The Shoulder as Status Weapon
I stagger slighlty, the other guy reels a bit.
It is late evening, some years ago. When me and other half (not yet Tired Mam) had the 'luxury' of walking town-centre streets at night.
Another heads our way. Can of Stella in hand. That pimp-roll walk so well-described in Bonfire of the Vanities that will always always look so absurd when practicised by white men. In the Cotswolds.
I do not alter my direction.
There are many more. It is Friday night.
I look each in the eye. For no longer than a second-and-a-half. I know the rules. Any longer and the result is the same as staring-down a badly-trained bit-bull. Any less and you are a pussy.
Other Half says nothing. The street is thronged. After a little while, the Burberry-and Elizabeth Duke-clad denizens begin side-stepping me (us).
We get to where we are going, and enjoy our evening.
One year ago. Tired Mam brings this up. She is talking to some people we know.
TM: I mean, he's built like a stick-insect! You know that Verve video? He's just like that! He always does it! And do you know what? All these big hard lads - no-one - no-one - says a word to him! He walks around like a mini-Ashcroft, staring them out, not getting out of their way, banging into them, and no-one does anything!
I do not understand her tone. Half-admiring, half-satirical. I do always do it. Even in the city, the roughest parts of which I am drawn to.
I am no longer in my twenties. I have two children. I am a responsible and good father. I pay my taxes. I worry about the future. I wonder if my son will like me. I hope we will not always be short of money. I hope that what we can provide is more than enough. I think it is. By the time they both want their Playstation 5's, Xbox 4700's and ponies/cars, I am still not convinced I shall effortlessly provide them. But I know they have absolutely everything else loving parents can give them.
And if I want to walk in a fucking straight line, then I will.