Something has happened to me in the last two or three years. I have become scared of going into town at night.
Even last week as I went back to my car at 5pm when it was dark with my Christmas shopping I nearly did a ninja kick to a girl behind me who I was convinced was going to knife me in the head and steal my kids’ Christmas presents. On reflection, the potential assailant was nothing more than a teenage girl wearing one of those fur trimmed hooded armless anoraky things, maybe walking just a little too close behind me, but nevertheless, minding her own chavvy business.
I have become easily startled, and going out and heading up Aberdeen’s main drag for any distance turns me into a quivering old lady.
Boys running past me in the street calling each other the C**T word equals me involuntarily shrieking in bloodcurdling fright.
Someone with a gelled to Hell and back shark fin haircut looking a nanosecond too long at me (probably because I’m looking at them) equals me dialling 999 and having my trembling thumb poised on the send button on my mobile phone lodged in my pocket.
Me having to (I’m starting to get palpitations just thinking about this) take out money from a cash machine WITH SOMEONE BEHIND ME. Someone who clearly is going to draw a blade across my throat and steal my money on the first bleep of the dispenser alarm equals me getting into such a state that I forget my PIN number and get my card swallowed up OR I end up withdrawing my card and going to the next ATM with no-one about and my car keys splayed through the fingers of my free hand like the blades of Edward Scissorhands or Freddy Kruger.
Has town got worse? Or am I just a terrible old wifey?
Actually, I fear that town is no worse than it ever was, I just don’t go out in it as much and have become the sort of woman who might conceivably start quoting the Daily Mail at dinner parties. Without even buying it or reading it.
To prove that the town centre at night-time has always been a borderline insane asylum I will leave you with this horrible story which involves my brother who had borrowed my Dad’s car for the evening. And, I must also say, that this might come as a bit of a shock to my Dad, as I’m not sure my brother ever told him. So two notes in advance of the telling; the first to my Dad and the second to my brother:
1. Dad, in fairness it wasn’t Shug’s fault. He was the victim of his own kind heart. This kind heart is what you should focus on to get you past the trauma of what you’ve just learned.
2. Shug, don’t panic. It’s not THAT story.
So my brother, Shug, is in town and has dropped off some friends at the top of Aberdeen’s main throroughfare, Union Street. As he is about to drive off, a teenage girl runs up to the car and complains that she is lost. She goes on to tell him about how she’s supposed to meeting pals at The Prince of Wales pub but she is new in town and doesn’t know where it is. At this point, both the girl and my brother are at the other end of Union Street than that that boasts The Prince (home of Scotland’s longest bar, fact fans). Union Street is a very, very long street. In fact, I thought it was the longest high street in the UK but Meeester just told me that I have made that up.
“It’s at the other end of the street. Jump in and I’ll give you a lift. I’m driving down there anyway...” he offers.
The lassie gets in and on the way down the road, she and brother chat a little. It turns out she’s over from Northern Ireland and it’s her first time in Aberdeen. She’s been in town for hours ,but has got lost. In fact, it turns out that she’s quite the chatterbox, and once they arrive at the Prince of Wales, she continues to chat incessantly. Ten minutes pass and my brother politely indicates that he needs to get going.
“So, em, here you are. The Prince of Wales. I need to go now, I’m meeting folk in another pub” he says jauntily.
She just looks at him silently.
“Right, out you get...” he says, less jauntily.
She continues to look at him with a slightly glazed look.
Is she pissed? Is she stoned? Has she inadvertently brushed against something and activated her Pause button?
“Right, I’ve taken you here, now get out the car” he says making himself perfectly clear.
She looks at him a little bit longer and then shrugs and gets out.
As my brother drives away he notices that the car smells of urine. The lassie has just sat in his passenger seat and pissed herself.
He rants and raves about this incident to this day.
See? Town..full of nutters. And here’s me out this Saturday night, the Saturday before Christmas. Incident is a certainty.