There was no better way to see London on Friday night than from the air. It looked like it was under seige, hundreds of multi-coloured explosions punctuating the landscape. Were the fireworks some sort of elaborate welcoming committee? Hurrah! You're finally come to visit! We're ever so glad! But then I remembered it was Guy Fawkes Day and London really didn't give a shit that I was in town.

I'd forgotten that one of the most exciting cities in the world had been lurking just down the road all this time. Upon arrival I went into true Deranged Tourist mode at the sight of so many icons. Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Big fucking BEN! And Trafalgar Square really is chockers with pigeons! And all those places on the Monopoly board really do exist! Park Lane, Mayfair, Pall Mall. Are there any other ignorant children out there who began every game with an argument as to whether you pronounced it 'Paul Maul' or 'Pal Mal'?

By Sunday arvo I was knackered from all the excitement. I was quietly yawning beneath the famous neon signs on Piccadilly Circus when I became aware of an old lady standing in front of me, glaring over her spectacles and rapping her walking stick on the pavement.

"Nobody covers their mouth when they yawn anymore!"


"Nobody!" she shrilled in plummy tones. "Whatever happened to good manners?"


She sighed dramatically, "What is wrong with your generation? WHO would have thought it was SO much to ask?"

I stared at her as I struggled to formulate an appropriately withering reply. Did Shauna snarl:

A:  Just you wait, you old bat. When you call Geriatric Rescue to say you've fallen and can't get up, I WILL LEAVE YOU THERE TO ROT!

Or mumble meekly:

B:  Sorry, ma'am. I mean to do it but my hand didn't get there quick enough!

Either option ends with the condescending cow shuffling off in disgust.

image from www.dietgirl.org

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

17 thoughts on “Uncovered

  1. Well of course you said B, because of the nice person you are. (Okay, I don’t know you, but you seem nice from your posts, and funny!) Anyway, I’ve travelled a great deal, and London is my favorite city. Hope you went to the Tower, it was so great!!

  2. What gives old people the right to be rude? I think chastising a total stranger in public is far more ill-mannered than yawning uncovered.

  3. totally did the paul maul – pal mal thing! i didn’t believe there even was a place called pal mal until i was in London. Why dont they spell it right?

    on the other…

    soooo many loonies in london and if you’re anything like me I must have a sign on my forehead that says all loonies/weirdos “pick me to talk to” because I’ll always innocently respond – and then they come back with something so stage left and strange – and then I’m like, oh fark what have I started and try and move away without them noticing.

    i discovered smiling and nodding works well

  4. i actually seem to remember being told it’s pronounced “Pell Mell”. makes no sense? true, but us brits always did it our own way. 😉

  5. monkey, i wish i went with your option! i agree with meredith, why does being old give you a ticket to being an obnoxious bitch? i guess i have just had my fill of old people this past year. every weekend at Geriatric Rescue i get these infuriatingly posh old bastards calling, “i have no hot water. WHAT are you going to DO about it? i’m EIGHTY YEARS OLD!”. does dementia erase basic manners?!

  6. gang-violence, crack, single-mothers, child abuse, unemployment, etc etc and the worst thing she can find to complain about is YOUR generation not having any manners???? I love it when people say “YOUR’ generation…..

  7. When my friend and I were in London, we had planned to try and video all the Monopoly board locations – sad I know. But after about 5 or 6 spots, our feet were sore and we just couldn’t be arsed, so we just grabbed a London map and filmed the place names on that instead. 😉


  8. Alas. Wouldn’t it be nice if life had a rewind button – so you could go back and say the perfect cutting remark you think of a few minutes after you’ve given a polite but wimpy one?

    Actually, I still probably wouldn’t have the nerve, and being me, it wouldn’t come out right anyway…

    The French actually have an expression for the clever response you SHOULD have made but only thought of on the way out – “esprit d’escalier” (lit. “staircase wit”). I love that.

  9. i suppose smiling and nodding doesn’t really work on the phone.

    certainly dont know how you do that job – I would eventually loose it. you must be a v v v nice person to keep going back.

    i figured she’d have to be a loon to be so rude but i suppose some old people think they have right to speak to everybody like they are 8

  10. “WHO would have thought it was SO much to ask?” -> I very much doubt that she REALLY asked you if you would cover your mouth.

    When people start muttering about how everything used to be better I usually get the strong urge to agree and say: “You’re perfectly right! In the old days there used to be a lot less whining old people.” It does help, trust me.

  11. I thought the traditional Austailian respose in these situations was to pull out the machette all of you keep attached to your belts and say “Now THAT’S a knife. G’day.”

    Well that’s how it goes down in my head, anyway . . .

  12. I choose option D or E
    D) Rip your shirt off and hump her leg whilst singing the Sex pistols God save the Queen.
    E) “In my day I had to walk 50 miles in the snow on my hands up an isolated mountain before yawning”

Comments are closed.