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.

Oh well, I'm off to see my sister.


  1. I have neither been bullied nor been a bully, but it's one of those subjects about which I FUME. Children simply don't understand what long-term harm they do when they pick on someone. Unfortunately schools do very little to rectify the problem.

  2. a case of softly, softly, catchee monkey I would have thought Tom with your dad. I found in my teaching days that most bullies are cowards at heart.

  3. I was shuffled around a bit as a kid. I was a little tubby and very soft. I had to spend some time at a school in Staffordshire and the older boys invented a new game, Nazzie Bashing. I suppose they were bored with Paki Bashing. They always piled into me as a bunch, no Marquis of Queensbury rules and I can't remember how many hidings I took.

    So I knicked a big spanner from the metal workshops, went round to the ring leader's house, knocked on his door and politely asked his Dad if he was at home. When he came to the door, I decked him. Trinder was his name, I'll never forget it.

    His Dad gave me such a thump in the ear I fell on my arse but then asked me what the hell all that was about so I told him. No-one ever touched me after that.

    Trinder was an arsehole, his Dad was pretty cool.

  4. My husband was a tall skinny kid too...and a foreigner...and was also a target.
    He could handle one...but the kids used to waylay him in gangs and his father couldn't have cared less.
    And this was at a 'respectable' school.

    He too adopted the 'look like a madman' technique in later life and it works wonders!

  5. My younger brother was a bully, the older brother a protector. They had to settle a lot of stuff between themselves.

  6. Thankfully, I was never bullied or a bully but, my sister was bullied by the Latin teacher who was only 5 feet 5 ins and wore built up shoes. Our dad went up to see him and gave him a right telling off and my sister was never bothered by him again. As Weave says, bullies are usually cowards and run away when you stand up to them but, that takes quite a bit of courage when you are a child and even more courage when there are lots of them..
    Hope that the trip to see your sister isn't too harrowing Tom. XXXX

  7. Thanks all, and I will react to you individually tomorrow.

    RE my Sis - she is obviously as tough as old boots, but weighs next to nothing. I really believe she will be out and at home again in a few weeks. We (2 nieces and me) were laughing and joking, so the trip was one I am now really pleased I made. More news later.

    Also, I drove past Stonehenge twice today - how lucky am I?

    1. You sound so much happier than yesterday ...... your trip to see your sister was well made and I think that twice past Stonehenge will sprinkle the fairy dust and the money will be pouring in before you can say Hammond organs !! XXXX

    2. That sounds like a good blessing to me, Jack@. Thank you. X