yet another sexual predator

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last night I worked late at an event, on top of a day in the office. High heels, a baby bump, very little sleep and a remit to ‘network with the journalists’ whilst not being able to sink my body weight in booze. Suffice to say industrial strength matchsticks were propping open my eyes on the train home.

Brilliant timing then for a drunken sexual predator to put in an appearance. Crossing the main road from the station, I turned into a side street to reach my car. A girl is in front of me, and on the other side of the road a dishevelled man is swaying from side to side and swearing. Seeing the girl in front of me he attempts to drop-kick his can of beer at her. He then runs across the road and decides to block her path, making her back up towards a garden fence. I run to catch up and tell him to ‘leave her alone.’ I could have probably pushed him over, but it’s dark down the side road and the other girl, like me, seems a bit nervous of the situation. He proceeds to get closer and closer to us, then he pretends to look in his jacket pocket, laughing all the while, and although it’s not his intention (he pulls out some tobacco) for a horrible moment it looks as if he’s trying to find a weapon to further threaten us with. At this point we both turn around and run back to the main road. Thankfully a black cab appears and we flag it down and quickly lock the doors. Lovely cabbie in shining armour drives us around the block and back to my car, and refuses to accept any money. I give the girl a lift to her front door.

The thing is, the drunk man was probably no threat whatever. But it doesn’t alter the effect it has on you. The adrenaline and the fear. I can never understand what makes certain men behave this way. I’ve been flashed at on three occasions, and again the men probably didn’t pose an actual physical threat, but it doesn’t make it feel less threatening. I get nervous walking home in the dark with heavy male footsteps approaching behind me, and am relieved that a lot of men seem to be aware of this and deliberately cross the road. 

Once I did have a terrifying experience on a dark London street. My sister and I were foolishly walking home at about 4am through a very dodgy part of North London. We had had far too much to drink and by the way we were zigzagging along the streets we may as well have had a sign announcing this in 3 feet high letters suspended above our heads. Most men wouldn’t approach us though, right? Well that evening at least three cars pulled over and their drivers tried to lure us inside. The worst though was a man who suddenly ran up beside us, grabbed my sister, and tried to pull her away with him. It’s incredible the way adrenaline can work. Looking at my sister’s panicked face, I sobered up in an instant. I grabbed her arm and for a moment it was like a tug of war between us. Somewhere in the depths of my brain I remembered a story that my mum had told me about being once threatened by a man when she was in a phonebox. She said she’d tried to make him see her as a person, and not a victim. So as we both tugged at my sister I started chatting to him. I introduced myself and my little sister, and told him where we were going and asked if he had had a nice evening. By this point we were still each holding an arm but I had pulled us forward and we were stumbling towards an intersecting road. He looked absolutely out of his skull, and could hardly reply, just kept pulling at my sister, and as I continued to inanely chatter, he kept showing me his other hand, which was clad in a sort of driving glove, with something metal clearly visible that he had tucked into it.

By some amazing stroke of luck, as we reached the next road, a car approached and I lurched forwards to try and get it to stop. The car stopped, and the windows rolled down, smoke billowing out, to reveal four huge rastafarians inside. One said simply ‘is this man bothering you, darlin’?’ and at that the man ran off as fast as he could. The rastafarians in shining armour then curb crawled my sister and I home to her front door.

So as I encounter yet another drunk, ignorant, man on a London street, I entreat all mothers and fathers to drum into their children the importance of (when they are big enough) coming to the aid of others who appear to be under threat. And if you ever happen to be walking behind a lone girl at night, please do go out of your way to cross the road.

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