I stopped getting into fights by my mid-20s. I was stupid for getting into trouble, couldn’t find a way to back down, but when I met my girl she said, get into another fight and I’ll leave you. So I stopped.
One of the last encounters I had though, was with three bodybuilders outside of a gym which was next to a rehearsal room I used. These guys had been taking turns to beat up the locals. Maybe it was my turn in the barrel but, whatever the stupid reason, it all kicked off and I didn’t come out of it well. I ended up in casualty, my left eye was just about closed, I couldn’t quite close my jaw properly and I had a badly swollen left arm where one of them had hit me with a plank of wood. So I thought I’d better get checked out.
When I spoke to the receptionist at casualty she asked, ‘What happened to you?’ and as I glanced around the waiting room I saw the three guys I’d had a fight with. ‘They happened to me.’
‘The one I the middle has a concussion, a possible fractured skull,’ she told me as I filled out the forms. ‘What happened to him?’
‘I did,’ I told her.
I went over to chat to them and one of them jeered, ‘We did you in.’
‘I’m still standing,’ I said. And I was. The main guy I’d been fighting with, before his friends jumped in to help, he sat with his head in his hands, looking a bit out of it. I’d hit him with an exhaust pipe, repeatedly.
I went and sat somewhere else.
I didn’t win that fight. We just fought to a standstill. No one came out of it covered in glory. I had a hairline fracture of my arm and a puncture wound too, because the plank had a nail embedded in it. A dislocated jaw where the other friend hit me with a brick*. My eye was closed shut for a fortnight. I didn’t feel good.
But those three never went back to the gym. They stopped beating up my friends. The main guy kept on beating up people, but not near the gym or the rehearsal room. I had one fight after that, then I met my girl. So I stopped.
Why am I talking about this? I had some news today that made me unhappy, and the mood I have now is the same one I had as I sat alone in casualty, waiting for an x-ray. Ferocious gloom.
*If you’ve never witnessed a real streetfight, it’s not like you see in the movies. It happens about ten times as fast, with one tenth of the skill, it’s nasty, brutal, and the fighters employ whatever comes to hand. I’m so very glad I stopped all that nonsense.