I PREDICT A RIOTER
I’ve been back in the UK for four months now and, to be honest, I can’t think why I left it so long to relocate from Nice: there’s been torrential rain almost every day, unbelievably chilly temperatures, and much of London – along with large portions of England – erupted for a while into days and nights of anarchy with looting, random arson attacks on shops and homes, and the odd murder – perpetrated by both police and civilians alike. Almost makes me nostalgic for the miserable Nicoise and their jolly sport of trying to shove you under a passing tram just because…er, well, just because. (Isn’t that enough of a reason for God’s sake??? Merde!!!)
There’s not been much rowdiness in my arty part of town, however (although someone did brush past me in an upmarket grocery store to grab the last pack of rocket and only said sorry twice, tsk), but it was lovely to take calls from my friends in Nice
seeing if I’d managed to find a balaclava that didn’t mess up my hair too much to check on my safety.
Naturally I reassured them, although if truth be told I was actually set upon during the days of the civil unrest by an aggressive youth whilst minding my own business in a card shop.
Cordelia had come for lunch, and after we’d eaten and enjoyed the usual girlie chat – handbags, shoes, the complicity of the upper echelons of the British political elite in maintaining murderous dictators in power – we walked into town to do a little light shopping. Cordelia needed to buy a birthday card and so we stepped into a very small, but perfectly formed, stationery store for a browse.
After a couple of minutes I felt a sharp pain in my side. I looked down. There, staring up at me as if to say Get out of my way you stupid bitch was a small child on a scooter, which he had rammed into my body with impressive strength in one so young. I looked at him. He looked at me. He wasn’t about to un-ram his scooter from my torso, possibly because the handlebars had become interestingly enmeshed with my clothing. (Two T-shirts, three sweaters and a rainproof jacket that inflates into a 4-seater rubber dingy, if you must know. It’s summer, OK???)
I – politely – said I think I’ll have my clothing back, thank you. And I moved to disentangle myself.
At which point his mother suddenly appeared three millimetres from my nose and shouted DON’T YOU TALK TO MY SON LIKE THAT, HE’S ONLY 5!
I calmly tried to explain to her what had happened, but she – and her mother – started shouting over me. And so I patiently endeavoured to describe the collision again, not to mention point out that I was admirably refraining from wrapping this inappropriate mode of transport in a small shop around his tiny neck. Once more torrents of abuse spewed forth from their mouths. HE’S ONLY 5!!! YOU CAN’T TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT CHILDREN, WE WORK WITH THEM!!!
And so, I enquired, at what age DO you teach them about wilfully driving into people with sharp metal objects?
More shouting ensued.
Another customer looked at me with sympathetic incredulity. We both raised our eyebrows and looked heavenwards. I then happened to espy a card on a shelf in front of us which proclaimed I DON’T NOT LIKE YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE UGLY, IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE A **** (Nothing would induce me here to type the letters C U N T so you’ll just have to imagine what the missing word was). I pointed out the card and asked my new friend if she thought it was too late to purchase it and pop it in the post to somebody not too far away from us.
The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is currently 10 years old. This child is already 5. I’m wondering during which year of his life his mother will – in a sensitive manner, so as not to hurt his feelings – inform him that ramming hard objects into strangers is not generally considered to be a good idea in a liberal democracy. (Nope, he definitely did not look like he came from Sirte to me. Although, come to think of it, he was protected by a formidable army of female bodyguards…hmm).
It possibly wasn’t a great idea for me to leave the shop calling out Happy rioting! in a loud voice, but sadly, at the time, I didn’t happen to have with me a large metal object on wheels with which to make my point to the ignorant minders of the tiny thug. And I’m already worrying about the fact that the prison population is currently stretched to its very limits – do you think there might be room for one more in five years???
Tell you what, forget him, just find a couple of spaces for his relatives.