‘What are you looking at?’ growled the tattooed ogre with the Rottweiler. I smiled in what I thought was an appeasing manner, embarrassed by the redness seeping upwards from my chin and moved to hurry on, quite unnecessarily adjusting the collar of my jacket. With my back to him, I heard some heartfelt obscenities strung onto the word ‘bitch’. I wasn’t really sure what I had done although it was clear that I had done something awful. I replayed the scene in my head and as I always tended to do, became more and more angry as I contemplated the unjust treatment I had been served. It was little comfort to think that he probably treated many a stranger in the same way or that the moment I walked away, he would not have given our exchange a second thought; the fact that I had been wronged and that perhaps directing abuse at me may even have alleviated the pressure of some pent-up aggression and put a lightness in his step, elevated my anger to a new platform. I felt sure that the redness in my face had now blanched to a steely white, my hackles were rising in unison with the stiffening of my wiry frame until it was almost rigid as the adrenaline powered around my body.
My walking pace had slowed considerably and I had ceased to notice the wind; in fact as I turned back to face the direction from which I had come, I felt no fear in the gust that accelerated my gait towards that obnoxious being still leaning against the lamp post. Perhaps it was the whiff of Miss Dior or the sound of stilettos; he turned to me with a curled lip and I said: ‘My real name is Bernard. What’s yours?’