Can knocking an elderly woman to the ground ever be truly justified?
Now bear with me…
Until recently I would have been first in the queue valiantly defending the wellbeing of our senior citizens. However, two weeks ago I found myself backed up against a wall; my arms raised in order to block the jabs of a vicious attack. My assailant – a 75-year old woman – slipper-clad and standing on tip toes so that her head reached all the way up to my belly button. Her fingers probed my ribs as she bombarded me with a barrage of expletives whilst her husband stood next to her; his sleeves rolled up revealing cliche-inducing anchor tattoos. I wasn’t yet clear what all the fuss was about. It seemed to be something to do with not having answered my front door quick enough and partly to do with how I’d parked my car, but there also something about my grass being too long and a swear-peppered rant about how many times I’d put the wrong bin out.
Over the road a crew of workmen had stopped digging and were watching the scene unfold with a growing sense of incredulous joy. One of them made a hand gesture that implied I should crack her in the chops; egging me on in a way I felt certain would later prove unhelpful in explaining my actions to a judge.
I am not exaggerating any of this for comedic effect. This is verbatim. Ladies and gentlemen: meet my next door neighbours – a couple of proper old school sexist, racist, self-righteous, indignant, hiding in a bungalow and unaware of the last 30 years types.
‘Next time I knock on your effing door, you effing open it.’
‘Surely it’s my prerogative as to whether or not I want to receive visitors?’
‘Don’t you answer my wife back you effing effer,’ roared the husband.
‘You’re both being very rude,’ I countered. ‘I can assure you that I can be ruder than the two of you put together, but I’d rather not, especially seeing as we don’t seem to be arguing about anything important.’
‘You were very rude to me the other day,’ the woman shouted. ‘You called me nosey.‘
‘Do you mean the time I caught you peering through a letterbox and declaring ‘They’ll never get the asking price with that wallpaper’?’ I replied. The retort was met with further abuse and posturing.
A bit of context: Earlier in the year the pair had come over to berate me for having an extension that blocks the light from their kitchen. I pointed out that the building had been erected before I was born and that I therefore couldn’t be held accountable for any decisions made. More importantly, having held a grudge for 40-odd years I suggested that it was possibly time to let it go. Other complaints have included ‘I don’t like the colour you’ve painted your house,’ and ‘I don’t like you talking to the woman next door as she’s clearly a prostitute. If you go round, try and keep your pants on.’
I’d love to say that I endured the onslaught with good grace and took the moral high-ground, but in truth I felt a red light go on in my head, and holding my diaphragm I screamed something so spectacularly offensive that they were both stunned into silence. I would be ashamed to repeat the phrase. Suffice to say that, in the intervening days, I have been unable to think of anything more vulgar. What a joy it was to see the husband’s gut-reflex betray him. Instinctually a shocked chuckle escaped his lips, drawing the full force of his wife’s glare.
I seized upon the moment. ‘Look, the 3 of us have a combined age of 186 and here we hurling insults in the street. Can’t we simply agree that we have different priorities and need to be better at considering each other opinions?’
Reluctantly they accepted that they could.
‘Great,’ I concluded with a sense of mature fulfilment, ‘Now f$c& off.’