Lost: My marbles, reward for their safe return.

Yes, have you seen my marbles because I’d really like them back.

Seriously. D’you know how mad I’ve become? Last week I leant my bike against a wall and upset some woman who thought I’d leant it against her planters. As I had taken express care to mind the planters when leaning it there I felt really put upon when she leap out from behind a wall, in her slippers, and started having a go at me. Obviously, she’d had to wait 10 minutes or so while I bought eggs and plants and chatted to her neighbours.

Then as I was leaving, out she popped. She’d clearly been waiting there since my arrival, letting her anger build, getting more and more irate while she waited to ‘have a word’. Suffice to say it was so clear she was a) not in the right frame of mind to be polite and b) very possibly a bit of a troll. Yes the smart thing was NOT TO ENGAGE. But what did I do? I had to try and be conciliatory. So she had a go at me and then I went and answered back and that just made it worse – but I had the presence to walk away then, I suppose, so a partial success there.

IamGoingNutsWhen I got home, instead of forgetting about it, I found I couldn’t let it go. So I made her some please keep off the planters signs, really nice, polite ones. I encapsulated them, put them on posts so she could stick one in each planter, stuffed them in an envelope and posted them through her door with the envelope labelled: ‘life is too short for bad karma. These might help to reduce the number of cyclists who annoy you.’

I wasted two hours doing that. All because I had to let the crap go, for my own sanity preservation, and I couldn’t do it any other way. And worse, her nastiness left my brain so coddled that a few minutes afterwards, when I popped into a shop, I left my wallet behind. After wasting two hours on the miserable Mrs Mangle-alike (80s Neighbours joke there) I wasted another two looking high and low for my effing wallet until I worked out where it was, by which time it was school pick up time and I had to rush, via the shop. When I went back and asked, they had it! Wahoo! But it took ages for the sales girl to get it from upstairs.

20150402_120319So when it was returned to me £5 lighter, there wasn’t time to say anything. Anyway, £5 is not enough to complain about, not enough to conclusively prove – certainly not until I’d checked all my pockets, handbag etc first which I didn’t have time to do on the spot because I was going to be late for school pick up and get a bollocking from the school. Later I did check. It’s not there. Someone in the shop nicked it; either the person who handed it in, or one of the staff.

In my life as it normally stands, that’s an exceptionally crap day. By 2016 standards it’s quite a good one.

However, it doesn’t stop there, oh no. A new and worrying trait has cropped up. I seem to be turning into a nimby-magnet. Yes it seems that I’m a red rag to the kind of person who feels it’s in the civic interest to tell people off.

Let me explain …

TwoWayForBikesThe latest incident in a long line was this afternoon.

Yes, once again the cause of contention was the sign at the bottom of the lane in which McMini’s school is situated or at least, the apparent invisibility of this sign to motorists. Bridewell Lane is two way for bikes and one way for cars but the sign that states this is easy to see if you coming from one direction but regulars using it from the other tell me they hadn’t noticed it until I posted a picture of it on Facebook. So I won’t be as rude as I was going to be about my antagonist this time but …

Today, as we cycled down the road on our way home, a dark blue Skoda estate stopped and waited for us. I thanked him and as we went by and I noticed he had his window open his head leaning, ready to have a word.

Clearly my troll-dar was down because I suspected nothing at this point or I’d have been sensible and ridden straight past but I thought he was going to say something nice about my son, people often do, so I slowed up.

No. He turned out to be another observationally challenged spoon having a go about my riding the ‘wrong’ way down a ‘one way’ street.

So here we go again. At what seems like an appropriate pause in the conversation I attempt an interjection.

‘Did you look at the sign at the bottom?’ I am amazed by the calm in my voice. Booyacka! Go to the top of the anger management class and take an A star MT.

That’s when I realise he isn’t actually listening. He has not paused for more than that brief moment to draw breath. He has no interest in hearing what I have to say. I suspect this is because I might be able to justify my actions, leaving him with egg on his face. Instead, he is merely spewing words over me, a spiel he’s mentally prepared while waiting for me to arrive alongside his car, a lecture I am supposed to stand and listen to, without replying. A lecture at the end of which he can drive away feeling smug and self satisfied, knowing that he’s done his civic duty in protecting the populous from ghastly women on bikes with no respect for the law! Heaven forfend that there might be a reasonable explanation for my actions. Nothing I say can possibly have any value … and of course, if it was be reasonable and he might have to adjust his view or, heaven forfend, apologise for maligning me. So he’s certainly not expecting me to answer back. Speaking is not a luxury he has envisaged for me in this scenario.

He carries on, ‘This is a one way street.’

‘No it’s not,’ I say. The tone of my voice has risen a little, less of an A star for anger management now and more of a C minus. Oh dear. I mustn’t shout at him in front of the boy.

Never mind, after the last myopic angry man had a go I have taken a special picture of the sign on my phone, I can show him that, and he will see reason. Except that it is approximately one million keystrokes and 100 years of waiting to even activate the screen, let alone find the picture and show it to him. There will be no time to explain myself before his tirade is over and he closes the window and drives away.


‘I hardly think it’s very clever to ride down a one way street the wrong way with a child,’ he is saying.

Yeh I’m sure you hardly think full stop mister because you’d be right if it actually was a one way street.

I am thinking that it’s very stupid to have a go at random strangers unless you are certain of the facts. Although, judging by my own experience over the last three months I appear to be in a minority with this view. I am also thinking that he’s on shaky ground criticising others quite so vehemently if he hasn’t actually read the sign. However, despite the C minus state of my anger management mechanisms, I manage not to say any of those things. A small personal victory to take away from this then.

He has finished and he drives off without giving me time to reply, just as I suspected he would, presumably with a feeling of smug self satisfaction at having struck a small blow for right thinking people everywhere.

But he hasn’t closed his window.

And before I can stop myself I shout:

‘Try reading the sign you blind bat!’ at a volume that would be the envy of fishwives everywhere.

Oh me.

I tell my son that it is very wrong to behave the way I just did in public, whatever the provocation.

A little bit of me dies, inside, every time I do this. But still I cannot stop myself. I still want to smooth things over, to explain. Why does it never dawn on me that these people are not seeking an explanation. They are not expecting any interaction. They are expecting to castigate me mightily for their own personal edification and then go home thinking something along the lines of, ‘hurrumph! That told her!’

Do. Not. Feed. The. Trolls.

Do. Not. Engage.

And yet I do. All the time.

I seem to have become a nimby-magnet and it’s turning me into a shouty nutter. Maybe I need anger management.

So, there it is, missing, one set of marbles: mine. If found please let me know. £5 reward for their safe return.



Filed under General Wittering

20 responses to “Lost: My marbles, reward for their safe return.

  1. As you use that street regularly, how about printing off a few copies of the photo to stick under their windscreen wiper/into their open car windows…. etc. PS did you get his number plate? Alternatively, did McMini get his number plate…

    • Sadly not. I have thought of printing stuff out. I probably will. A couple of folks on Facebook suggested I write to the council and I think I probably will do that, too. And ask the local paper to post something.



  2. Hey MT:
    That was very nice of you to print out that notice for the women’s flower planters. I hope she appreciated it. A constructive way to redirect anger.
    Isn’t it peculiar how at certain times we can let things roll off us, and at others, we give in to frustration? I got a dose of understanding and empathy for people who get into fights with cops one day last year.

    One day I was waiting at a traffic light to turn into a plaza parking lot when I noticed a young, pleasant-faced female cop in the car next to mine. I smiled politely and waited for the green light. Then I realized that I couldn’t remember if I’d turned on my mobile, so I touched the screen, and it was on. Ignored it, continued waiting, then turned into the plaza.
    The formerly smiling cop followed me, blocked my exit from the car and accused me of having been texting! What, me text while driving? Absolutely not. “Yes. I have been following you for a long time now and you’ve been texting the whole time.”
    She was lying.
    I kept my voice level, offered her my phone so she could see that I had not used it since leaving home. She refused to look at it.
    This went on till her supervisor came. There’s much more to it than that, but I realized only later that if I’d been a Black man or in the US (it was soon after the Sandra Bland incident and others) I could have ended up losing my life. That was scary, but I can tell you that when a person feels wronged, and when someone refuses to listen or, even worse, lies, about them (as in my case) you can find yourself digging in your heels, at your own peril.
    Turns out a new law had just come in that day prohibiting texting and even touching the phone while driving, and I found out because of the encounter. But because she lied and accused me of something I hadn’t done, I just saw red!

    • That sounds really bad. I’m afraid I’d have gone off on one with you there! My sympathies. (edit) when I say with you, I mean alongside you going off on one at her, just to be sure I was clear! 😉

      I have to confess I’d be petrified if I was stopped by the police in the States and I’m white! But I’d expect them to be a bit more measured and sensible in Canada although do Canadian police have guns? Risky or not I’d still say kudos to you for keeping calm and still standing up to her. That’s the bit I have trouble with, staying calm.:-) thanks so much for sharing your story. It makes me feel a bit less of a freak to know that even someone with real smarts, like yourself, has seen the red mist too. Thanks for your support re the notices too … I still feel a bit mad over that one. She hasn’t used them. Maybe she just likes an excuse to get cross with someone every once in a while.



    • Graeme Rodaughan

      Hi Cynthia,

      Sounds like a “Stanford Prison Experiment” experience. Give someone authority and they can’t help but abuse it.

      • Hi Graeme: It was really amazing, the whole thing. and later, as I told my family and friends, I realized that something similar must happen between police and civilians every day. It made me quake in my boots to realize that I myself was so insistent on proving my innocence that I argued and argued — in a very polite voice, but nevertheless I did. Regarding the Stanford experiment, I wonder if it changed the psychological testing used to vet potential prison guards before hiring.

  3. I remember the first time I ranted publicly as a ‘grown up’ (I was about 23) when I shouted at some kids vandalising a bus stop. I wondered who was daft enough to be yelling at them, and then realised it was me. That night my car window was smashed and my car trashed (they didn’t find anything worth stealing!)
    These days I try not to engage, but I hate injustice so I’m with you. There’s a dad at the school gate who parks his Chelsea Tractor on double-yellow lines in a really dangerous spot, putting the kids at risk every day. It makes my blood boil. I thought I’d try polite and told him the police often come to check for exactly that, and he said something smug and arrogant. What can you do? Anyway, sorry for the ramble, just know you are not alone!

    • Wow! Just … Wow. Did you tell the police what had happened and describe the bus stop vandals to them. And yeh, the Chelsea tractor man just proves that idiocy is no respecter of background, class, colour, creed etc. I am going to write to the council about this one as I think the big bicycle on the road needs repainted and the two reminder signs half way up need turned round so they are actually facing the traffic. It might not totally fix the problem but I’m sure it would be a start.



      • Do you know I don’t think it even occurred to me to tell the police! I had only been in Manchester a few months and figured that was how things rolled in the big city.! Yes, definitely contact the Council – I’ve had quite a lot of success complaining about things (mostly stupid roadworks and inconsiderate builders!)
        And yes, idiocy knows no boundaries, but for some reason it hurts more in someone driving a better car than me! 😀

      • I think that the nicer the car I am driving the more courteously and politely I must drive, because many people think smart car = big plonker.

        Bless you re the vandals … what can I say? Go us bumpkins eh? 😉

  4. I like your sense of humor, M. Smiles, Robin

  5. Good thing it was you and not my partner. You don’t mess with cyclists in Spain. In fact we all cycle down one-way streets, and on the no cycling seafront promenade. A little rebellion is no bad thing. We certainly don’t use cycle paths. Cyclists have a right to the road. So do pedestrians and horses. Not just Toads. Parp Parp!

    • I discovered I have a specsavers voucher. So I think the way forward is simple. A couple of cards on me at all times, with a picture of the sign one side and the Specsavers voucher the other. Then I can just hand it in through the window.

      • But funny, it would be funny. The other alternative is to tell them I’m going to call the police because they are driving without due care and attention and then just shove a piece of paper through the window with the sign printed on A4 and suggest they read it at their leisure. I hope to get something in the local rag this week.

      • In all seriousness, good one. Cyclists deserve respect on the road. Thank you for taking up the battle for all of us 🙂

      • Tell me about it. I see it as long term education for drivers. It really is an eye opener to get on a bike if you only usually drive a car.

        There is a lot of enmity between drivers and riders though and I think it’s this unfortunate tendency that we humans have to generalise everything. It seems to me that if we meet a cyclist behaving like a wanker, many of us will assume that all cyclists are wankers from that moment on. Likewise, if someone in a BMW cuts us up on the motorway or we see somebody in a hot hatch driving like a dickhead we tend to assume that everyone who drives a BMW is a knob or that everyone who drives a hot hatch is a … ah yes… ok yes there may be many, many dickheads driving hot hatches but I still firmly believe that there are just as many hot hatch drivers who are decent, polite, kindly folks without a bone of aggression or chippy-ness in their bodies.

        My point is, wankers come in all shapes and sizes and it’s really high time we, as a species, learned that one moronic person doing something doesn’t make everyone who does that thing a moron.

  6. You made all us readers laugh though 🙂

    Agree, do not engage but it’s so difficult

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