I eventually got round to having a bowl of porridge today, around 3pm. It was the first food I had eaten since Sunday. I’ve not had a decent cup of tea or coffee in that time either, I ran out of soya milk.

I discovered that my ‘nice little stop gap shop’, as I thought it was, is not far away from where I am staying at the moment. They sell soya milk in there. I got there 5 or 10 minutes before they close.

The first thing that happened was the older woman who was there looked disparagingly at my clothes as soon as I walked in, so I gave her a big grin and said hello as if she was a dear friend I hadn’t expected to see. I’d never seen her before. I’ve never been in that late.  She said something rather loudly that sounded like ‘celebrity’.

Anyway, there was a little man in a black leather jacket who started coming on heavy around me. That put my back up. I told him I was looking for soya milk, which they normally have, and he kept saying ‘no’, as if I was stupid even to ask for it. He didn’t even seem to know where to look.

So there he was, giving me the verbal, so I gave it back. Next thing I knew he was grabbing hold of me, and I told him not to and said he was breaking the law. I said I’d call the police. Yeah, right, like they care! If I thought they cared I wouldn’t need to fight a losing battle so hard for myself.

Anyway, he grabbed me again and started dragging me and shouting, so as much as I was desperate for what I had bought, and just as desperate for what I hadn’t been able to, I said, ‘right, OK, I won’t have ANY of it’, and dropped it on the floor. He got worse, I think he hit me, so I hit him back. Nothing heavy, just beating with the side of my fist, I’m not strong enough to do harm and didn’t intend to anyway.  I was just trying to make a point I hoped he would respect and stop what he was doing.

Next thing I know, he’s let himself drop to the floor, and then the old woman started hitting me, and he got up and joined in, and I think there was someone else, another man, joining in as well, and then I was really frightened, because they didn’t seem as if they were going to stop. The young woman who serves there stood outside the door looking alarmed, and I looked at her and saw she wanted it to stop, and said to them, ‘oh no, please let me go’. I didn’t know how far they would go. I wish I wasn’t writing this, I need some support for my tears, and I have none, either here where I am or anywhere, with anyone reading. Real support manifests in action that makes an appropriate difference.

Anyway, he grabbed hold of me again and threw me out of the door, and I was frightened I might end up hurt on the floor. Then I looked back and they were all laughing, and he was making sexual gestures with his fist and saying go fuck yourself. I came to this country with an open heart. Me. I’ve stayed here, in both hope and fear. Is this too melodramatic? Probably. I run with my tears, I believe my tears and my pain, instead of turning it to humour. I imagine people saying, ‘no, it’s OK, it’s not melodramatic, pain and tears are OK’, and wish I was with them to receive the imagined support instead of typing on my keyboard.

They were just there, laughing, when I said it was criminal and I would call the police. I’ve no idea why they were laughing. And he was coming on with the violent sexual gestures and talk. There was a locked door between us. I wanted to fall on them and say, ‘oh no, please don’t do that’. Almost a feeling of ‘please, what’s the matter? Why are you acting like that towards me?’ Everything I said to try and recover myself and some sort of control and communicate to them how bad what they had just done was, they stood there laughing, and it looked so pleasant in itself, it has left me feeling that I want to go back and apologise and ask THEM to forgive ME. Every time your vocal tone breaks through to freedom, they ride hard on the top of it with speech of their own. And I think they seem like such wonderful people, it makes it feel like a good thing and not a bad one, and something I should just accept as the way they do things at this point in their development and maybe always will. And that it isn’t bad, it just isn’t liberal. What’s so great about liberal? Not every country operates liberally, and some of them that don’t seem to be better ruled than we are.

People say Bulgarians are so helpful. That’s not what I saw tonight, and on many similar occasions people just turn away. They refuse to acknowledge anything bad in their own actions. Ever. I’m not England’s rich, I’m England’s poor, the poorest of. I came here hopeful, not avaricious. This is so cruel. It is, it REALLY is, so hateful – isn’t it?

What really got to me was that the woman started hitting me for hitting her husband, so I assumed, when he was being aggressive towards me both physically and verbally. Isn’t a woman allowed to have had enough of that and to stand up for herself in kind? Why would one woman turn on another woman who is hitting a man that has hit her? Especially here, where figures for abuse of women have been presented to me as being so high – 1 in 4, the last I read. I can’t think that she joined in out of fear, her smile and laughter straight afterwards seemed so natural and with such relish.

I just wanted a cup of tea and a slice of toast. That’s all I wanted. I’ve been avoiding going out all day because I thought I’d have to deal with taxi drivers. I didn’t know it was so close. I met the first girl I dealt with from Mirela when I was looking in Sofia for accommodation, she gave me directions. But at the end she gave me a look of open distaste. Maybe that’s why I’m not getting replies to my emails from Mirela.

I was raging through the street all the way home. A girl who had ignored me for 2 minutes as if she didn’t understand turned round and said to me, ‘don’t talk about my country like that’. Why not? I’m its victim got here under false pretences, it looks like.

In the covered arcade, just after I had passed him, a man in a uniform said excuse me. I said no. I thought he was just security and had no right to make me stop. I asked if he was police, he said yes, I didn’t believe him, said arrest me then, but you’re just security and you can’t arrest me because I’m not doing anything to your property. He followed me at a distance and silently in a way I felt intimidated by, then he disappeared for a while, but he reappeared as I got closer to home and managed to get conviction into my voice as I called them scum. As soon as strength, conviction and an end to my lack of self-control came into sight, there he was, still following at a distance. Do they hate me because they think I am rich and privileged? I’m not, though. How can people be so cruel as to be contemptuous towards people who have come to their country in hope and in peace? Not because they think they are owed anything.

The shop is just off Maria Luiza Boulevard, on a street on the right coming away from Vitosha Boulevard. The street is opposite a shopping centre with a clock tower, 2 streets before Tsar Simeon. The shop is on the right, past Costa Coffee on the left, past the mineral water outlets on the right, just across the road. It’s a shop with a green sign, on a corner, the name looks like Boehpe, or something similar. I used to like shopping there. I thought it was a nice little shop and a nice change from Billa. I thought as long as it was nearby I’d never have to go to Billa again.

Duh!

Is this acceptable discipline from a man to a woman in Bulgaria? Is this the right way to treat a woman who obviously is a bit above her station, and has no other man to take her in hand? Is this the right way to treat hypocrisy and refusal to trust and give the love and respect you feel, even in spite of yourself? Is it? I don’t know, but to me it feels right. Will someone with the power to make a difference please stand up and tell me it is wrong, if it is? Because if you allow it without positive action, you might as well say it is right. That’s the message people know I’m getting from you, in everything but words.  I’m saying this to my country’s government.

My landlord came to the house with a police car once, to demand his rent.  I’m not sure, I think I heard something just like it outside where I’m staying.  It blares a bit like a fog horn.  That was in a little village street, the same noise.  From a landlord who already seemed to be telling me he didn’t want me there anyway.

I hope this time it wasn’t connected with me.

When I started writing this and saying today, it was still Tuesday.  Midnight passed here just before I posted.

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