I am simultaneously impressed, and disgusted.

Impressed, because this is the first really creepy guy that I’ve encountered so far in Sheffield. Disgusted, because Sheffield was doing so well, damn it! And also because his excuses, although ingeneous, were frankly bizarre.

To set the scene – I was on my way home, walking up West Street (a big main road, full of bars and buses), when two teenage girls walked quickly past me, closely followed by a man who was in his forties at least. The I’ve-been-pickled-in-alcohol, leathery-faced kind.

He was being bloody weird, and so, donning my humourless feminist mantle, I turned round and shouted out to the girls to ask whether he was bothering them (“yes”) and whether they knew him (“no”).

He was still trying to follow them, so my next – loud – question was “do you want me to call the police?”

It’s amazing how quickly you can get a creepy man’s attention doing that. So he walked back to argue with me, and the girls quickly disappeared. And we had an exchange that involved the following statements from him:

  • He doesn’t want to be on the front page of The Star (South Yorks newspaper).
  • I shouldn’t “lump him in with… them” because he has a wife. And daughters.
  • He knew those girls really.
  • He’d had a drink.

Call me hard to please, but I personally wasn’t impressed by any of those things. But presumably he was impressed by me, because he really was very insistent that he didn’t want to be in the paper. Perhaps I looked like a journalist. Or an undercover police officer, moments away from radioing for backup. Or a superhero, with the mandatory cleavage-enhancing PVC outfit. It must have been quite disappointing for him when I turned and walked away, still wearing my hoodie and jeans.

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