When I was brought into the world, my mother and father had a lodger. She was outwardly beautiful and pleasant natured. She shared our house for all I remember of my early childhood. Everyone in our house loved her, and accepted her being there, but she had funny ways. For instance, she wouldn’t let me touch her at all, and would get very aggressive if I tried. She would think nothing of physically hurting you, but moments later would be expecting you to treat her nicely, as though nothing had just happened.
I don’t know how much this early experience affected me. This particular person died when I was about seven, maybe eight. Living with a knowingly manipulative person can be quite traumatic.
In the many years that have followed, I’ve met similar people – outwardly charming, attractive, beautiful – but actually aloof and aggressive beneath the surface – people who are friends to many but emotionally attached to no-one. Their behaviour is almost psychopathic, yet because of the outwardly soft, characterful, placid appearance – even playfulness – others are drawn into their presence, and like having them around. It seems to give these people a warm feeling of supremacy.
In recent times, I’ve become more aware of people like this; our neighbourhood seems to be awash with them. Sure, I’ve seen them relaxing, sitting in the sun, causing no bother to anyone and looking at peace with the world. But I know that they happily traipse over people’s property, pick fights, dump their detritus in gardens and tip over pot plants. I’ve heard them screaming and shouting in the middle of the night, tearing up the tranquil suburban nights and waking up young children. They’re not averse to frightening small animals and pissing wherever they like.
And yet, these people seem to think that life owes them something. They seem to live charmed and uncomplicated lives; doors are opened and gifts are offered, despite the very carnage they are causing. Like the person from my childhood, I’ve tried to reason and educate, even to discipline – but in many of these people, their arrogance means that they continue their anti-social behaviour regardless. They seem to have no ability, or desire, to learn or empathise.
There aren’t many things in life that I come close to really having a dislike for. Cigarettes I feel pretty passionate about, and drugs. I hate a disrespect for general politeness. But this broad group of people – the shameless, arrogant manipulator in the guise of a devoted, charming, talented and intelligent individual – really make me seethe.
Did I say people? Sorry, I meant cats.