Rants and Whimsy

Portrait of the cockwomble as an old man

September 27, 2016

Sometimes we meet people in life and they make an impression on us. I am inspired to write a portrait of some of these people, once a safe buffering distance of time has passed. Because bitches be cray.



This story begins at a rather large party I was attending as a plus one. It wasn’t a house party though, it was corporate; a hired space, catering and free drinks. Planning had gone into this and theoretically we were there to celebrate some thing or other, but most people were probably there for the free tipple. It was packed with 5% people who were integral to the actual event and 95% who needed that free glass of Prosecco as much as they needed an extra layer of diamonds embedded into their solid gold toilet seats. But that’s the way it was.

I’d been OK during the day but had started feeling nauseous and it became more noticeable during the train ride into central London. Once inside I ducked into the bathroom and confirmed that yes, things weren’t quite ship shape with internal affairs. Upon my return I noticed that speakers were moving into position on the stage. I had missed my opportunity to nab a space where I could see the stage and whatever dull fellow was talking on it.

I positioned myself at the side of the room. There was a big pole and some furniture blocking my view, but at least I was still in the room and could listen to the speeches. There were chairs by the wall so I sat in one. My insides felt tender. The speech went on and on and the now drunken crowd began to natter loudly amongst themselves, growing restless. It was quite rude, really, but audiences are basically mobs and mobs are unruly.

An ancient gentleman came up to me and sarcastically demanded to know if I was very tired. I didn’t quite understand, so I half heartedly answered while looking confused. He couldn’t understand why a young person needed to sit down. I didn’t think it was any of his damned business, but he wasn’t leaving me alone. I finally realised that he was really fucking old and maybe he was just doing a shit job of asking me if he could take my seat because he needed to sit down. So I offered him my seat.

He began to decline until a light bulb exploded in his big bald head and he realised that this would be a way to get me standing, letting him win this weird power trip thing he was on. He accepted. I got up and moved away, he sat on the seat. For about 30 seconds. Max. After that he proceeded to stand in front of the seat for the duration of the activity on stage, never moving away but never sitting, thus ensuring I would not be able to sit on the seat again.

Remember, we’re behind a big hunk of masonry. Even if he stands there’s no way he can see the stage. He just stood there, reveling in his one-upmanship. He knew I could see him blocking access to the chair I had so graciously given him, when it would have been just as easy for me to explain my proclivity for sitting by going full exorcist in his face.

Seriously, old man, who hurt you? Having trouble adjusting to a life of retirement where you don’t get to enjoy great power over anyone, maybe? Perhaps after decades of being a powerful jerk you can’t quite get the jerk out of your system but have to come up with creative ways to be powerful?

The kicker was when you referred to me as a “young person”. True, I was probably one of the youngest in the room, but I was most definitely a fully fledged adult. Too old for any youth discount. You just needed to pull out all the stops to belittle me so you could feel mildly important.

Hell, I don’t think anyone else in the room actually noticed. It’s a pretty miniscule, petty sense of importance you achieved. Maybe you told others about it later, inflating and inventing some details so it sounded like you were chastising a rude teenager who didn’t know how to behave in polite society.

Except, we both know I wasn’t being rude. Other people were sitting. They were older and surrounded by friends though, so they weren’t going to take your shit. There was no reason I should be standing, no toast or royalty or fire alarm or Kanye West making demands. In fact you were one of the many people talking during the speeches. Miss Manners would probably agree that you were the rude one before we even take into account your very big schnoz being wedged into my very queasy business without my consent.

Next day I woke up very unwell. I hope he caught whatever I had. I hope it exploded through him and his old, weakened-from-standing-too-long-the-night-before body could not take the strain. I can be petty too.


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