I went on a very long walk today, all over the place, I'll write about it properly at some point, probably tomorrow when I'm bored shitless. The thing that is currently springing up in my mind however, is a strangely frustrating encounter I had with someone as i was leaving Greenwich park today. As I was making my way towards an exit there was a small grouping of young people, I think it was a couple (or at least a girl and guy who were – consciously or subconsciously – giving the idea some thought) and two other guys. This sort of grouping is always bad; generally the two unattached blokes will be wheeling around and generally being twats, partly because they want to impress the girl but more (although they would never admit this, or even be particularly aware of it) because they are trying to get the attention of the distracted alpha male, like a bunch of five year olds whose mum is on the phone. I glanced at them when I was about 10 metres away but didn't consider them to be particularly worthy of notice. As I was walking past them however, one of them, the more strangely dressed of the two hangers on – who was shouting in a borderline incomprehensible patois I think is a mixture of south east London street and Turkish – started screaming insults at me and flung an empty drinks bottle at me whilst yelling all the insults he could think of, some directed at some feature of mine – fat, ginger hair, glasses, beard – and some just general cussing. He continued until I was some way off, gradually trailing off as he ran out of inspiration and motivation.
The thing that annoys me is how often this happens – just completely mindless attacks – he almost certainly wasn't looking for a fight like a proper nutter - he probably picked me precisely because he thought he could take me (he probably could – you have to get me very angry before I can be bothered to hurt anybody – if throwing stuff at me and cussing my momma had that effect I would have been expelled from secondary school in my first month) and because I don't look like much of a fighter. It happens a lot though, kids, usually in their teens, just randomly insult me, throw punches at me, heave stones at me. I have no idea why, it must just be something about my face. The worst incident I can remember is feeling a coke can bounce off the back of my head and hearing the unusual sound of a voice within arms reach – I spun round and came face to face with a boy who couldn't have been any older than 12, and I'm not going to hit a twelve year old, no matter how cocky the little fuck might be.
The most frustrating thing about it is that I'm used to these attacks and I've tried just about every way of reacting under the sun to them in the last decade or so. Reasoning doesn't work, neither do comebacks (witty or otherwise) - anything you say will be laughed at as if you'd just turned round and told them you'd peed yourself (plus my voice means that generally opening my mouth is an extremely bad idea). Violence doesn't work; there is always the suspicion of weapons backing up their otherwise unaccountable confidence and generally at any sign of a threat they scatter and hurl insults and projectiles from a safer distance. All in all the only method I've found that doesn't make things worse is just not reacting, if possible not reacting in the slightest – not even a twitch of a face muscle to reveal any awareness of the insults. This works, today the kid stopped pretty quickly, sounding a bit sheepish that his finely crafted insults had garnered no reaction whatsoever, but man is it frustrating, you end up spending the rest of your walk home pondering kicking some righteous arse, old testament stylee – meeting with the little shit and breaking some nose.
Which always leaves me feeling a bit worried by my own imagination.