“I don’t like people touching me”

“Between 8 am and 6 pm your service engineer will call.” I hate these messages but I am getting used to them. I surprised myself by not being up before 8 and having myself and the place sorted. The caveat was, “They will phone you 1/2 an hour before they arrive.”

He phoned 10 minutes before he arrived at 3 30 or thereabouts. The boiler was getting its annual service. I had put off booking it for 4 months.

The best thing to do is read while you wait so I returned to Michael Finkel’s, ‘The Stranger In The Woods’.

When I picked this book up I thought it was about the guy featured in the film Hampstead.

Finkel’s story is set in the woods of Maine and tells the tale of Christopher Knight. Knight in 1987, aged 20, drove his car as far it would take him into the woods and remained there until he was arrested in 2013.

You will know that many things can prompt me back to a past time. It is as if certain things or people have a magic power to send me back. It was the words on page 50 which did it today, “I don’t like people touching me.”

Finkel has managed to secure an interview with Knight in prison while he was awaiting sentence. They were speaking about what led to his solitary life. He was struggling with the cramped environment of prison life and was barely tolerating the prison guards searching him. It was from the conversation the quote came.

On Friday at Kensington Palace, I was about to enter the tea room when this woman asked to search my rucksack. She was probably tired of the task, I mean what would she do if she found something? She was well dressed and well groomed and not your typical security guard at least in appearance I was to find her manner to be brisk.

Immediately my inner defence wall was in place. It works quicker that any security fence I have seen. It is like guard dogs that I have to calm, “ It’s ok she is just doing what is becoming a part of daily living no need to tense.”

I too don’t like being touched unless I am in the mood.

I can’t remember a time growing up in Northern Ireland when there were not security guards on the entrances to the big stores and Army checkpoints for cars. Maybe my defences started there.

On a trip to Romania in 1990, I was sitting alongside my host as we transported goods in a lorry. It was while we travelled that his hand somehow found its way onto my knee. It looked like a giant spider as I tensed and thought, “ How do I tell him I don’t like his hand on my knee.”

After a time I said, “Nicolae in my culture people don’t put their hand on other people’s knee.” He seemed slightly offended shrugged his shoulders and removed it.

Now I am not saying that for some it wouldn’t be a genuine act of affection though for me I felt uncomfortable, “ I don’t like being touched.”

Occasionally some male as idiotic as me comes up from behind and slaps me on the head, I don’t like that either. I have been known to say, “You’re lucky you didn’t get an instinct whack.”

When I first came to England 24 years ago the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was still active in London. On one occasion I decided to go the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. It was an opportunity to see the Queen who I had heard so much about all my life. I was going through security when a Police Officer asked to see my wallet. I took it out and he took it off me and started going through it. I took it back and said, “It is my wallet I will open it for you.” He responded, “ With an accent like that you can stand over here.” So over here I had to stand until my credentials were checked.

Not so long ago, about 4 years, I was pulled to one side by Airport security as I was leaving Northern Ireland. The security officer unpacked all my stuff said thank you and then walked away. I called to him, “Excuse me you unpacked my stuff you can put it back.” He reluctantly started putting it back but then decided he didn’t have to. I, in vain, appealed to a supervisor who upheld his decision.


Truth be told if I really like the person I don’t mind being affectionate but I do like to be the initiator, some might say ‘the controller’.

g. ps video experiment continues below/ best with headphones/ let me know if it is needed

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