We were sitting in a café in sunny Mojacar, minding our own business, when it all kicked off. The man at the next table started shouting abuse at the waitress who’d mixed up his order. She’d mixed up our order too, let's face it she was hopeless, but we just made a joke of it. The poor girl started crying and ran out.
Mister Angry was very red in the face, but as it was only 9.30 in the morning, too much beer couldn't be blamed. Oh, I don't know, looking at him. He was very big, shaved head, tattoos, you know the type, and I grabbed G very firmly.
‘Stay it of it,’ I hissed. He was glaring at the angry man, but nodded and sat back in his chair.
‘Not our business,’ he said.
The café owner came out with the waitress trailing behind. He didn't ask what the problem was, just said, very quietly, ‘Don't ever speak to my staff like that. Please leave. Now.’ He had a strange accent, but spoke very softly.
I was undecided whether to clap or ring for an ambulance. The café owner was about half the size of Mister Angry, very thin and wearing long shorts with skinny legs showing. He put his face right next to the angry giant and said ‘you still here? Are you deaf?’
The big man glared down at him, but stopped shouting, picked up a carrier bag and walked away. Every single person sitting outside the café clapped. The owner bowed to us all and went back into the kitchen.
When the waitress came to us to clear away I asked about the owner. Was he her dad?
‘He’s not my dad,’ she said, ‘but he sometimes acts like he thinks he is. I told him it was my fault. I got the orders mixed up, but he said that didn't matter, that man had been very rude. He hates rude people.’
‘I was so pleased it didn't turn nasty,’ I said and the girl laughed.
‘I almost wish that man hadn't walked away,’ she said. ‘He wouldn't stand a chance.’
I must have looked a bit doubtful as the waitress laughed again and walked away. When she came back she was carrying a framed photograph.
‘Look,’ she said.
The photo showed a much younger man, but still very obviously the café owner, wearing only a pair of khaki shorts. His arms and chest were covered in tattoos, every muscle was defined, he looked very, very fit and there were several gold medals hanging from around his neck.
‘That was just after he left the army,’ the waitress explained. ‘He was national champion in Belarus for almost ten years and won many medals. If you look into his eyes when he is angry you would know why that man decided to walk away.’
She walked back into the café, then came back, said, ‘Nobody ever turns up late for their shift here,’ and walked away again, still laughing. It's true what they say, the little ones are the scary ones.
Over to G now.
Having ‘not our business’ as a mantra to be muttered, sotto voce, when life’s annoyances get in the way has stood us in good stead over the years. In times of maximum stress, an additional word may turn up in the aforesaid mantra, a word which may or may not begin with the letter F, but in most cases NOB will suffice. Increasingly, however, this method of coping with the irritations of life is under strain.
I frequently have to be ‘reminded’ to stay away when other people are annoying us. It happens a lot. Marigold says we are getting less and less tolerant, but suffering fools gladly has never appealed, especially when their actions impinge on our own lives.
People clustered together in tight groups, blocking pavements, while they puff away at cigarettes outside shops or offices: we can cope with that. As vehement anti-smokers, better that than having them in the same room. Even when their addiction means they do less work than their colleagues. Yes, of course, I’m speaking from past experience here!
Drinkers who’ve over-indulged, barely able to stand and being objectionable – again, I can cope. NOB.
Screaming children in supermarkets whose mothers are either deaf or beaten down, worn out, defeated – NOB.
People who choose to stick a needle in their arm as a means of escape from a world in which they feel they don’t belong – NOB. In my former life, I’ve met a great many heroin addicts at close quarters and usually managed to distance myself from the antisocial nature of their behaviour.
The inconsiderate gits playing Trance Music at distortion levels, at four in the morning outside our hotel room a week or so ago; they are very much our business. They turned out to be German lads on a gap year, pissed out of their heads and winding down from yet another evening of heavy drinking after failing to find anyone desperate enough to be willing to sleep with them.
My rudimentary knowledge of German doesn’t extend much further than an enraged bellow, but the message appeared to be understood. A German friend once told me his countrymen respond very well to criticism so long as the message is conveyed at maximum volume. It appears he may have been right.
A while ago, in a public park in England, I saw two kids, the oldest perhaps ten years-old, throwing stones at duckling chicks on the lake. NOB? Oh, come on! In 2016 a clip round the ear wasn’t an option, but I took them home after a few harsh words. Two brothers. One cried, one didn’t. This was not a deprived area and the house I took them to had a new Mercedes in the drive. Their mother told me to ‘leave my effing kids alone and mind your own business.’ The taller boy smirked at me behind his mother’s back.
I know full well those kids will be throwing stones at defenceless chicks again, probably today. What can I do about it? Their parents don’t care, why should I?
But, I do.
A good few years back I saw a man punch a woman in the face. In the street. There were plenty of people about. They ignored it. I went over and stopped him doing it. When he hit her again, I punched him. The woman got up off the floor and screamed ‘Leave him alone. Mind your own business.’
I walked away and ‘not our business’ became a mantra. Even so, would I interfere if I saw a woman or a child, or anyone unable to defend themselves, being beaten? Of course I would. Poke my nose in even where it’s not wanted? It’s my nature.
The man who walks his dog along the promenade, night and morning, has just gone by. I’ve no idea what he feeds that dog, but it has one obvious effect. Great steaming piles of it. In fairness, not always exactly right where I cross the road onto the promenade. It just seems that way. I don’t blame the dog. I like the dog and it can’t help crapping. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Does the owner clear it up? Does he hell. Not my business? What do you reckon?