Fighting Part 3

July 9, 2007 at 3:08 pm 12 comments

c56588mike-tyson-and-frank-bruno-posters.jpg

Handsworth To Oxford

 Handsworth was a dangerous place in general in the 80s. There were race riots in 1981 and again in 1985. In the latter, an Asian family lost their lives. They were burnt alive above the Post Office they managed.

During the first race riot, I had to be “evacuated” from school. It was a Sunday and we had been playing cricket and had just returned to school in the mini-bus. Normally I would have made my way home by bus. But, on this hot, Sunday evening the riot was kicking off, prompted by the arrest of a local drug dealer. The school, being predominantly white, became a target. We had to be escorted out of school under police guard. It was quite exciting. It was quite frightening.

When we returned to school on Monday, Handsworth was a mess. The Soho and Lozells roads were littered with burnt out cars. School had most of its windows smashed. It was quite exciting swapping stories with the other kids, especially those who lived in the area. The Weir twins had been arrested and subsequently released. They claimed they had just gone to watch but got caught up in a police baton charge. They got a beating, but not from the police. They got their beating from their mom – five foot nothing of old-fashioned Jamaican maternal discipline. They were good lads and should have known better than to get involved.

Things were always a bit more tense in the area after that. I remember once bunking off with a mate and going to the local snooker club. It smelled of weed. Dope. Ganja. We were in there for just 30 seconds. We were the only white faces. Everything stopped. It was like a movie. It was like the pub scene in American Werewolf (Jenny Agutter. Since the Railway Children, I’ve never seen a film where she kept her clothes on. And, I’m not sure I want to. Sigh….). Nothing was said, but the look in their collective eyes shouted. We were not welcome there. We went back to school.image

Suffice to say that at Grammar School I learnt to fight. I learnt to stand my ground. Actually, by building a certain reputation and by developing a certain stern look I managed, mostly, to avoid an actual fight. Normally the other guy would back down. Indeed I can still conjure that “stern look” today. I t is very effective when dealing with noisy teenagers in cinemas, or, when kids try to push into queues.

Fortunately, there has not been much cause for fighting since Handsworth. True my nickname at Oxford, at least within the public school circles of the “Iffley Yahs” was “The Inner City Lad”. It could have been worse though. They referred to one of my best mates from Birmingham as the “Neanderthal” (but if you had met him then you would have understood why)……I did get a bit “feisty” when captaining the so-called “Animals” football team. And, there was a time when I did terrorise one of the “Iffley Yahs” by pinning him against the college wall by the throat. Sorry Simon. I hope this does not explain your absence from the Friendsreunited website.Otherwise, Oxford was pretty fight free. One of my duties as Social Secretary seemed to be to “intimidate” certain rowdy types to leave the Beer Cellar on “Sweaty Bop” disco nights. It was my experience that your average Oxford student was pretty easily intimidated. Your public school types are not so streetwise and tend to rely on their wits more than their fists. And, they are generally lacking in wits. Certain more direct pressure was brought to bear on one MD when he refused to leave my girlfriend alone.

Indeed, I only have few recollections of real violence while at Oxford. One was when I was back at college a year after leaving. We were there as part of the Old Members Football team playing the annual fixture against the current college team. I had to intervene between my mate (the Neanderthal) and a “Townie” who had insulted his fiancée. My mate knocked the “Townie” clean into the middle of the street (and next week) even though the “Townie” was wearing a motorcycle helmet. I stepped in, with the two other mates we were with, when he came back with a tyre lever. It was the night that Frank Bruno was fighting (and losing) against Mike Tyson in the World Heavyweight Championship. …Frank lost. The “Town v Gown” fight had been much more impressive. 

Advertisements

Entry filed under: childhood memories, Oxford, School. Tags: , , , .

Early Education Part 5 The Times They Are A Changin Part 1

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sugali  |  April 11, 2008 at 8:16 am

    This is really interesting reading. I heard about the riots there. It must have been very tense moments for everyone. It is no wonder you turned feisty……………….makes a good movie!

    Like

    Reply
  • 2. Billigflug  |  December 10, 2008 at 10:44 am

    “We were the only white faces. Everything stopped. It was like a movie. It was like the pub scene …”
    it seems like in a hollywood film
    really interesting to read about it, i have heard about therace riots there caused by heavy-handed policing and drug-related problems.
    nice to know how it really happend

    Like

    Reply
  • 3. akinsankofa  |  February 17, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    actually mr middle man “The Weir twins had been arrested and subsequently released. They claimed they had just gone to watch but got caught up in a police baton charge. They got a beating, but not from the police. They got their beating from their mom – five foot nothing of old-fashioned Jamaican maternal discipline. They were good lads and should have known better than to get involved.”
    is untrue – what is true is that yes my mum was five feet of Jamaican maternal discipline – and yes I am one of the twins – but during the riots we were all safely at home – studying – there ws no straying into Lozells Road at that time. i did some years later work in that part of Handsworth and did find out about the causes,etc. of the riots in 1981 and 1985 but that is another story

    Like

    Reply
  • 4. Middle Man  |  February 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Well Mr Weir welcome!

    Well there was much mythology about you at the time and the memory is not what it was……..No offence intended. Trust you are well and enjoying life.

    Like

    Reply
  • 5. akinsankofa  |  February 17, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    mr middle man

    I am definiely enjoying life at present and in good health- great to hear from you – got to reading your posts about the weird world of HGS – i have been fortunate to do a job that gives me the freedom to work independently and to at times blog. I have just set up my stuff for my own blog – you arte forewarned – there will be stories.

    Like

    Reply
  • 6. Middle Man  |  February 18, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Dear WW (whichever twin you are),

    And, good to hear from you too. I look forward to reading your stories and maybe hearing all about what you and your brothers have been up to over the last 24 years. Can you believe it has been that long?

    Like

    Reply
  • 7. marcel  |  February 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    BBC 1 TV “Inside Out”

    Portrait of Handsworth riots 1985 by Pogus Caesar

    Like

    Reply
    • 8. aks  |  February 19, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      an excellent pice of ethnographic research from the birmingham photographer Pogus Caesar about what really happened in those riots of 1985

      Like

      Reply
  • 9. Paul  |  February 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I do hope Caesar’s pictures become available to students with particular interest in inner city conflict. Well done.

    Like

    Reply
  • 10. Zhou  |  February 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    very well balance film

    Like

    Reply
  • 11. Rootsmanzdem  |  June 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    History retold in Caesar’s documentary.

    Like

    Reply
  • 12. It’s 1981 Again « Middle Man  |  August 9, 2011 at 8:10 am

    […] Comments dannyllama on Fallen HeroesRootsmanzdem on Fighting Part 3akinsankofa on Hypocrisyakinsankofa on A Tale Of Two CabbiesMiddle Man on Hypocrisy Email […]

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Archives

Follow me on Twitter

My Tweets

Enter your email address to receive new posts.

Join 236 other followers

Blogs I Follow

Blog Stats

  • 693,142 hits

Flag Counter

Social


Travels 2016

Lesley Jennings

In and Around Shere

A beautiful area in the heart of the Surrey Hills

Talking in circles

Graduate, dog-lover and cake aficionado. Really.

21c Scotland

Scottish Blue Badge Guide

Libatio

These are the sometimes irreverent ramblings and observations of an English middle-aged man and middle manager.....

Public Value for Money

These are the sometimes irreverent ramblings and observations of an English middle-aged man and middle manager.....

Fit and Fabulous at 40 Plus

Rediscover yourself - food, inspiration & training programmes

Akinsankofa's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

expatnewby

My own, honest (ish) thoughts and fears of expat life.

%d bloggers like this: