Following on from last week's sucessful bike ride, I decided to get back out there before I remember I am lazy and don't enjoy exercise of this sort. My plan was to reach the other side of the Canning Town flyover - a round trip of about 10 miles.
My backside unfortunately rebelled as soon as it touched the seat and the wind was blowing so strongly into me that at times it felt like I could go no slower without coming to an actual stop. I made it as far as Plaistow which, ultimately, I was more than happy with (there and back roughly 7.5- 8 miles).
There was only one incident of note just shortly before the turning point. Through the green railings of Newham Angling (Members only) I was confronted by a teenager/young bloke taking a leak into the bushes on the other side. This wouldn't be noteworthy if he hadn't then wiggled his decidedly disgusting pizzler at me and asked with a leer, "Do you want to come over for a better look?".
I stopped, changed a withering-teacher-look into a you're-disgusting-look and managed a rather feeble, pathetic "pervert" before moving on. One of those moments that bug you for quite some time because you really wish you could have come up with something witty and scathing. As it was, he nearly took me out a couple of moments later on a mini motor. When will grown men realise they look totally ridiculous on these nuisance machines?
I'd become quite accustomed to men harrassing me in the street but that's the first time in a while. Either men are getting their act together or as I become older I'm less of a target. When I first moved to Barking I did wonder if it was a requirement that male inhabitants abuse women both physically and verbally in the street. Past incidents include:
1. An Asian man blocking my path near the train station to tell me I had a great pair of tits and could he touch them?
2. A man who, while speaking a language I didn't understand, performed some kind of Slavonic mating ritual which made him look like a clucking chicken into which he tried to drag me (on the way to and from the shops).
3. An old white boy sticking out his walking stick for me to trip over; "I can still get it up, love" wink, wink, leer.
4. Three young men sitting next to me on a bench in the shopping centre; one of them puts his hand on my legs and says, to the laughter of his mates, "nice tits".
5. While queuing for my car tax in the Post Office, a man came in, gripped my arm and tried to pull me backwards while telling me he liked the look of me. I actually had to be rescued by the man in front of me who shouted at the man in his own language.
These all happened just before I read an article in the Guardian (back in 2003 I guess) which said women needed new laws and a fightback. Rather than responding in an aggressive or confrontational way women should say very firmly and calmly "Don't harrass women". Simple, to the point and clearly stating a desired behaviour. Much like talking to children who don't realise what they've done wrong.