Walking through town yesterday, there was an altercation outside a coffee shop. A girl sitting with friends was shouting at another one standing (both app. 18 years old). As I got nearer the standing female started threatening: "I'm gonna kick your fucking head in. Come on, come round the corner and I'll smash your fucking head right in."
I wondered why she felt it neccesary to go round the corner to kick her head in; I would have thought it would have been a lot easier to just do it there and then, as the girl whose head she wished to kick in was sitting down and a prone target!
As I passed by, I looked at the face of the seated girl who was shouting back, and I could see the terror in her eyes. Her mouth was shouting and her eyes were afraid. And I don't blame her. The threatening ... aherm.. 'lady', for want of a better word, was built like the proverbial brick shit-house and had it been me, I'd have been UNDER the table snivelling like a right woos.
This was a dramatic little scenario and when I walked back that way a little later, the aggressor had gone and there was just the girl still sitting with a couple of friends.
Are you disappointed? Did you hope that I was going to carry on with an account about a bitch fight? Sorry.
What was fascinating was watching the action play out. The posturing and reactions of the two girls. Attacking and retreating. Snarling threats, but failing to carry them out. A friend trying to pull back the aggressor and two young children looking bewildered and scared at their mum's behaviour.
And then the passers-by (myself included), watching with interest, not getting involved, but being slightly amused by this 'show' of aggression and threatened violence.
And within this little scenario was a large gamut of human emotion: fear, aggression, amusement, horror, enjoyment, shock, disgust. And it was all whipped up due to a perceived threat or insult by one or other, or both of those girls. A threat to their sense of self, which escalated into a need to inflict violence, to prove that that sense of self is so important that it might be worth kicking in someone's head over. And in lots of instances there isn't just a threat; the action gets carried out, and results in injury or death. Humans will protect their sense of individual self to the death. At which point, paradoxically, that sense of self that they are defending and protecting disappears anyway.
It's amazing the lengths that people will go to to protect something that is only a feeling and a thought. Amazing that someone else's perception of them is so important that they will risk annihilation, either of themselves or the other. All because the sense of self has been riduculed or insulted.
There's not many things more ridiculous than reacting to an insult about something that doesn't actually exist. A bit like an actor kicking off because someone insulted his pretend character. And I think that's why a lot of the onlookers were mildly amused. They could see that it was just a little drama playing out with nothing real behind it. A lot of noise and fury.
Just another pleasant afternoon in an English town shopping centre.