Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Leather Trousers

From when I was about 12 up until I left home completely, I would occasionally have to endure the company of one of my mother's bestest friends. This woman was a teacher and was about as likeable as a root canal without anaesthetic.

She was opinionated, arrogant, insecure, vicious, delusional, judgemental, patronising and aggressive.

And those were her positive qualities.

I grew up in an era where certain people were exempt from the normal "rules" that the rest of us had to follow re: social etiquette. This list included (but wasn't limited to): teachers; shop assistants; swimming pool lifeguards; police officers....and any old bag my parents were friends with. This meant that if they rared up and lost their tempers or were rude for no apparent reason then us lesser people had to take it into account that they were probably "having a bad day" and that we had more than likely "made them do it by being stupid/ careless/ rude etc".

This particular woman was a royal pain in the arse. Nasty and spiteful and I vividly recall this "discussion" when I was 19 (in my own home no less) after the fat bitch had had one glass of red wine. I had entered into the argument expecting to be spoken to as an adult and naively believed that we would be having a reasoned debate.

Her: "Your friend has no right to be on benefits. I pay my taxes!"

Me: "What about the royal family? You pay taxes for them, not all of them work."

Her: "I'm not talking about the royal family! You'd be a good lawyer because you argue logically, I argue from the heart! I pay my taxes!" (Emphasises the point by poking herself in one of her balloon-esque breasts).

Me: "You don't pay taxes for him he lives in Dublin."

Her: (Ignoring that completely). "You've got no right to be on benefits I pay my taxes!"

Me: "So what's he meant to do then?"

Her: "Get a job, get any job, and do that job!"

Me: "What if he doesn't like it?"

Her: (Smirking and nodding conspiratorially to my mother) "Aha! Then he goes to night school and studies for exams!" (Waggles her finger in the air for emphasis and smirks a bit more, looking triumphant).

Me: "What if he's not academically intelligent enough to study?"

Her: (Looking momentarily flummoxed but recovering quickly) "He's got no right to be on benefits I pay my taxes. You'd be a good lawyer because you argue logically I argue from the heart!"

Me: "Maybe he just wants a more fulfilling life than going to school and then getting a job and retiring at 65!"

Her: (After a pregnant pause) "HOW DARE YOU SAY I'M NOT HAVING A FULFILLING LIFE!!!"

Needless to say this was all my fault for winding the horrendous hound up and she had been nothing but reasonable and I had upset her with my attitude etc, etc.

Around the same age I voiced in front of my parents and her (again in my own house) that the former Headmaster of my Primary school had had "wandering hands." I had been told this by a young woman who had also gone to the school. It was almost certainly true as he'd touched me as well, but I'd always been too ashamed to tell anyone. Predictably it got this reaction from the fat cow.

Her: (Looking into the middle distance for a few seconds, then shaking her head) "No I don't' believe it."

Me: "Yeah, she said he had wandering hands."

Her: (Walking slowly towards the armchair I'm sitting in and saying VERY slowly...) "No. I. Don't. Believe. It"

Her crowning moment of cuntishness came at a dinner party at my house (that I thankfully wasn't present at) after she'd had one glass of red wine and a guest said brightly "Casualty on television is VERY realistic. I wonder if it's like that in real life."

The despicable dog went off on one for about half an hour in front of my parents, humiliating the other woman calling her stupid and lamenting that "someone supposedly so intelligent" could come out with something so imbecilic. Being Middle Class, no one at the table told the fat bitch to shut up and get out, but instead sat there in uncomfortable silence while she ranted herself to exhaustion. My father and one of the male guests apparently went and stood in the kitchen until she'd finished. The other bloke looked at my dad and asked "What the hell have you been feeding her?"

She also had two daughters, neither of which I could fucking stand. One had taken a dislike to me at about the age of 12 and this was of course my fault. I should work harder to make this lovely specimen of feminine purity like me more.

But I digress....

30+ years on and the memories of her still make me angry. I couldn't understand why. I mean, she'd never hit me or abused me. She was just a judgmental sack of shit that I hated for humiliating me in my own house and being a turd. Why oh why were my feelings towards her so strong after 3 decades? A couple of days ago it finally clicked.

In the 1980s there were certain templates for behaviour and appearance that I was obliged to follow. As I got into my teenage years I wasn't allowed to dye my hair because "you are in a world where the slightest black mark on your record could affect your chances of going to university"**

Hair also had to be "not too long" as I looked like a "lazy hippy layabout." However it also couldn't be too short as I looked "like a bricklayer."

Ripped jeans made me look like I "belong to a group I don't really belong to."

Faded t-shirts, or ones with slogans made me look "washed up and good for nothing."

And as for the "Fuck! Cunt! Wank! Shit!" t-shirt that I got from my favouritest band THE MACC LADS...well, best wear that alone in my bedroom.

Certain music was out. "Hevvymetal"*** was considered a noise designed to piss off hard working "grown ups" after hard day/ week at work and undoubtedly was what was making me lazy, aggressive and surly ****

Zombie films, Friday the 13th films and Nightmare on Elm Street films were "violence for violence sake" and were obviously affecting my school work.

2000AD comic was something I got banned from reading for 2 years due to how violent my mother considered it ##

There was a basic template for how a young man who wanted to "get on" in the world was supposed to look, act and behave. Little Lord Fauntleroy was the only way forward and the only way to become a managing director as opposed to a shelf stacker in Woolworth's.

I once got called to a meeting with my Secondary school Headmaster after my mother had written to the useless fat twat complaining about a lack of homework. Upon reading the letter she remarked.

"Well that means he's taking this seriously and wants to know what's going on". (PAUSE). "Well...he obviously goes for brushed hair and clean clothes...."

I turned away disgusted, at the age of 13 realising that she'd yet again missed the point and that I wasn't there to impress the beetroot faced bastard, but instead to lament not being educated properly. Predictably, my body language was picked up on and she then said:

"That's right Lance. Have a kick and a pout!"

But I again digress...

The fat, opinionated lady my mother had round the house occasionally was unlikeable in the extreme BUT the reason that these thoughts still linger is very specific.

In a world of brushed hair, clean clothes, specific methods of behaviour, etiquette, protocol and above all saying "Thank you for having me" when you left someone' else's house....this woman had about a 40 inch waist and wore tight black leather trousers.

To this day I don't know why she wore them but I have actually had counselling about seeing her in them (no I'm not joking) and the image of her sat on our sofa with a glass of Merlot, looking like a beached whale, is something I cannot un-see.

In that world of 30-ish years ago. A world of utter adherence to imagined rules of interaction. Rules that would put Downton Abbey's script writers in a haze, this creature broke every conceivable regulation by donning a garment that would have looked iffy on a 20 year old model, let alone Giant Haystacks' sister.

The hypocrisy was unreal and unfair and unfathomable. I had to be a perfectly behaved little man, while the elephant in the room (literally and metaphorically) was ignored to the point that no one ever had a quiet word in her ear to say "Get at grip! You look like something out of Wildlife on One!!"

Some people were exempt from the "rules" that I and others had to follow. They could be rude, ignorant, judgemental, aggressive, degrading and dress like shit...yet no one would say anything because....well, is there an answer?

The Leather Trousers were where my growing up kind of broke down. It was where I realised (mainly retrospectively) that there was no fairness or justice or "normal" to my world. I had to do what other people said, but they themselves could do whatever they wanted, including breaking their own rules.

Ripped jeans are awful. Leather trousers on a big fat woman....just dandy.

Hypocrisy will no longer reign. When I have kids they are free to offer me advice on how I dress. And if I ever buy tweed, I give them permission to pretend not to know me.


** Apparently teachers kept a black list of trouble makers that they passed on while cackling manically.

*** Heavy Metal. Some "grown ups" forgot this was an adjective followed by a noun and pronounced it as one word.

**** Whereas getting felt up by my Headmaster never happened.

## Ban was rescinded when it turned out her boss's son read it.

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