COLUMN: April 20, 2011

I AM not an aggressive and go-gettingly assertive person by nature. I am invisible to bar staff. I never look as if I’m in the queue in Tesco.

Occasionally, it is a cause of chagrin to me, but mostly I console myself with the fact that I am never, ever, going to be mistaken for one of the alpha gibbons from The Apprentice, even if I spend so long gelling my hair that I forget to shave.

I do, however, become angry and start throwing my weight around, under a specific circumstance. Namely this: if I am convinced that I have been grievously offended but am, in fact, incorrect. Essentially, I can only achieve monumental levels of strop when I am entirely in the wrong.

Consequently, I am much more inclined to establish the full details of any possible transgression in case I fly into a terrible rage and reveal myself as a mistakenly wrathful chump.

So, when I arrived with my ticket to the comedian Simon Evans’s show at the Salford Lowry on Sunday evening, and discovered that somebody was sitting in my seat, I decided I would have to be careful.

First off, I checked my ticket again. B8. This was definitely row B. Row C was behind, and I was a row back from the front. Even I can work those maths out.

There were 16 seats in the row, split by an aisle. I checked the backs of the seats. No numbers, dammit. I walked to the other end of the row. There it was: Row B, 1-8. And there was definitely a couple sitting in seats 7 and 8. The rest of the row was empty, as was, at this point, virtually the whole of the auditorium. This meant war.

And I had the two most powerful weapons in my arsenal to hand. Firstly I had the sure knowledge that, for once, I was in the right. I had a ticket to prove it.

The second weapon was my peerless passive-aggressive skills. I sat right next to them, in B6. And folded my arms!

The woman in B7 turned, aware of my presence. I chuckled. “Of course”, I said,” if it all kicks off, you know you’re going to have to move.” She looked at me with incomprehension, then turned back to her partner, The Man In My Seat.

Then it dawned on me. The rest of the row was empty. What if seat B8 was at the other end of the row? That would be typical.

I moved to the other end of the row. The couple looked at me quizzically, but I ignored them. Thank goodness I had avoided an unpleasant scene.

And, even if I were sitting in his seat, and he in mine, did it matter? If anything, the seat I was in now was a better seat. I had got extra change from the cashier of life and I wasn’t giving it back.

I became aware of a presence next to me and looked up. There was a man in glasses looming over me. “Yes?” I asked. “We’ve booked seats 1-6,” he said. “You’re in our seat.”

“Ah,” I said. “I’ll just, er.” I wandered down the row. I stood before the couple. “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to shift. These are all filling up now.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” said the man. “This is my seat.”

I think I heard a ping inside my head. The rage boiled up inside me and I was going to let it out, like the Incredible Hulk fighting a proper baddie instead of a policeman who’s just doing his job. I was drunk with the possibility of a row in which I was in the right.

“I don’t think so, matey,” I snapped, and I whipped out my ticket. “There you go, B8. Now if you want me to get the ush . . . ”

“This is BB8.”


He pointed at the floor. Row BB.

“Row B’s back there.” He pointed towards the back of the auditorium.

“Right,” I said. “Cheers!” I trudged up the aisle and sank into my proper seat, secure in the knowledge that I am a massive idiot.

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