I was making my way home from an evening with a friend in a local town. It was about 10.30, and the sky was that lovely tawny blue of almost-dark.
I’d parked the car in a busy car park, but by the time I returned there were only three cars still parked: mine, at the far end away from the road, and two closer to the road. One of the other cars that remained had half a dozen young men, probably in their early twenties, standing around it, laughing and talking.
And as I crossed the car park, they started to shout at me. They shouted insults. Specifically, insults about my coat.
I think it’s a nice coat. (Obviously, or I wouldn’t have bought it.) It’s a Jasper Conran mac that I bought earlier in the year, so it’s not outmoded, or strange. Granted, it’s serviceable rather than glamorous, unremarkable rather than breathtaking, but there are times when that’s just fine. Like when walking across a car park on a Tuesday evening, for example.
I didn’t feel as though I was in any real danger, but I did feel vulnerable. There was a sense of dread about what could happen next. I really didn’t want to be making that walk, but rather to turn round and head back to the safety of my friend’s house. I was braced for something bad to happen. I felt terribly alone.
I kept walking, outwardly-calmy, got to the car, put some music on, loud, and drove home.
On the way, I wondered why the emotion churning around in all of those places it likes to go – pit of stomach, solar plexus, knees – felt so familiar. Then I had a little flashback. Just for a moment, I was walking to the hospital again, heading for chemotherapy. Wanting to be almost anywhere else. Afraid of what might happen. Being in the hands of an oncologist I didn’t really trust. Not having any choice but to keep walking.
By the time I got home I was cross rather than shaken. This incident wasn’t the end of the world.
If you are someone who likes to stand around in car parks in rural towns shouting insults at women about their coats, I realise it’s unlikely that you’re reading this blog. But, you never know. So, I have two things to say to you.
1. Don’t. It’s really not funny or clever. It’s horrible, and unnecessary. You wouldn’t like it if it happened to your girlfriend/sister/mother. Or you, come to that. But I bet you didn’t pick on many men in what you considered to be bad coats, did you?
2. It’s lucky for you that you picked on my coat. If you’d been rude about my lovely, precious, brave breasts, I’d have unleashed my inner Ninja and you’d be really, really sorry now.
You have been warned.
That is all.