Last night I had a fun evening out with Mark Millar (Marvel comics scribbler extraordinaire), an assemblage of his slightly tipsy friends and my mate Jon, currently News Editor on Men’s Health magazine (who gets more muscly every time I see him – can’t think why). It was raucous and geeky and hugely entertaining, even if I had to leave early to catch a train which turned out to be filled with a huge number of Australians chugging from bottles of wine.
I was rather unsettled by something that happened before I left, though. I popped to the bathroom just as two girls walked into the toilet mid-conversation and, without seeing me, disappeared into cubicles. Then I heard one of them complain loudly:
“I fucking hate journalists. I really fucking hate them. They’re fucking scum. God, I hate them.”
And, being a journalist, I was actually quite offended.
You know that thing that happens when somebody says something, you can’t think of a reply and then an hour later what you should have said finally hits you? I believe it’s known as “The Spirit Of The Stairs” – in that your perfect response comes to you as you’re walking away. Something witty and urbane, profound and not a little soulful, something to make the person who’s just spoken feel as though you are the most wonderfully verbose person they’ll ever encounter.
The Spirit Of The Stairs caught up with me when I was on the train surrounded by drunken Aussies. What I should have done was march into the girl’s cubicle, look the journo-hating girl right in the eye and say,
“Hey! We’re not all scum, you know.”
Or, er, something like that.
Yeah, well. Maybe I’m not as wonderfully verbose as I think I am.
As it was, I simply ran away.