6. Fighting Back

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Descriptive content

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30th March 2020. Day 8 of lockdown, day 10 of shielding from pandemic. I’m sitting by my front door, in my wheelchair, getting some air, I’m wearing my mask.A skinhead walks past glaring at me, and shouts ‘Baaaah Baaah! Take that fuckin’ mask off! Stupid! ‘Fuckin’ sheep!’ He turns back and spits at me. It falls just short of the wheelchair. He starts up my path and tries again. I pull the chair back as fast as I can and slam the door! Once I was sure he’d gone I disinfected the front door. But I realise I’d had a run in with him before.

We flashback to September 2019, Coventry. I’m pushing myself home from work, it’s around 10.00pm, dark and raining. Two men, skinheads, are walking on the other side of the road, same direction as me, but a few feet behind. One of them shouts at me. ‘Fuckin’ Islamist cripple! Takin’ our fuckin’ benefits!’ I think to myself, ‘it must be the hat and beard, idiots.’The other skinhead shouts, ‘What happened? Didn’t your suicide vest do the job properly? Fucka!!’ The penny drops as they get closer. The first skinhead says ‘Shit he’s white.’ ‘Sorry mate! Thought you were a… I interrupt saying ‘And what if I was,’ The older one berates the younger one.‘What y’ sayin’ sorry for! He’s still a fuckin’ scrounging cripple in-he!’ They start chanting… ‘Scrounga, Scrounga. And run off laughing. Such idiots, they seem to think everyone with a beard and hat is Asian and every Muslim is an Islamist. Can’t imagine how they’d react if they discovered I’m actually a Buddhist.

We flash forward to the following night. Again I’m pushing myself home on the same stretch of road. I hear footsteps behind me on the other side of the road. And a woman’s voice, asking me if I’d like some help. A young East Asian  woman is crossing the road wearing a Shayla style Hijab. She places her hand on her heart as a greeting. I reply, ‘Oh thank you. If you don’t mind, I have a shoulder injury and I’m struggling a bit.’ She assures me it’s no problem and asks how far I’m going. ‘Just to the crossroads, l’m just around the corner. She steps behind me and starts pushing the wheelchair and tells me it’s on her route.‘Thank you.’ I say, ‘Are you studying here?’ She tells me she is taking business studies and is in her 2nd year. ‘How are you enjoying Coventry?’ I ask. She says it’s very different from Ontario, where she grew up after her parents emigrated from Taiwan. But that she likes Coventry a lot. I thank her as we reach the crossroads, and we part company. I find myself thinking I hope she doesn’t encounter those idiots from last night, and-  that I’d rather live in her world than theirs.

Visual Mix

17th September 2020, Day 186 of shielding from the Pandemic. I’m sitting at my front door again, in my wheelchair, and wearing my mask. A man is walking past on the other side of the road. He shouts. ‘Hey you! Take that fucking mask off! You stupid Fuckin’ cripple!’ He bends down and picks up a stone. ‘Stupid Spastic!’ He shouts again. Its like they all follow the same script! He picks up a plank of wood and screams, as he runs across the road straight at me. ‘RAAAAAAAAAAARGH!’ I back up the chair as fast as I can, and slam the door shut. He bangs on the door! And shouts! ‘Next time I’m bringing a fuckin’ baseball bat! I hear him run off, still shouting.

We flash-back to Springfield park, Forest Hall. July 1977, early evening. I’m with my sister Susan, though older than me, she has learning difficulties, and is like a little kid when it comes to the park. Susan asks: ‘When do you start training with Mr Tse?’ ‘Saturday Afternoon’ I say. Susan replies ‘Mam says you have to go down the slide first, make sure it’s safe.’ I say that ‘No she didn’t. She said I had to look after you.’ Susan replies ‘Exactly, by checking the slide’s safe!’ I concede ‘sigh… Ok just this once then.’ I climb up the ladder to the top of the slide. I complain that ‘I’m to old to play on slides.’ I start to go down the slide head first. ‘Whaaaa!’ I scream!

As I see that there is cheese wire stretched across the bottom of the slide, held either side by two huge skinheads! I grab their wrists as hard as I can.

And pull as hard as I can! Forcing them to butt heads, They let go of the wire as they both fall backwards to the ground, and I fall off the slide. One skinhead shouts ‘I’ll kill you’ I tell him to stay back. I hear another voice behind me. ‘Hey spacka!’

‘What the Fuck!’ I shout. There’s another huge skinhead standing over me with a baseball bat. He growls. ‘BASTARD!’ He swings the bat down at me, I manage to deflect it with my forearm.

I punch up, catching him in the solar plexus. He groans ‘Ughhfff!’ I look around for Susan and grab my walking sticks.

 ‘Hey!’ The skinhead shouts, as I stand up with my sticks. ‘Susan! Run!’ I say. The skinhead yells ‘Fuckin’ Spastic!’ As we run away. We now flash-forward four years to an art centre where I’m teaching a children’s summer art class. ‘Excuse me sir, says a young boy called Simeon.

He complains that his picture is all squishy. ‘Let’s have a look, I think you used too much ink’. ‘Let’s try a different method. Roll the ink on to the plate,’ ‘Gently lay the paper on top, then you draw on the back, and peel the paper back.’ I reveal the drawing, and Simeon declares it ‘cool’. He tells me it looks like his favourite teaching assistant Miss Velasquez. She appears as if on queue, and informs me that we have a situation.

She asks for a word outside, and informs me that theirs a young man who wants To join the session, she’s explained that it’s a children’s workshop, and that he Doesn’t want to Leave. ‘Ok, I’ll have a chat with him. I reply We walk along the corridor to the reception area. As I open the door I recognise him immediately as one of the skinheads who’d attacked me and Susan in the park years ago. Though his hair is longer and his clothes are cleaner, but he’s still wearing the ‘bovver boots, as we called them. He recognises me almost simultaneously.

‘AAAAAHH!!’ He shouts and jumps back startled. ‘Easy. I just want to talk.’ I say, trying to reassure him. Miss Valasquez looks confused, not unsurprisingly.’ I pull up a seat, and try to look as calm as I can. He looks quizzical, but pulls up a seat after a few seconds and starts to talk. ‘He said I was a Monsta.

‘He said I was a Monsta.’We now flash back to his childhood home. ‘My dad would grab me by my hair and call me a Monsta, an ugly sod. He’d grab my neck hard and push my face at the mirror, day after day, shouting ‘Ugly, ugly, ugly. I started to believe it, I watched the image in the mirror turn into a Monsta. I smashed me head into the mirror. He Grunts, Ugly! Ugly!

‘I wanted to fuck everything up. The mirras in me house! Me mates! Aaagh! fuck you! Fuck me! Fuck! He shouts punching the mirror. The next time me dad called me ugly, my new national front mates, said a shud Glass him, an cut him… a did.

‘Afta the fight in the park, a woke up in the hospital. Y’ fucked me up, Broke me ribs ‘n’ shit. A started smashing’ the mirrors, cutting me self’ An stuff. This woman said to draw me self and tare the pictures up. Better than smashin’ mirrors.’ A thought it was daft, but it was better than going to the mental hospital.

A started drawing self-portraits and ripping them up, hated me face. But I got better at it, an started to like the pictures, and my face.

A stopped smashing mirrors, and got into drawing’ But I don’t like anything with blokes my age. I’ll  just get in trouble. A don’t want to hurt people no more. Hated hospital but it was a good thing. If you hadn't fucked me up an put me in there, I’d be dead. Likely down the glebe with my throat cut, so thanks

Visual Mix

Al is exiting Aberdeen airport in his wheelchair. ‘Aberdeen Airport. On my way to Asylum Books and Games for a book signing. A taxi Driver shouts: ‘Davison? For Adelphi?’ Al replies ‘Yes.’ The taxi driver says: ‘They didn’t tell me you were one of... that you had a wheelchair.’ Al replies: ‘Well we did inform them.’ Al: Narrating: I can hear him struggling to get the wheelchair in the boot. Taxi Driver grumbles: ‘Fuck.’ The driver slams the boot closed, and gets in the car, slamming the door shut as well. he speaks: ‘You know...You should kill yourself.’

Al replies, looking shocked. ‘What did you say?’ The taxi Driver replies hesitantly: ‘Er, I said if I had to live your life I’d kill myself.’ Al replies angrily. ‘No you didn’t. You said I should kill myself.’ The taxi Driver speaks quietly. ‘I couldn’t live with that, what would be the point?Al replies ‘That? My lower legs are paralysed, that’s all. As for my life...''

'...You couldn’t live with having a lovely wife? family? A dream job, where I get to travel and do book signings? That life?’ Taxi Driver, almost whispering. ‘Selfish. She could have a normal husband, but you make her pity you and now she has to look at you everyday, and well... ugh! Then he shouts: ‘What’s the fucking hold up.And hits car horn a few times. The Taxi driver speaks quietly again: ‘And you go out, travel, knowing that people are disgusted, and will attack you. You make nice people help you, put them at risk. He hits the car horn again and shouts. ‘Move!’

Al: Narrating. While the traffics stopped I look up a video on my mobile phone and stick it in his face. Al speaks: ‘Oh I get attacked, but I handle that myself.’ Al: Narrating. The video is of me doing a martial arts demo. He looks at it and glances at me confused. Al speaks again: ‘So how about you shut-the-fuck-up, for the rest of the drive. Or do you want a live demo?’ Al: Narrating.  The taxi driver muttered to himself then went quiet. The rest of the journey went without incident. I phoned in a complaint to the office when I got to my hosts.

Visual Mix

Martial Arts