A strange convergence of activity last week meant the only free night I had to attend the St Albans Beer Festival with my chum Miles was Saturday night. I’m not a fan of Saturday nights out in town generally as there are a lot of people out and about and a lot of them seem to take part in a competition to see who can vomit most copiously in a doorway.
Still, needs must and we decided that a 6.15pm embarkation time would see us good. The beer festival was indeed heaving, and not in a pleasant way. Real ale drinkers are more often than not bearded and portly, with only an infrequent acquaintance with either the shower or deodorant. Still, we had a good old time, including a rather large hotdog each. But by about 11pm we’d had enough and most of the decent ales had long gone (it was getting towards the end of the final day of the festival after all), so we decided to head off.
My walk home from work normally takes me through the park and jolly pleasant it is too. However my chums wife has made walking through the park in the dark verboten for him. I can fully understand the logic- it’s dark, remote and more than a bit spooky. Personally, I walk through it all year round with a high intensity torch and during the winter I seldom see a soul- it’s out of the way. Whether I’m right or wrong to have the opinion that you’re unlikely to get mugged in the park as it’s too out of the way, I don’t know, but in the 7 years I’ve been walking through it I’ve yet to be mugged. Now I’ve said it I’ll probably get stabbed in the face within the next 7 days but there you go.
Anyway, we walked down Holywell Hill, one of the main thoroughfares in St Albans. It was politely lit at that late hour and so we were able to see the two children coming towards us. I call them kids, they certainly didn’t have to bother shaving more than once or twice a month at any rate. They were wearing the kind of shiny colourful tracksuits that have never seen any sporting field but, and I might be a little unfair in saying this, have probably taken part in some running away from officers of the law at some point. They also had baseball caps balanced on their heads. You know, they weren’t actually wearing them but had them sort of resting on top of their heads.
“Got a fag mate?” the thinner of the two hustled as I approached. I wasn’t about to fall for that, it’s been around 20 years since someone first tried that on me (Manchester if you must know) and I said “Nah mate, sorry.” without even breaking my stride. The n’er do weller somehow contrived to barge into me as he walked past and I instinctively smacked his hand away as he tried to extricate my phone from the front pocket of my trousers. I assume he was after my phone and not my penis. I’m rather fond of my penis, as is wifey but I have to be realistic about it. There is probably plenty of penis out there a young man in a shiny tracksuit can and does have access to ahead of my thirty eight year old john thomas. I think he was probably trying to steal my phone rather than initiate an amorous encounter.
He did seem quite cross when we didn’t stop. His chum started chuckling and telling him to calm down as he shouted out exhortations for us to stop. As we got further away he went on to detail his amourous adventures with my mum. She’s just turned 70 and whilst still a bit of a goer, I think it probably had to be a case of mistaken identity because he seemed a bit insecure in himself by the time I deemed the distance sufficient enough to give him the finger and shout “Fucking School kids” a little bit more quietly than I really should have.
I initially felt a bit put out that the youth started on me and not my buddy who was about half a foot shorter than me*. Was I really the easier target? That felt a bit harsh to me. It wasn’t exactly bowl loosening terror, the bloke who cut me up at a roundabout and then threatened to break both my legs for me when I expressed my irritation was the only person who’s genuinely terrified me in that sense, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience and I spent the next few hours regretting not being big and musclely enough to give him a right proper bitch slapping or whatever it is people do in these situations.
*I’m being kind. I know he’ll read this