Quick, where’s that tabloid headline writer kit? I need to start whingeing about Broken Britain, or Boozing Britain, or the Trouble with Chavs, or something along those lines.
Picture this. It’s about 9-30 in the evening. Your friendly blog hero (that would be me…) is strolling purposefully towards the supermarket. I had decided to go, not to the nearest one, but to one a little bit further away so I could combine my potato-and-milk-purchasing activities with a little much-needed exercise. Also my local supermarket closes at 8, and I’d been too busy footling around doing fuck all to notice that time was running away with itself.
As I usually do when I’m out for a walk, I was listening to music on my MP3 player. Specifically the Pet Shop Boys, if you’re interested. Not quite my usual fare – they don’t really use guitars often enough for me – but I’m a fan of good songwriting whatever the genre, and PSB are absolute solid-gold masters, in my opinion.
Anyway, so where was I? Oh yes, that’s right, walking along the road, minding my own business, and listening to music so I couldn’t hear what was happening behind me. And, suddenly, there I was, being mildly beaten up.
Now, I don’t want to make this seem worse than it was, because it really wasn’t bad. Things got under way with a fairly solid kick up the arse.
Luckily I was wearing quite baggy trousers, which meant that the … gentleman … doing the kicking misjudged things and was slightly off-balance when it came to actually connecting with me, and that meant I didn’t receive quite the full force he’d intended. It was still enough to knock me off my feet, mainly because I’d been taken by surprise – I am what might be politely described as stocky (and impolitely as fat) which means that it’s usually quite difficult to knock me over.
The … gentleman … followed up with a second kick which was aimed at my knees, but this time I had a chance to react, and so he actually caught me on the side of my left ankle. Not an ideal place to be kicked, but, in my defence, I’d reacted pretty quickly, and with half a second longer he’d have missed altogether. It also meant I was in a reasonable position to stand up, which I did. Faced with an opponent who was on his feet and couldn’t be taken by surprise anymore, the … gentleman … decided to look for safety in numbers, and ran back to his mate, who was standing a short distance away.
Unfortunately I have a certain amount of experience of people trying to beat me up (that’s what comes of being known to be gay and living for a few years in an army barracks town), so I do have some idea of what to do, and that tends to show in my face, I think. The key thing I’ve learnt is to make sure not to look scared, but not to look aggressive either. What I did here was to look the guy in the eyes – not aggressively, but calmly, and that started to freak him out a little. It’s hard to stay aggressive if the person you’re trying to fight makes it obvious he’s not going to fight back, but also makes it obvious he’s not going to just crumple into a ball and let you kick seventeen shades of shit out of him either.
In this case, and even though there were two of them (it’s a good thing there weren’t more of them), they decided to call it quits. He called me an arsehole, and then they started to run back the way they’d come from. I watched them go until they were a good long way away (that’s another thing I’ve learned – don’t turn your back), then turned round and carried on my walk. I heard him call out one more time – “fucking speccy arsehole” – but that was basically that. I should point out that all the way through this, the people who were stopped at the traffic lights right alongside were looking in every possible direction except directly at what was happening. (I can’t really blame them, if it’d been me, I wouldn’t have wanted to get involved either.)
Unlike a few of the times before when people have tried to have a go, I don’t think I was singled out for any reason. I mean, I do have quite long hair at the moment, and I probably don’t wash it quite as often as I should, but I don’t think I’d have been prize exhibit in a game of Spot The Loony either. I think I was probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This all happened on one of the sunny days we had (in fact the same sunny day I complained about in my memo to god), and I think they’d probably been up drinking in a nearby park all day, and were just looking for a fight to round off their day’s entertainment.
I’ve been back to the same place since it happened – in fact the same place, at the same time, with the same music playing – “face your fears” and all that. But I’ve got to be honest, even though I wasn’t particularly shaken up at the time, it has had a fairly negative effect on me in the days since. In fact, I’ve hardly been out of my flat. It’s really a shame, as I had been doing quite well with convincing myself that there wasn’t any reason to feel scared or under threat when I was out in public over the last six months or so, and now I’ve got to start that process all over again.
The other effect it had on me was that, in addition to a large and fairly colourful bruise on my ankle, I also strained my right wrist fairly badly. It’s made it really quite painful to do a lot of things over the last week-and-a-bit, and one of the things it made difficult was typing. I’m really a one-handed typist (my left hand can cope with the shift key and the occasional “a”, “e” and “d”, and that’s really about it), so this post had to be a little postponed. [Did you see what I did there…? ;o) ]
Anyway, in case you were wondering, that’s my excuse for being out of action blog-wise for a little while. Hopefully normal service can be resumed now. Thanks to all of you who’ve been checking out my blog even though I haven’t been saying anything for a while, btw – it’s nice to feel wanted!