It is 1am. I've just walked home alone from the train station nearest to my house.
On my way home, three men approached me.
- The first walked parallel to me from the station to the pedestrian crossing. He asked me if I would like any company. I ignored him, and he acted as if I'd backhanded his mother.
- The second pulled up beside me in a silver Aston Martin with blacked out windows, rolled down his window and asked if I would like a lift. I politely declined. His car hovered at the pavement for a moment, and then he drove away.
- The third shouted to me from the opposite side of the road, 'Hello, darling! How are you?' Again, I offered no response. I walked the long way home to avoid crossing the road towards him.
Tonight, three things happened to me that should never have happened. Would you like me to point out what they were, or can you draw your own conclusions?
Look, I'm going to point out what they were. I'm suitably annoyed, and I have the day off tomorrow. I have nothing to lose.
The first bad thing that happened to me was the first man approaching me. Unless a woman is upset, in danger, or instigates a conversation, there is absolutely no justifiable reason for speaking to her when she is alone, and resolutely walking home, in the early hours of the morning. Where do you think I'm walking home from that would incite such a desperate need for someone to talk to? My husband's grave? A late night meeting with my parole officer? No?
I'd imagine you took one look at me and realised I'd been out with my friends. And you don't think that maybe if I needed some company I'd have enlisted the help of one of the perfectly capable friends that I already have? That if I was so desperate to be walked home, I wouldn't have, hm, I don't know, asked someone I already know to do the honours? That would be sensible, now you come to think of it. Thought so. And newsflash! I've never made any friends by striking up conversations with random people at 1 o'clock in the morning on a notoriously dangerous East London street. Remember your thinking cap? Where did you leave it?
The second bad thing was the winner of the Hackney Heroin Dealing Award for Exceptional Earning 2010 rocking up beside me and asking me if I'd like to get in his smackmobile and go for a spin. His exact words, I believe, being, 'Alright, beautiful. S'raining, how 'bout I give you a ride home in the Aston?'
How 'bout you give who a ride where in the what now? Me, a ride home? Amazing. So, you're proposing that I get in your £100,000 car, which, by the way, you're driving in circles around a housing estate whilst wearing an Ellesse tracksuit, and that I then give you and your sat-nav my home address and postcode, so that presumably you can let yourself into my flat and dump my body in the bedroom when you're finished with it, making the whole thing look like an inside job?
Listen, pal. My mum raised me with two rules: never to swear and never to get in a car with strangers. In light of the second rule, I think she'd forgive me for breaking the first and saying that when it comes to your offer of the James Bond experience all the way home, I'd rather sh*t in my hands and clap.
The third thing that shouldn't have happened to me this evening is the third man. He was the least strange, but had it just been the two experiences, I'd be sleeping like a baby right now, albeit having double locked the door. Instead, man number three raised his ugly head, shouting at me from fifteen metres away. 'ALRIGHT, DARLING?' he'd repeatedly bellow, 'HOW ARE YOU?' He was standing in between me and my house. I didn't want to cross the road, lest he assumed it was some kind of come on, a sort of 'maybe I'm not speaking to you, but I'm moving my body closer ;) ;) ;) '(which sounds like a lyric from Christina Aguilera's Stripped album. Love that album. Damn.) Anyway, I wasn't going to risk it.
When I eventually got home, I checked every single room. I mean, there's no way anyone could ever get in here (definitely just looked over my shoulder as I typed that) but I was so wound up by that point that it seemed totally justifiable to kick down the bathroom door whilst brandishing a rolling pin in self defence. (Precious housemate, I am sorry about that dent in the wall. Adrenaline. I'll get some Polyfiller tomorrow.)
Maybe all those men I met tonight had honourable intentions. Maybe the first guy was a vicar, doing God's work, and perhaps I appear in a constant state of terrible distress, when actually I'm just thinking about how much I love noodles. Maybe the second was a disillusioned trust fund baby with a penchant for retro tracksuits, who buys expensive cars to feel close to his father, and who lost a younger sister due to wet-weather induced pneumonia. Maybe the third was an autistic and slightly deaf widower, who feels lonely all the time and wanders the streets trying to find someone to talk to.
See, all of those possibilities would be enough to make me feel like a terrible person... if the following wasn't an indisputable, concrete fact.
Less than 150 years ago, a succession of women were sexually assaulted, stabbed, and gutted on streets a moments walk from mine by a killer who was never caught. Alright, so there's some time and a fork in career path between myself and the women whose uteruses Jack the Ripper removed, but the issue is this: men have raped and murdered women at night time in this area for time untold.
I'm of the opinion that, in 2012, I should be able to walk home from a night out without thinking about the prostitutes who were brutalised around the corner in days gone by. Please don't introduce yourself to me at 1am and put them at the forefront of my mind.