Here he comes, watch him closely now, what do we know about him, by the way he’s dressed, by his slightly inebriated gait, by the cut of his jib? Well he’s often dressed soberly, conservatively, his gait says ‘man with metal bollocks’ and his Jib says ‘one of the boys’, a man’s man, a man of a certain age. He tries to walk in time to the music playing on the ‘juke box’ only it’s not a juke box but an I pod on shuffle. He’s happy because, he not only scored two under par on the golf course today, but had his new Jag polished by his neighbour’s daughter, the one with the big tits.
As our friend makes his way to the bar to talk politics – a subject he knows little about – with the soldier at ease by the fruit machine he spots a filly with a book in a nook. The filly is about his age, dressed in what some would call – he never would – hippy chic. Her hair is greying at the temple; her glasses perched with a certain permanence on the bridge of her delicate nose. Her brow furrowed with concentration as she studies the text of a book not about war or spies or men with guts. No she’s reading a book about plumbing; this however does not mean that she is a lesbian. Also, if he looks really, really carefully he can make out two nipples – which is the correct number – slightly hardened beneath her chemise; plumbing must be the new Fifty Shades.
Our man, in an attempt to attract the filly, raises his voice in the hope that by doing so she will be rendered smitten by his inexhaustible knowledge and obvious matinee idol looks. He waxes lyrical about ‘the bloody Taliban’ and ‘the war in Iraq’ and how he had once nearly bungee jumped from a helicopter. When this doesn’t cause our ‘femme fatale’ to leap up and suck him off immediately he rather cunningly raises his game. He starts to tell the polite but bored young soldier about his crazy ex-wife and how much money he has to pay in alimony to support the ‘offspring’, not that he begrudges it mind you or, for that matter, is short of a bob or two. It just annoys him that she’s probably spending his money on pretty frocks and lipstick when it could be put to better use, like a new putter.
Meanwhile the woman in the nook with the book sips from her half pint of bitter without once taking her eyes off the page. She hasn’t actually read a word for the last ten minutes, not for the lack of trying; only there was a gobshite over by the fruit machine intent on boring the world’s population one person at a time. She wanted to get up and leave but had a full drink in front of her and would not be forced out of her local pub by a fat chauvinist.
Her life had been moulded, formed even by her struggle against the tyranny of men; she had fought for women’s rights and equality since the sixties. Her own grandmother was a suffragette; her mother had dropped the baton and married a pig, her father, a man who believed that females were the weaker sex. She had studied feminism, read Erica Jong, had a ‘zipless fuck’ slept with another woman and refused to be a stay at home housewife. She had it all, a career, children and an electrical screwdriver all without the help of a man, well not entirely obviously. After forty years of struggling for gender equality and respect for her sex here he was, her antithesis in all his glory.
The soldier, whose life made more precious by constant contact with death and violence, managed to get three pears, won a fiver then retreated. Left to his own devices the blazer warring gent decides to make his move. He thought for a moment about rehearsing his opening line but a lack of material persuaded him to blag it.
He had been lonely since his wife had left him for her driving instructor, he knew it had been a bad idea to let her have lessons in the first place; put it this way she hadn’t been a learner for long. Now he just staggered from bar to bar, ate ‘takeaways’ and had to pay someone to wash his clothes and tidy the house! Sometimes he wondered what he’d done to deserve such a fate, why him, he’d been a good supportive husband, gave her a house, kids and spending money. He even encouraged hobbies and bought her a sewing machine for their wedding anniversary! That bloody instructor had no right stealing his wife like that, if only she would listen, see sense, and admit she’d made a terrible mistake then he would take her back, damaged goods or not, a vow is a vow.
In the meantime here was an opportunity to replace the old gal with a slightly younger, less worn looking model. Oh wouldn’t his ex be sick to the stomach if she were to accidently walk into his flat and catch him boning this beautiful specimen?
As he passes the bar en route he says in a loud whisper to a group of twenty-something’s debating the acoustics of a badgers arse, ‘watch out lads, I’m going in, smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast’.
She, the filly with the penchant for plumbing groans inwardly, here we go again, she says in a slightly less audible whisper. She reminds herself that Feminism is about equality and so therefore she should treat the approaching idiot with respect. She also had to remind herself that this man was not representative of the entire male stock; he was after all, ‘a man of a certain age’. This was a man who, if you accused him of being sexist would bulk before reminding himself that all women were lesbians.
What happens next is too nasty to print, what we see is a man, a noble man, a man who once nearly bungee jumped from a helicopter get squished like a fly. A man so enraged by this woman’s intellect that he feels the need to ‘revenge wank’ as soon as he gets home. Once wanked he telephones his ex wife to give her what for, but she’s not prepared to listen to her ‘master’s voice’ anymore, she’s impervious to his rant. And so with no one else to turn to, he phones his eighty year old mother in a Bournemouthean nursing home to complain about how misunderstood he is, only she misunderstands him and orders twelve dozen eggs and a hairnet.
Nipples has another drink of ‘olde mans pride’ and before returning to her book makes a mental notch on her scratch post. How many men has she shot down, put straight in her life, too many to count but men like that are, she assumes with sadness, a dying breed. Like a reluctant gunslinger she avoids conflict, doesn’t court it, certainly won’t go out looking for it but, like a gunslinger, if challenged will shoot to kill. A trail of narrow minded, blinkered, condescending, self righteous corpses lay behind her, trailing all the way back to her own father.
For a moment she feels a little sorry for the blazer man and his wounded pride after all he never saw it coming, men like him never did. They assume that women fall into one of three categories, wife, mother or whore.
She accepts a wink from one of the young twenty something lads, it’s not lascivious or disrespectful it’s deferential. She allows a whimsical moment, a moment when she wonders what life would be like for her now, here in the world she helped mould? Sure there’s work still to be done, things are not perfect, but now equality and success for young women has a chance. She just hopes that these young women of today use their gift, their inheritance to help women elsewhere in the world to find equality and respect.