I haven’t posted anything new for quite a while now – a minor but tragic consequence of the fact that I basically uprooted my life and transplanted it in a different continent over the course of the last 6 months. A new job, new address, new time zones, new friends – they all tend to have a cumulative effect on the psyche which, when combined with the mental exhaustion of having to figure out which set of trains are late, cancelled or simply running on its own without a driver, can be overwhelming.
That and the fact that I was involved in a minor dust up of the rolled up sleeves and screwed up biceps variety.
I had a conflicting image of life in UK before I landed on the shores of the erstwhile Empire nearly 6 months ago. You see, on the one hand, I had this image of a prim & proper Victorian era England – that of the Sherlock Holmes and Dickens variety and on the other hand, a dark, hopeless underbelly in the form of Guy Ritchie’s movies and Simon Cowell’s smug grin. To me it seemed a contradiction that the same culture that gave rise to Shakespeare could also give birth to Gordon Ramsay. But then, c’est la vie, as Vinnie Jones might say.
|The Good, The Badass and the Ugly. In that order
Anyway, I digress. The brawl. Upon afterthought, it was your normal garden variety knuckle dustup, in the sense that it did indeed occur in a garden. At the time of the incident I was sharing a flat in Burnham with a few guys and a girl. She was a beautiful French lady, and was currently single. Of course there was a fair amount of jostling amongst the other single guys in the pack for her attention. I tried to stay out of the rat race, not wishing to pile on to the confusion. However, a rather red blooded Irishman who was her neighbour in the flat and who considered himself the worthiest of the lot vying for her attention purely due to his proximity to her, somehow got it into his head that I was employing reverse psychology to differentiate myself from the others (by not paying the girl enough attention) so she would notice. The good Lord had seen fit, for reasons best known to Him, to supply this enterprising guy with more brawns than brain, and before you could say hors-d’oeuvre, things came to a head one fine December night.
It all happened in a single Act, spanning 3 scenes. I was due to fly out the next day back to Singapore, and was in the process of enjoying a quick meal in the small garden that was attached to the flat, when the curtains rose
Act 1 – Scene 1
1. Yours truly, entering the garden front center, balancing a plate of pasta in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.
2. Aforementioned Irish man, seen already in the garden, head lolling to one side, gently muttering to himself. It was only much later into the proceeding that I learned this was not a common behavior amongst Irishmen, being confined to only those who are high on weed
3. Frenchwoman , entering garden far left, for a quick smoke before turning in
Yours truly – Pretty clear night huh?
Frenchwoman – Oui. You can see the moon very clearly. It’s beautiful.
Irishman – Two more pints for me, Andrew. (We never learned who Andrew was supposed to be)
Frenchwoman – What’s that?
Me – No clue. Why’s he looking at you queerly?
FW – It’s not me he’s looking at. It’s you.
Me – Ahh, so he is (You see, due to the peculiar angle at which his head was set on his shoulders, it seemed to me that he was actually goggling at her, whereas in reality he was just staring at me)
IM – Two chickens for you eh? What do you think you are doing with her? (Here he definitely pointed his head at the Frenchwoman)
Me – Chicken? No this is just a veggie pasta
Frenchwoman – What do you mean by that? Are we going to start again? (Apparently, they had a small tiff the previous evening, but I had no way of knowing that then)
Me – Ahh, not the pasta then. Should I leave you two to it?
FW – No dear, that’s not needed at all. You enjoy your dinner. I don’t like it here anymore.
Exit FW, far left. Yours truly sets the pasta down for a quick chow. Irishman drools a little spitball down his chin. Scene 1 ends.
Act 1 – Scene 2
Yours truly – Seated garden centre, making short work of the pasta
IM – Seen walking in the general direction of the pasta
IM – Good pasta, eh?
Me – Mmph. Ishgood.
IM- I know what you are doing.
Me – ‘course you do. You are looking at it.
IM – You can’t have her.
Me – It doesn’t have a gender. Its tasty, but gender neutral.
IM – I’ll fucking break your arm.
Me – Ehh ?
IM – I said, I’ll fucking break your arm if you go near ‘er.
Me – Near who?
IM – I know what you are doing.
That didn’t look like it was going anywhere fruitful, and given the fact that he was once again giving me the head to the side baleful stare, I thought it better to vacate the premises. I rose and started walking back to the door. That was when things started to heat up properly. Just as I was reaching for the door-handle, the Irishman rolled up and placed a threatening hand on it.
IM – You’re not going anywhere.
Scene 2 ends
Act 1 Scene 3
Me – Found garden front center near door, frozen in place with a half empty plate of pasta in one hand
Irishman – Found same place, with malevolent intent
The IM took off his shirt for some strange reason. The charitable explanation was that he didn’t want his range of motion being limited, but it was hard to tell.
IM – You tell Andrew he can’t have his chicken.
Me – Of course, will that be all?
IM – I’ll break your hand
Me – Let’s table that discussion for another day
IM – You are a pussy
Me – Not a chicken?
IM – No. A pussy. Here, take that.
With that, he lunged towards me, with the vague intention of clapping me in a bear hug. I stepped out of the way. Not with any tactical plan of action in mind, but merely being a gentleman, I was anxious not to be an impediment in his path. In his fury, he lunged out with his hands as well as his body, reaching for and latching onto the pasta plate in his motion.
After his forward momentum wore off, he came to a halt about 2 meters in front of me , turned around, and was surprised to find an empty pasta plate in his hand, the remaining contents strewn liberally about the floor separating him from me.
IM – Why did you give me this?
Me – Errm, because it was good pasta?
IM – You tricked me. And her. Andrew said you would, you bastard.
Me – That pains me. Why did he say such a thing?
IM – Who?
Me – Andrew. Why would he say such a thing about me?
IM – Who’s Andrew?
Me – Ahh. Never mind.
IM (thinking about this for a minute, and coming to a conclusion) – I know what to do. I’ll break your arm.
With that, he lunged again, thrusting the plate in front of him. However, in his return flight, he neglected to sidestep a small knot of pasta which had spilled down during the forward leg of his journey, and went down face first, still holding the plate out in front of him. I reached out without thinking, and in a beautifully choreographed ballet of violence, he handed me the plate, avoided my outstretched arm, and crashed face first into the patio.
End of play
I was never much interested in taking security seriously, but now I’m thinking about it. The idiot was too high that night to tell his face apart from the patio floor, but I may yet run into another such character during my stay here, and the next time I don’t want to rely on my dietary choices to save me. If there is anything Guy Ritchie has taught me, it’s to cover my bases and hire a gypsy bodyguard.
|I bet ya can box a little, can’t ya sir? Aye, you look like a boxer.