This modest suggestion rapidly developed into a rather startling brawl. She did not take kindly to my suggestion, and immediately accused me of being a nasty old woman, racist, who could not abide hearing anyone speaking in a language other than English, accused me of being a stupid ugly old woman, thought I wanted foreigners to be put into concentration camps, or to be deported, and who could see no reason why she should consider modifying her behaviour because of being in a business premises. Goodness gracious me! Obviously I have no right to exist, let alone mildly suggest that consideration for other people should modify her public behaviour.
I felt very upset because of this, as I am not a very disputatious person - although living with Dr P, who never hesitated to dish it out to others, while not necessarily accepting that sauce for the gander was sauce for the goose, should have prepared me for such a reaction.
But increasingly I feel that I should not have to put up with, or tolerate, the bad language or bad behaviour of other people. Perhaps I am just getting cranky, the effect of old age and the vicissitudes of life.
Yesterday while walking to the bus stop I came across three female high school students who were standing together and talking. Every second word was 'Fuck'. I am not exaggerating. They were talking happily and amicably together. So I stopped, and having learned a modicum of caution after the experience in the bank, and said, politely and pleasantly:
'Excuse me. Can you tell me why you all swear so much? You are all bright, attractive and intelligent girls, so why is it that you use such language so frequently?'
They all looked rather embarrassed. We talked a bit, but they just said that they did not feel it was swearing, it just came out casually.
I hope I gave them pause for thought. This is probably a vain hope. I hope my grandchildren do not grow up using such language. At least not every second word.
I wonder whether the young students - from 13 upwards - talk like this at home, at school or generally. Where do they learn it? Is it permitted in schools? At home? Does no one give them any standards of behaviour, private or public?
I live close to a high school - a selective school, and the students walk past my house every morning and afternoon, and the swearing is constant, incessant, and noisy.
There is a lot of hypocrisy about the use of swearwords. Some time ago a Federal minister swore at a press conference, in an off the cuff remark, and the heavens opened, and he was generally abused - and in my view, rightly so. But on TV shows the word is regularly used, and no one seems to bat an eyelid, let alone press the bleep button. So what gives?
I am over it. As they say.