It Could Have Ended Badly

One November probably 2002 I had an encounter with a gang of around 10 youths early evening on my way home from shopping. My rucksack was full, and I had treated myself to an expensive bottle of wine. As I entered my street, they fired a rocket {firework} at me and one of them ran past and tried to “happy slap” me. I tried to kick him as he approached using ushiro-geri {back kick}. I had forgotten about the ruck sack, so I stumbled and fell. He missed. I got up and carried on down my road.

The gang started to trail me. This was not looking good. I was by now in full martial awareness. I thought where I could have my back protected and when I got to the railings of this school, I took off my rucksack and my overcoat and placed them on the floor under this streetlight.

As I was doing this one of the gang was getting closer. I turned to him and with an elaborate and overstated move I adopted a full fighting stance. I had resolved that I would not hold anything back and that if I had to break joints or choke someone out I would. I was ready to make my last stand. If you can break boards punching and kicking you are pretty sure that you might do a rib or two. I was prepared to go whole hog.

This is where I could have died.

A couple of the lads feigned to attack but thought the better of it. There was something dramatic and purposeful about my actions which made them back off. I walked passed that gang on many subsequent occasions, never a problem after that.

It was one of only two problems that I had in near a decade of living in Brixton. Not long before I was due to leave, I was walking past a Jamaican man outside my home and for no apparent reason he lashed out as he was passing and punched me in the forehead. I felt him injure his hand. I was briefly stunned. I turned to watch him walk away shaking his hand.  

“Time to leave this place”, I thought…