Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Real life

Some observations of foreign types in crowds

There was some strange behaviour outside my hotel this evening, instead of the usual languid European-style pavement restaurant with a few, mainly elderly residents enjoying their café under an iridescent evening sun as a few blonde haired goddesses drift by aimlessly on bicycles, there was a massed throng of unruly teens and drunken men filling the square in front of my hotel.

I presumed that it was some form of political protest as they were uniformly dressed alike, but apparently not, it was in fact an opportunity to get utterly paralytic on Heineken served in plastic cups while watching a giant TV screen erected at the end of the not-so-very-grand place. I initially presumed they were there to watch the local version of “America’s Next One Hit Wonder” or whatever it is called in The Land of Clogs.

(more…)

How to be human 101 – Empathy

Bad RobotIn my early years I had an all encompassing belief that the universe revolved around my arse. Apparently this is quite common among single children and ‘tail end charlies’ like myself, whose elder brothers were nearly 10-years older than me.

It also didn’t help that I came into my mothers life at a very difficult time when she was being physically abused by my father, as she told me in later years, I was the raft that she clung to during the storms of her turbulent marriage. She finally divorced my father when he was coming up for retirement as she couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck in the house with the miserable old bastard 24/7. (more…)

The Rumble in the Ryton Jungle.

Remember when you were at school and the finest entertainment on offer was either a ZX-Spectrum or a fight?

This wasn’t a fight as such. It was more of a clinical chinning carried out with strength and skill.

Side note – the chinner, N, I subsequently had a fight with over a complete misunderstanding and we both escaped unscathed because I guess his heart wasn’t in it, I’m good defensively and he fought like a gentleman (as did I). I once had the greasy acne ridden face of the vile D in my hands and just couldn’t bring myself to use my advantage and push those thumbs into his eye-sockets. I guess I learned then I’m not a fighter. I’m nowhere near dirty enough.

Anyway, onto the subject. Or object? Hawthorne was a vile piece of work. He was only at Ryton Comp because he’d been kicked-out of everywhere else. We took a lot of them. Anyway he wandered the school invariably with with his concubines each under an arm in an ape-like progression and wearing knock-off Raybans. He was an amoral cunt of the first water. I mean utterly amoral. And utterly a cunt. He used his size to intimidate and the fact that he very clearly didn’t give a tinker’s for anything good or decent and set himself-up as a sort of spectre of menace on the corridors of the school. I mean like most of us wanted to just get through school with qualifications for jobs or university or the military or something. Hawthorne didn’t give a toss about anything. Even the girls he “squired” were a rotating smorgasbord of slags.

One day though he got too artistic. N had come into the school yard after running training (he was a county sprinter) and put his sports bag down (Head bag – standard issue in the ’80s) with all his stuff in it. Now N was widely regarded as the hardest lad in the year, if not the school and I bet this riled Hawthorne who coveted this “prize” (I use the quotes because N never sort fame or domination or such) so Hawthorne in what can only be described as an “Imp of the Perverse” moment urinated into N’s open bag.

What happened next ought to have been filmed Matrix style with a cool soundtrack. N got the mist and it was red. All his PE kit, his books, everything had been pissed on. I don’t know the time of this action but I can still guess at the distance and it was probably less than 10m. N went into overdrive and Hawthorne went continually backwards under a hail of blows that would shame Jackie Chan. He lost consciousness and also bladder control just against the chainlink around the yard. The teacher on yard duty kept on sucking sweets the whole time – which wasn’t long. A number of things resulted from this…

Hawthorne’s attempt at behaving as an object of menace ceased. I mean after several hundred kids had seen him comatose and spread-eagled with wet trousers his stock as a gangster had diminished.

Nothing happened to N. It was generally seen as a Good Thing.

The chainlink had to be fixed. This is because it partially collapsed due to the crush of kids wanting to see the action.

N continued his athletics and it held him in good stead because the next time after leaving school I saw him was on TV being interviewed by ITN. He had joined the merchant navy and was a junior officer on a tanker that collided with another vessel in the Channel. He got off sharpish when it burst into flames and was one of the few (the only?) survivor on the ship. He ran the length of the deck and leaped to safety into the briny and swam like hell. I suspect if anyone had been there to time it Usain Bolt would be looking a bit sheepish now. I saw him in a local pub shortly after (he’d been given leave) and bought him a pint. A lot of people did.

What happened to Hawthorne I neither know nor care.

But that was an epic fight.