty Jamelia. I get angry and upset a lot but look at all I need...look at what makes me happy. That's all my stress needs: slapstick. Cosmic slapstick.
My blog is available on Facebook, Blogger and Tumblr. It's daily Monday to Friday. Some blogs will be long, some very short. If you're too lazy to read my blog it's also available as a podcast atwww.soundcloud.com/michaellegge or you can subscribe to it on iTunes. All formats are free. That means if I'm doing a gig near you, please come and support it. I give you free stuff. That's fair, right?
This blog is also available on Kindle. It costs 99p a month and I do not recommend it at all. It looks nice though.