This morning I took mother’s dog for a walk. On descending from Martin, as is her wont, she performed an extended micturition, and as she finished, from a distance of about twenty five yards or so, a middle-aged man shouted over, ‘I hope you’re going to pick that up!’ I say middle-aged, that’s just me, I’m sure that to some people he’s of an old age. For me he was between where I am and death. For others, for him perhaps too, close to death. Liberatingly close to death perhaps, because he had that freedom that old (middle-aged) people grant themselves: not to bother with manners or social etiquette any longer.
I decided not to engage with him, shrugged, and made to go on my way, but he halted and shouted again, this time from closer range, ‘what’s wrong with you people?’ Then he became agitated and pointing to various places from where he’d just come, ‘there’s one there. There’s another there. And there’s loads of it in there.’ I laughed. He didn’t have a dog. He took a step towards me, this time too angry to find the right words, so I said, ‘they have nothing to do with me.’
He turned as if to go, and muttered, ‘you’re all the ….. same,’ deliberately muffling the word fucking.
Now, I’m a reasonable man, and I can stand most things, including being wrongly accused of filling up the countryside with dog excrement, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s being told that I am the same as anyone else, so I said, ‘the only mistake I’ve made today is to come out at the same time as a prick like you.’ I sort of said it to myself rather than directly at him, and he couldn’t quite make out all the words, but nevertheless decided that he should feel insulted by them. He came back towards me again, this time more aggessively still, and said, ‘people like me are sick and fed up with the likes of you spreading your filth everywhere.’
I would have lost the argument if I was to resort to dragging him physically back to the place the dog had urinated, and I was never going to persaude an idiot like that, so I returned to the spot, and I said to him, ‘please show me what you’re talking about and I’ll pick it up.’ He wouldn’t have it, of course, but instead of engaging with him in his increasingly irrational tirade, I just kept repeating the words, until finally he edged towards me. We each spent a good five minutes scouring the area for dog turds, and when eventually he accepted that he had mistaken the dog’s female crouch for a shitting position, and that she hadn’t excreted, he said, ‘I’ll let you off.’ Then he added, ‘this time.’
A sensible person would have let it go then, realising that it was as close as you’d get to an apology from an imbecile like that, but not me. I told him why boors and bullies like him made the world such an intolerable place for people like me. By now a crowd had grown, and he, deploying a rhetorical device favoured by my father said, ‘oh, so my opinion doesn’t count. I’m not allowed to have an opinion am I?’ That received a murmur of approval from the crowd, so I decided to leave the conversation. I shouted back at him, ‘yes but you are a fucking retard,’ and set off to leave, but that really turned the crowd against me, some of whom claimed to recognise the dog, and so, therefore, eventually me, with whom they were not yet finished.
And that ladies and gentlemen, by allegory, is the story of my life.