When it comes down to violence, I have learned to deflect most of it with a well timed bon mot, but sometimes (Fortunately extremely rarely – almost never) that just won’t do. That’s when the Judo used to come in handy. Although not always. Even when I was a Judoka, my Sensei told me I was never going to make it to a black belt because “Bill, you’ve got no style. You’re a street brawler.” Until that time, I’d never heard the word ‘brawler’ spoken in anger. So I looked it up.
Now I don’t think that ‘brawler’ really sums me up. On the one hand I’m more of a trickster who is fully capable of taking it down to the wire if need be, but would rather not. I’m too easy going, too laid back. Life’s too short to spend half of it in custody or the local A & E department. On the other hand, I grew up alongside a few guys who were the real deal. Real tough guys who were missing bits like half their teeth, half an ear here, an eye there; knuckles which were predominantly scar tissue. Hard drinkers (Which happened a lot) and hard fighters (Which happened surprisingly very rarely). Now they were scary. Great bunch providing you learned to stay on the right side of them. If you were part of that peer group (I wasn’t, but I drank elbow to elbow with them on occasion – they tolerated me) you were accepted and officialdom didn’t get bothered with your groups internal disputes, except to pick up the pieces. They dealt with their own disputes and so long as no one got seriously hurt, that was it. Now they were brawlers. Noisy fighters. Two guys with a dispute would ‘step outside’ and deal with it in the car park – no one else was allowed to intervene. Each one had a ‘second’ or friend to watch his back against intervention from the other guys mates. Rather like in the ‘Code Duello’. Nowadays you can’t do this because the sense of personal ‘honour’ is missing and a ‘winning at all costs’ mentality rapidly escalates what used to be single combat into a minor tribal war. Usually, as our local constabulary will no doubt confirm, every Friday and Saturday night.
I think we should allow a form of duelling once more. Non lethal of course. You get into a fight, you get hauled off the streets and put into a quiet yard somewhere first thing the following morning to settle it between yourselves until one party surrenders.
Ever tried to fight with a stinking hangover? Right. Perhaps it would save the magistrates some work and cut down the social services budget. Oh yeah, private medical treatment would be mandatory - don't want to put more strain on the NHS than necessary, do we?
Cartoon by George Cruikshank, Caricaturist