i am such a decent contributer to society

“We live in adjacent apartments and our bedrooms are on opposite sides of a very thin wall and one night I heard you crying and talked to you through the wall” AU

The man was crying again. Not softly like the first few times, but full-out sobbing. The thin walls of Castiel’s apartment did little to the block the sound, and as he lay in bed, just listening, his chest ached. 

There had to be something he could do. But what? The man was new to the building, and Castiel didn’t even know his name yet, let alone what he looked like. He’d only caught glimpses in passing. 

The only personal thing they’d shared was this, three nights in a row - the man crying in his bedroom on the opposite side of Castiel’s wall. He sounded so alone, so broken.  

Castiel sat up and gathered his courage. 


The man didn’t hear him, so Castiel tried again, louder. 

“Hello? Neighbor?”

The cries cut off with a hitch of breath, then a colorful round of swearing. 

“Shit. Oh fuck. I’m sorry.” His voice was muffled, but Castiel could still understand him. “I didn’t mean to keep you up. I didn’t realize I was being so loud and that these walls were so shitty.” Castiel’s neighbor knocked on them to prove a point, and Castiel smiled. 

“It’s quite alright. And yes, they are rather thin. Seems stupid to be charged such high rent when you could probably punch right through them.”

There was a snort. “You’re telling me. I don’t know about your place, but mine sucks. There’s friggin’ bugs, man, and stains that I don’t even wanna think about. Also my bathroom is missing some drywall, and you can see the pipes.”

“Have you spoken to the landlord? He should be able to fix that.”

“I…I haven’t yet.”

Castiel shifted to frown at the wall. His blankets rustled loudly in the silence of night. “Why not? It’s his responsibility.”

“He’s done enough for me. Don’t wanna bother him.”

“But it’s his job,” Castiel said, incredulous. “I can talk to him for you, if you want.”

“No! Geez. You don’t even know me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just forget it. Sorry if I kept you awake.”

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I was sexually harrassed by an approx. only ten to twelve year old boy tonight?

I’m still so shocked and most of all, disturbed? How does a CHILD have the impertinence to dare and touch a grown woman against her will, how can a boy that isn’t even in his teens know the intimidating strategies of a grown man, such as blocking my way, grabbing my wrist, insulting me and calling me a slut with a confident, cocky smile on his childlike face? Who taught him this behaviour? 

We always blame the media for triggering ( mostly ) men’s tendency to sexual violence, and of course it contributes to the big clot of gender role based problems in our sexist society, but if parents, ESPECIALLY fathers, do not teach their sons to treat women with respect, if they don’t lecture them about feminism and what a healthy sexuality looks like, no anti-violence campaign is gonna help them later in life, nothing’s gonna do. Fucking teach your sons how to be a decent human being, don’t be a bad role model. God knows what this child is exposed to at home. Don’t raise fucking predators. I am so appalled.

I’m just an ordinary middle-aged Londoner.
I work in an office. I go to football. I like eating out. I enjoy the arts. I am a proud family man. I give up time for charity work. I try to be a decent contributing member of society. I pay my taxes honestly. But there appears to be something that sets me and my kind apart.

At park gates in East London a friend of mine gets told to f**k off for photographing a flag. At a pub in Bath my wife gets called scum when she mentions her background. In a student hall in Manchester a friend’s son is asked to leave as the specially prepared food he chose to eat is not permitted because it carries a label written in a language used by a country that is “banned” by the student union.

In Belfast a historic blue plaque is removed to deny part of my history. In theatres in Edinburgh and London I am told to denounce my opinions or lose the right to perform. A sportsman in Ireland tweets if he sees my kind he’ll punch us in the face and recommends others follow suit.

Protesters across the country show no shame in shouting that my historical persecutors were right and social media is rife with vitriol towards me (even from so-called friends). And in Bradford I’m told that I am not even permitted to enter the city.

What is this? Racism. Where is this? Britain and Ireland. When is this? Now. Who am I? I am a Jew.

Never again, we say, never again.

Stephen Spencer Ryde
London N3