There are times when the presence of the “boys in blue” is seriously appreciated. Today was one such.
We – myself, andrea and the boy – were stood in Peterborough coach station, awaiting the arrival of the coach for London, and the departure of our weekend guests.
The usual mid-day crowd. One or two rude stares – when aren’t there? And a guy in a flak jacket who walked past us, then stopped, turned, and got seriously in my face. As in: stepped close, stared, stepped closer, and then inquired: “are you gay then?”
(The exact phrasing may have been a tad ruder: i have to say i was sufficiently worried not to have been taking notes).
As he walked past andrea she added her own two-pence worth. “Ugly” was the word she used. Accurate, too. But seriously unwise, given that the bloke in question was red-faced and reeking of booze (a fact that she didn’t notice until after she had spoken and after he decided to get seriously in HER face).
A certain amount of rudeness ensued. I backed off, calculating that anything that escalated the situation was likely to be bad. Andrea, too, did her best to defuse the tension – not helped by said bloke adding various additional comments about “poofs” and the information that “he’d been in jail once”.
Touch and go. The bloke wanted vindication. Andrea was doing her best to swallow her natural instinct to add further insult to the smouldering conflict (and doing fairly well). Still, I was wondering when – as opposed to whether – he was going to lash out.
Then, as if by magic, two police officers appeared. They greeted the drunk by his first name (perhaps a sign that he was well known to them already) – and he subsided. Together with his (slightly less drunk) mate, he headed for the exit, with the police placing themselves squarely between him and us.
We breathed a sigh of relief.
About ten minutes later, he and his mate pointedly walked back past andrea. I was off elsewhere sorting out hair dressers. They made some parting shot about her being on her own. This time, she, just as pointedly, ignored them.
All’s well that ends well. Still, it made for an unpleasant few minutes – and a sharp reminder of what can happen even in the most ordinary of surroundings.
Broad daylight – and a lot of fear.