Strangers I have told to fuck off

MARCH 09 07

Now and then I have been known to give a piece of my mind to a stranger, without the slightest concern for the risk to my well-being. The one I remember best was this fat geezer running a market stall in Walthamstow about ten years ago. He had the strawberry punnets piled high. You know the routine. One or two really large beauties on top, albeit tasteless when you get home, and then a rotten mass at the bottom flirting with half green bastards that you nibble the tit off and chuck the rest away. So anyway, four punnets for a pound. Good value. So I was selecting my own four. Guy didn't like it did he, he wanted to do the selecting. He said, quite politely for an Essex wanker:

'I'll choose the strawberries sir, if you don't mind.'

I pretended not to hear him and carried on. He kept saying it.

'I'll choose the strawberries sir, if you don't mind.'

By this time I'd got three punnets I thought were worthwhile, I was sort of gathering them together in a little space in front of me so he could select these ones.

'I'll choose the strawberries sir, if you don't mind.'

I just thought I've had enough of this and turned and walked away, saying under my breath:

'Fuck you and your strawberries.'

Within a split second he had leapt over his stall and was coming at me with his fists up while 15 of his Essex wanker mates stopped unloading manky lychees off the forklift and chanted:

'Knock im one Tone, knock the bastard down!'

I must have been in Zen master mode. I turned around, still keeping my hands in the pockets of my greatcoat, and fixed the guy with my glare. I was actually in the esoteric martial arts position called 'Antai', although I don't think I thought about it at the time. This is where you become unknockable-down. 'As stable as Mount Tai.' Antai. So I'm standing there and I see immediately his advance is checked by my physical stance, hands still in pockets, like yeah I'm concerned. Cunt wanted to frighten me but this cunt ain't frightened.

'Knock im Tone. Knock im down.'

Tone's mates were givin it some.

This all happened in a split second. He's coming at me with his dukes up, tough geezer. My hands are still in the pockets of my big coat. I fix him in my glare and say VERY LOUD like a Zen shout:

'SETTLE DOWN!' and then I add, 'What you gonna do are you gonna assault me in the street are you and go to prison is that what you're gonna do?'

Thing is, I have this knack of reading people. No, he wasn't going to do that. That's for certain he wasn't going to do that. One second before he might have done it but this second no, not an option. I'm facing him out not with violence but the inevitable consequences of his own actions, handed to him on a saucer for him to lap up like the pussy he really is, I make it plain to him he's facing a stretch inside and that's my dagger in his guts if he really wants to know. Big moment of truth for the guy. I read it all in his face in a split second, hands still in my pockets. So now he's a fucking jerk and I'm pinning a little bunny tail on his arse and sending him away.

'Knock im one Tone.'

Even Tone's mates can see this ain't Tone's day. I turn to walk away, laughing. But fate has the last laugh as the crappy plastic bag looped on my arm they put my four pound of apples in splits open and the apples roll under the stall. A fair trade. Karma always needs equalizing and better that than meeting a guy with a spider tattooed on his face in a dark alley.

So anyway, I sometimes tell strangers to fuck off. It's bad of me I know, but sometimes it just needs doing.

Like the other night in the pub. They were holding a real ale festival. British beers. Stupid Union Jacks on bunting everywhere. Looked like Nazi headquarters. And a few headbangers were in. Normally quiet pub, go there every week after Writers' Club, talk about literature and lesbians, how many actresses we've shagged, the usual. But this week it's like we've strolled into a nutter convention. I first noticed nutter-1 peering over Paul's shoulder. Just loitering, listening. I was talking about Aleister Crowley and sex magick or something, and he was earwigging. I thought at first maybe he's an occultist and I've peaked his interest. He had that pissed occultist look about him, where the dark shutter goes down. Reminded me of Gerald Suster the way he was swaying about. I thought it's Gerald's ghost come to haunt me. But I dismissed the thought and changed the conversation to the best use of semicolons. He appeared just as interested. He was obviously a wanker listening out like a wind sock for a conversation to jump into. I forgot about him, only to hear him try to start a conversation with Paul about Madness. Well, I assumed he meant the band, Paul told me later that as far as he was concerned insanity had been the topic.

So then nutter-2 appears from nowhere, like a bat flitting into the room singeing its wingtips on the candles. He appeared to want to start a conversation with Amber, must've fancied her. He was standing back and calling her closer to him with a crooked finger. He had something he wanted to whisper in her ear. I thought this is going to be some chat-up line.

'Where are you from?' he said.

'Wigan,' she said.



Inspiration left him.

Amber was more bemused than annoyed. Like what to do, this nutter wants to talk to me, shall I go with him guys? Anyway, to cut a long story short, Paul says to me, you're nearest, which I took to be a rather wimpy invocation of my male pride, like I should do something, the implication being that of course he would have, had he been closer. Up until then I'd been quite content to see Amber get out of it on her own. But oh no, now male pride was involved. Stick up for the girlie. You're two centimetres closer than I am so it's down to you my friend. Oh well, it's not as if I find this kind of thing difficult.

It was pleasant enough to begin with. Engaged the feller in a discussion about atheism, which he seemed to want to talk about, then I told him to FUCK OFF.

'Gew on mate, FUCK OFF, we're bored of you now.'

I might have been prepared to tolerate him if he had anything interesting to say about the non-existence of God, but he'd got to about page 9 in 'The God Delusion' before the bookmark put its feet up and made itself at home.

'No, really, fuck off.'

He couldn't move. Fight or flight was setting in in s l o w m o t i o n, but he couldn't do either, I'd snatched his will out of his hands and now it depended on me. He was mulling over aloud whether I'd insulted him. Fuck off sounds insulting. He couldn't make his mind up. This is a guy who has probably been eaten by warthogs in a former life.

I made it plainer for him. A clearer instruction. Something he can actually do.


He complied. He had no choice. I'd turned it down a notch, he was sucked out of our presence like Alien out of the airlock. Never knew what hit him, flailing about in outer space getting smaller and smaller.

So anyway, ever since Amber has wanted me. Girls, they like to make out they're above it but they love those clashing antlers, they love those elephant seal belly flops, those walrus tusks going into baby flesh. And a little later nutter-1 accosts nutter-2 right behind me. Like a stag beetle giving it large with a praying mantis.