Compliment slip

comment slip

So there I was filling in time while I waited for a friend’s train at Euston station and moaning to the taxi driver next to me about the delay. It was all going swimmingly as we traded tales of trains met and missed. Then as I scanned the crowd for my friend, the taxi driver got it into his head that I was looking for a relative. “Is that her?” he asked helpfully, pointing out someone who bore more than a passing resemblance to Miss Trunchbull, the fearsome shot-putting headmistress from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. “She looks just like you.”

Instead of biting his head off, I found myself agreeing with him. “Oh yes, she does a bit,” I replied lamely before running away to text Clare in a flurry of fury. “Well, I wouldn’t want him driving me home,” she tapped back.

She was right, maybe he’d just got his beer goggles on the wrong way round. Perhaps that’s why I felt so little sympathy for the young attractive woman who reported a fellow councillor for commenting on her figure when she offered to hold the door open for him.

Apparently, as the man approached a closed door with a cup of coffee in each hand she asked if he’d like her to hold the door open for him. “With a figure like that you can hold the door open all day,” he is supposed to have replied. Depending on your mood and personality his words could have been interpreted as a compliment, harmless banter, sexist nonsense, or so dodgy as to be laughable in a retro Mad Men kind of way. But worthy of a legal reprimand?

I wasn’t there so I can’t judge whether he was being leery and she clearly felt he was, but I would make a guess that if the man in question was George Clooney instead of a 71-year-old grandfather and the woman in question was 60 not 31, it would have ended quite differently. An older woman would either have put him in his place on the spot – and probably made him laugh with it – or she would have accepted it for the compliment it was probably intended to be, however inappropriate. A younger cuter guy would probably have got away with nothing more than a long-suffering roll of the eyes. Unfair? Of course it is. But sometimes, however justified, there just isn’t time to feel offended, especially if you’re in politics. You’d be filling out chitties and crying in the loos all day every day. There’ll be plenty of time for tears later. And it reminded me of something I read about the late great Anna Wing, the actress who played Lou Beale in EastEnders and who died last week aged 98.

Just over a year ago she told her local online paper The Kentish Towner, “You don’t make many friends after a certain age: the greatest are those made between 20 and 30, then it’s romantic relationships, followed by broken hearts, and in the final lap you pine for years, but still like to be fancied – even at 90.”

I was still mulling over the rights and wrongs of all this when I took Doughnut for his evening constitutional. We were lolloping along minding our own business when a tall middle-aged man (I didn’t notice his figure) stopped us saying, “What an elegant dog! How old is he four? Four and a half?”

“He’s 12,” I replied. I looked at Doughnut, Doughnut looked at me and we both sashayed home with a little bit more bounce than usual. Bite me.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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