I knew Hubby really wanted to watch the boxing on TV but we were away for the weekend, the B&B we were staying at was run by two “little old ladies” although this had its benefits… extra biscuits with the tea and coffee facilities in our room, plenty of butter for the toast at breakfast… Unfortunately, Saturday night boxing on TV didn’t quite reach the menu. With this in mind I suggested that Hubby found somewhere to watch the match.
This is how I found myself in the middle of a noisy crowded pub on a Saturday night, I can’t even begin to describe how far out of my comfort zone I felt.
I have this ability, be it a blessing or a curse, to detach myself from my surroundings and retreated inside my head. I guess that’s how I can fall asleep so quickly, obviously a blessing in that case. Hubby’s world moves at a much faster pace than mine and if we’re in a hurry my mind can’t keep up with him but I’m confident enough in his ability to manoeuvre us both that I don’t even try to keep up with his world, I just reach out for the firm grip of his hand and away we go.
This is basically how I planned to make my way through on Saturday night, we’d find a table where Hubby could watch the match and a protective seat where someone like me, who has no interest what so ever in watching two grown men beat each other to a pulp in the name of entertainment, could log onto the Wi-Fi and spend a few hours at a much quieter, slower pace online.
There’s one of those four lettered words again… PLAN… I’m not usually one for a hard, fast plan, I usually go more for “progressive planning”, otherwise known as “make it up as you go along”, so really I should have expected the quiet table to be non-existent, I should have expected the sea-side, food-serving pub to have booked in a party or two on a bank holiday Saturday evening, an 80th birthday? an 18th? a hen night?… Or, as was the case here, all three.
Hubby found us a space next to a post where he could see a TV through the archway and I could stand in close to the… banister rail would be the best way to describe it I think… Three gentlemen of short, stocky stature… (although, to be fair, they might not have been that short, they were seated)… were seated in front of us, their chair backs up against our banister rail and in their musical Welsh accents they discussed the entertainment to come. All was not well with the world, but in my little part of it, it was well enough for my bodily existence to feel secure enough for my mind to wander elsewhere.
The hen party, whether by design or accident, left shortly before the boxing match started and somehow we secured two chairs at their vacated table. The new position wasn’t quite as safe feeling as our little banister in the archway, but after our day’s wanderings between Weymouth and Portland, my feet very much welcomed the chair. My chair, not a straight up and down backed dining chair, was more of a cupped shaped seat, with my own little bannister protecting my space so I stretched my feet out under the table and unlocked my phone.
Hmmn… No signal.
Ok, no problem, the main part of the pub was at basement level, under the tall buildings above, not below sea-level, but definitely below street-level so I accepted that my phone’s signal might not make it through. I’d use the pub’s WiFi.
No WiFi… Or at least, not enough strength in the WiFi signal to reach to this end of the building… No signal… No WiFi… No escape…
The crowd around me thickened and became louder as the fight started. Chants of “hit him” filled the air as waves of anticipation and disappointment took hold.
I pulled my chair tighter into the table and huddled nearer to Hubby. A bad move on my part as the crowd behind me moved forward for a better view.
I tapped into my phone and pulled up the one game I have stored on its limited memory. Mahjong, a sort of pairs game played with tiles and strategy. There was no strategy at all as my fingers poked at random tiles, searching for the calmness of the hidden world in my mind, the world I slip into all too often with no effort at all.
With the cheers of the ever thickening crowds ringing in my ears I found the way in, I made a conscious effort to dull the sounds of reality and my mind took a sudden lurch towards the hidden world inside my head…
… “Hit him!”…
… The words drifted in with me…
… “Fight… Fight”…
My mind jolted, as if hit from the side and with another lurch landed in another, all too familiar place.
… The crowd closed into an inescapable circle and at the centre the school bully laid into an altogether weaker personality…
… Cheers filtered through to my mind, the crowd started to disperse. My hand hurt from the white-knuckled grip on my phone, but I had no cuts or grazes, no torn school uniform or broken glasses.
I remembered to breathe, I put on my jacket and Hubby steered me through the much quieter pub and out into the night air.
We emerged onto the promenade where the wind wrapped my hair about my face and the waves crashed into huge white horses on the tiny pebbles, for once it was more peaceful in reality than in the hidden world which is my mind.
I wonder if the school bully has any idea of what she did to me, after the scrapes and bruises faded, the only scars left were inside my mind. The shame of not being able to protect myself, the fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone, of risking a situation I can’t control and of not having the strength to change it.
These feelings and thoughts are part of my everyday life, mostly, they’ve become small, insignificant thoughts and feelings over time.
I grew older and had children of my own, the mother in me now over-rules the small pathetic child. The need in me to protect my girls has shown me that I am often much more than I used to be but I do worry from time to time, as I slip towards old age and a “second childhood” that the scars are still there.