Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Dad to the rescue... eventually
Cro has just posted about his young daughter decking a playground bully when she was a little girl, and it reminded me of a few events in my school days.
I was very tall and skinny when I was a kid, so I was an outwardly impressive target for the handful of hard-nut bullies who went to my (very rough) school. Two bullies in particular were very small in stature, but came from Gypsy and Irish tinker families respectively, so had about 15 brothers each to fall back on, who would be waiting outside the school gates for anyone who happened to get the better of their little brothers.
So it seemed to be better in the long run to take what was coming from them, then get up and dust yourself down if you were as cowardly as I was. I never did get the hang of defending myself until after I left school, and even then my methods of self-defence amounted to little more than looking as mad as possible whilst staring someone in the eyes as if to encourage them. I also put on about five stone in muscle when I started to work on building sites, which helped. People don't like madmen in my experience. Or at least I don't. You never know what they are going to do.
Over a period of about a week when I was about 12 or so, a group of much older boys began to waylay me on my way home from school, and one day they formulated a little plan which almost broke my leg.
As I approached them, they whispered to each other, then one of them stopped me as another went behind me and crouched down. The first one then shoved me so that I fell over his mate, but my foot did not budge on the grass, so I bent my knee back so badly that I had difficulty walking the couple of miles home.
I normally did not tell my parents about bullying episodes, because I was ashamed of them, and my father was a big bloke who took no nonsense from people he thought were bullies. My limp gave me away though, and I had to tell them all about it.
So the next day, my father arranged to take time off work to intercept me and the bullies before they could do any more harm, and he got me to describe where they would be so he could park up and wait.
That afternoon, I walked toward the bullies who waited in their usual spot for me, but I could not see my father's car parked anywhere in sight. It was unthinkable that he would not keep his promise, so I wondered what had happened to him as I got closer to the group of teenage thugs.
At last, I got up to them and they began the ritual of hitting me and generally making my life miserable and when I looked up the road, I saw my father parked several hundred yards away - almost out of sight. He had misunderstood about the particular stretch of road, and did not notice the group of boys hitting me until it was almost too late.
Due to a wartime plane-crash, my dad had never been a good runner, and I watched helplessly as he shuffled and hobbled his way toward us. I thought - and hoped - he was going to systematically hit each one of them in turn, but all he did was get a note book out of his pocket and asked for their names and addresses, like an off-duty policeman.
I was horrified and disappointed when they refused to tell him, and I was also shocked that anyone would swear like they did to my father. At least this did the trick, and I was never bothered by them again.
The only time I tried Tenpin's trick of simply hitting a bully, I caught him with a perfect upper-cut which pole-axed him backwards and - to my horror - his teeth clacked shut as he landed flat on the ground, semi-consciously staring at the sky.
I seemed to have knocked the contempt straight out of him and it was miraculously replaced with respect. He wanted to be my best friend after that, and told me so. What strange psychology.