I was happily walking along the River Test at Houghton on Friday when out of nowhere, I became involved in an extraordinary incident.
It began as I walked past a lady in her sixties who was picking blackberries. I gave her the good old English nod accompanied by a hearty ‘what a lovely morning’ greeting that was a reflection of a fine and crisp autumn day. Standard stuff, I am sure you will agree.
The lady stopped picking and stared at me up and down like a disgusted headmistress, giving my dog similar treatment without uttering a word back to me. It was very bizarre and like nothing I have experienced in my two years as a dog owner.
As I walked on, I said “miserable old boot” under my breath, something that I bet you have all done in your time when greeted with blatant rudeness. Unfortunately, I did not realise that her husband was also picking away on the other side of the bush and he heard my description of his adorable wife.
As a result, he rushed in front of me shouting “WHAT DID YOU SAY…WHAT DID YOU SAY?” in my face as I tried to walk past. I attempted to explain that I was saying the words to myself not directly at her but my efforts were in vain. His face, if it was on a Dulux colour card, would be described as ‘Incandescent Red’ and he was not about to let this one go.
I tried to pass him but he blocked my way, demanding a grovelling apology which he was not going to get from me as it was totally unwarranted. As I moved to his left, he swung his arm at me catching me on neck and shoulder as I moved out of the way.
The result of this was that lost balance and fell over, almost comically finding himself kneeling in front of me like a beggar. Rather than taking the opportunity to kick him in the head, I tried to help the silly old fool up to his feet but the old battleaxe had found her voice at last and she started screaming at me, telling me that she was going to get the police.
So, just to recap, at this point, I had not made a single aggressive move towards these two lunatics but they were threatening me with violence and the police. Can I also add that these people weren’t rough types; they were well dressed in country wear and on face value, they appeared educated and probably reasonably well off.
As I gathered up my alarmed dog and went on my way with the abuse fading into the autumn breeze, I wondered what on earth was going through the heads of people in their sixties that made them want to pick fights when they should have been concentrating on picking blackberries? If they carry on like that, someone with a short fuse will beat them to a pulp.
My fear was that the old fool was going to have a heart attack and I was going to somehow get the blame.
For a moment, I wondered whether it was because I was young and they didn’t like young people. Then I remembered that I am not young anymore, I am nearly 50, so only 15 years or so younger than my assailants. Like most people of my age group, I keep forgetting I am middle aged; the 1990’s still only seems like a year or two back.
Then I thought that they may have felt threatened by my dog. However, that couldn’t have been the case either, as my dog is a spaniel that wants to be friends with the population of the planet (except pheasants and rabbits) and in any case, if you are scared of dogs you don’t attack the owner do you?
Then on Saturday morning, someone sent me a list of comments sections from various media organisations, notably, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. I’m telling you folks, there is a generation of people in their sixties who are absolutely seething about winning the 2016 EU referendum.
Angry Victory: Britain’s Newspapers are full of seething nationalists
They are so angry that it makes you wonder what on earth would have happened if the referendum had swung in favour of remaining in the EU. Since that dreaded day in June 2016 and the near capitulation of the Conservative Party at the snap election, nutjobs have been unleashed all over the shop.
The blame has to lay at the feet of the media and social media where newspapers like The Mail are prodding previously sedentary folk with populist hatred of almost anyone who doesn’t fit their 1950’s Miss Marple stereotype. I know a chap who lives in Hammersmith who was once a journalist at The Mail and their main purpose was to wind innocent people up with spiteful tales about the poor, immigrants or single mothers.
However, it is getting silly now, because angry nationalism is becoming really popular, in fact so popular, people are appearing on comments pages in newspapers offering congratulations to Nazis in Germany who are back in parliament for the first time since 1945. We are in a world where a student gets banged up over a drunken comment on Twitter about a footballer yet openly congratulating Nazis is seen as normal…mad isn’t it?
That’s right, the same people who are proposing that we use the ‘Spirit of Dunkirk’ to guide us through exiting the European Union, are pointing fingers at people down the local pub and saying “See, those German fascists, they have got the right idea…we need to be more like them!”
Predictably, that little worm, *nigel farage, was the first to offer his congratulations to the German far-right who as a key policy, are kindly promising to make Germany great again and rid themselves of immigrants. Get your history books out and see when they last attempted that…while you’re at it, have a little read about the ‘Spirit of Dunkirk’. Find out why those beleaguered soldiers were such deep trouble and what ideology they were trying to protect Britain from.
Fascists like Trump, *farage and Le Pen.
These billionaire owned newspapers are encouraging hatred for their own gain and pursuit of mastery and in fairness to them, they are doing a really good job. People who read The Mail must know it has long history of supporting fascism, so I guess they must support its ideology, perhaps without knowing what they are?
Now, I have no way of knowing whether these loons who attacked me have been contributing to the comments pages in The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph but I wouldn’t bet against it. Why else would people be so rude, angry and confrontational if they weren’t living in fear of something?
I can’t help but wonder how much happier people would be if, as an experiment, these incendiary newspapers were taken out of circulation for six months.
Much happier, is my guess.
*I always write nigel farage without capitals as he doesn’t warrant them.