I had my first bad day, and horrible experience yesterday, and with it came the first wave of homesickness.

I had a gorgeous morning, strolling through the markets at Brick Lane, checking out the design markets at Truman Brewery, earmarking future purchases of clothes, screen prints and handbags I’d like to own once I get a job.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I thought I’d walk over to Columbia Rd Flower Markets and pick up some flowers, and maybe some pots to brighten up my house.

It was so crowded. There’s nothing in Perth to describe how crowded it was. I’ve never stood with this many people crushed against me, not even in a concert. There were pockets of people so dense, some of them had been standing still for ten minutes because there was no way or where to move.

At one point I became a bit panicky. Someone keep putting their hand on my lower back and pushing me forward and it was freaking me out a bit. I couldn’t seem to go forward, I couldn’t go back and I couldn’t get out of the crowd. Finally I saw someone moving through and I kind of dived behind her and moved through in her wake.

As I got out of the crowd and into a less dense area, I stopped to take a breather at a stall, to work out whether I’d keep going, or come back really early next week, before the crowd develops. And then there was this woman tapping me on my shoulder.

As I turn around I’m looking at the most irate woman, finger pointing in my face and she starts yelling at me. Apparently when I dived through the crowd I knocked her daughter over. I have no doubt I did – which is horrible. I’m completely mortified that I could have done such a thing. But this woman just launches into this attack about my manners and how rude I am and telling me “I live in this area, and if I ever see you knock someone, I’ll knock you back so hard…”. We’re talking loud and aggressive. Anger is just oozing out of her and my very first thought was, “oh my god, she’s going to hit me”.

You have to understand, this is a really well dressed women, probably mid thirties, nicely done up for a day out with her family. But her aggression was astounding. I was completely speechless. Her anger was so tangible, it was scary.

I think the thing that upset me the most (other than the fact that I accidentally knocked some poor kid over – as I said, it’s not something I’m proud of, I’m completely mortified by it…) is how this woman could think I would purposefully knock over a child and be okay with it, that I needed her to “teach me a lesson”. What sort of world is London, that she could honestly assume anyone would go out of their way to be rude and ill mannered enough to knock over a child, and not feel bad?

Somewhere in the middle of the incident a passing guy just jumped in and started having a go as well, and told me I was lying when I tried to explain that someone was pushing me from behind (which was so bizarre – I know someone was pushing me, so I’m not sure what he was getting out of joining in…), but the glee with which he joined the berating of me was horrible – adding his two cents worth and having a go at me alongside the woman. I’m pretty sure by this stage I was opening and closing my mouth like a fish and on the verge of crying. Nothing back home prepared me for this sort of confrontation.

The last time I was as scared by someone else’s anger was years ago, when Aidan and I were followed in our car, and trapped by a man in his car, who felt he’d been unfairly done by at a roundabout (!!??) and came to “give us what for”. He abused us, spat at as, hit Aidan, screamed in my face, threatened me, kicked the car, and was really scary and violent.

This woman and man yelling at me, surprisingly, comes a pretty close second to that experience.

I’m sure if you heard her side of the story (a tale I have no doubt she’ll dine out on for months to come), she will probably comment on the ill-manners and bad behaviour of the Rude Australian Woman. I think she has a right to be upset, it’s her child and she wants to protect her. But do you know, I have “excuse me’d”, “Sorry’d” and “thank-you’d” my way through London in the three weeks I've been here, and got nothing for my pains. I know I’m not a rude person, I go out of my way to ensure as little discomfort for anyone in my world as possible. I am meticulous about saying please, thanks and excuse me whenever possible. And then – the first stranger to approach me (rather than the other way round) did so only to abuse and berate me over my manners!

It’s the first time I looked around me and actually considered whether London is for me. People are rude and aggressive, particularly in the East End. I’ve seen fights, too much road rage to even list, strangers bitching and sniping at each other. But this is the first time it’s been directed at me – and it’s really scary.

Maybe I’m not tough enough for London. Maybe I don’t want to be the sort of person who gets angry with such vehemence, and maybe that’s what being in London is like. I hope my lose of faith is temporary.

I did apologise by the way. Though I doubt it meant anything to the woman.

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