When I was at school I didn’t know one boy in my class who didn’t want to be some kind of martial arts expert. A sort of a cross breed between Bruce Lee, the Karate Kid, and Hong Kong Fooey. There was always one kid who would start a playground fight by making long ululating noises and holding his flat palms out as if he was about to slap a midget in the face. Shortly before trying to kick them in the goolies and hiding in the toilets, that is. And he was usually quite short, as well.
Anyone – girls included – who says they never got into a fight during their school years is either a liar or someone who’s public school allowed them to have professional boxers fag for them during breaks. Running away was never an option as most children can run point to point between the furthest edges of their school in under a minute. You had to stand there, shout a lot, throw a few tentative punches / slaps / kicks and make sure that no matter how bad it was the opponent (or opponents) always got off worse.
As you get older though, you realise that this is not a productive way to conduct business. The biggest attendee swirling his fists in a windmill fashion while stating that all the other people’s mums’ smell of poo, resolves very few important executive meetings. So, unless you work in a kebab shop or are going out with Stan Collymore, as you grow up you tend to lose the ability to diffuse, avoid, and most importantly, WIN fights. And just as importantly, you forget how much it hurts when someone hits you with a fist.
This happened to me a couple of months ago when I was at my comedy club in Brighton and a member of the audience, totally unprovoked, walked up and smacked me in the face. And it wasn’t even as if I hadn’t been that funny on the night. What did I do? Well I’ll tell you what I did. I’LL TELL YOU WHAT I DID. Errrr… nothing. I stood there in shock. Eh? I hadn’t said anything, he had said next to nothing, and then he’d walked off. WALKED. I’m looking at him and I’m almost 6 inches taller than this bloke. Surely, he should have been running. Couldn’t he have even been the slightest bit worried that he’d get ‘a good kicking’ in retaliation and at least jog out? Especially as, in order to keep my ‘manliness’, I had to be seen to go after him. The bloke deserved it. But then it dawned on me that I certainly didn’t want to catch him up. After all, he was a nutter and had just hit someone – he could be dangerous. Maybe he had a knife and was too spontaneous to use it.
But joy and rapture! Just before I caught him up (by which time I was shuffling), two people who knew him stood in my way and told me it wasn’t worth it. They held me back. Thank God. I put up a bit of a struggle to make it look like I needed to chase after the bloke but I never struggled sufficiently to break free of their grasp, no matter how little effort they actually put in. Friends and onlookers gathered round my face (bleeding quite impressively for effect by now) and took it in turns to mouth off how much I didn’t deserve it and what a git this bloke was. And there we have it – a complete unmitigated success. A large bag of sympathy for being the victim of an unprovoked attack and kudos intact for the possible revenge punishment the guy may have experienced. I believe I started quite a few sentences with, “If I ever see that guy again…”. Of course, the full sentence was, “If I ever see that guy again… I’ll run like a horse and hide like a baby.” But no one ever got to hear that.