So there I was standing in an upstairs room in a house in New Cross during the Summer of 1997 where my best pals girlfriend at the time was being spoken about by two cretins standing next to me. They did not know who I was.
I sipped my chocolate milk and listened as they plotted the imminent beating of my mate and the molestation of his girl.
I casually left the room to find him. When I did, I informed him that we needed to leave really very quickly and that once he was safe, I would return for his girlfriend, incidentally whose name sounded remarkably like a venereal disease, but that is by the by.
As we started down the stairs these two guys said "There he is' pointing at my chum and making for the top of the stairs. Still not aware that I was with him, I acted like a bungling fool and and prevented their pursuit by blocking the stairs, whilst my pal made it through the front door, out the house and to my car.
I got out the front door and walked towards the car. I got in and explained that he was to remain in the car and not get out whatever happens. I was stuck in work mode and felt in control of the situation. I had none of the risk management tools in place but notwithstanding I felt as if i could 'manage the situation'. I knew that he was the target and that with him out of the picture, things might deescalate.
I got out of the car with the intent of going back into the party and finding the girlfriend. Further up up the centre of the road walked these three baggy trousered thugs. It reminded me of a western movie when there is a line up of goodies and baddies. In this episode there were three relatively short stocky baddies and me. We approached each other with them shouting abuse and gesticulating like they were vexed with me. When we got to a reasonable distance, one of them started literally bouncing his chest off of mine.
He was saying things like "Are you hard, are you?" and all such nonsense illuminated with obscene expletives.
Still in the work mode and I used the standard stock answers:
"I don't have an argument with you"
"Let's all try and calm down now"
"I haven't not sworn at you and so lets not use that kind of language"
Blah, blah blah. These guys were not hearing my words. They just wanted to give someone a kicking. It was pathetic.
Then out of my peripheral vision I remember a forth slightly taller person coming into my field of vision.
He said the six most memorable menacing words I have ever committed to memory:
"Do you know what this is?"
I looked and saw a knuckle duster was adorning his right fist which was raised and was already bearing down on me. I remember feeling my whole body shrink and I answered "Yeah" as it came crashing down on my left brow, which immediately opened, spilling claret down one side of my face.
I had never been hit that hard before and I recall concentrating on 'not falling over'. It seemed almost instinctive to know that had I lost my footing, the other three would start kicking.
Becoming aware of a vehicle driving behind me I turned and flagged down a white van. I spoke to the driver and asked that he just wait for a moment, just long enough for the threat to run off. No sooner had they walked from the tarmac, he was accelerating away. Who can blame him for not helping more? Maybe he was scared.
To cut a long story short, VD girl came running from the house. We got her into the car as the four thugs ran towards my car (at the time a little purple Nissan Micra). I rammed the car into reverse and at speed drove backwards about 100meters before doing a 180 degree turn as if in the films. Even though my brow was split and bleeding, i felt pride at my driving abilities and the responsiveness of the little car.
I dropped the guys home first and then took myself to hospital where I was super glued by a nurse.
That was a night to remember. These days I have a small shadow above my eyebrow when I raise it which means I recall the moment of impact whenever I look in a mirror.