An Alphabet Of My Life: V


Fortunately, I have been more of a witness to violence than a victim of it during my life, save for a few notable occasions when I was on the receiving end.

At school, fights were common. They seemed to start over nothing, and end quickly. If teachers did not step in fast enough, a larger boy usually overpowered a smaller one to gain victory. I was popular enough not to be picked on, and good enough at talking my way out of potentially violent siuations when the need arose.

In my teens, South London pubs could sometimes be violent places. Older men, sometimes criminals or gangsters, might suddenly start fighting. Those fights could be brutal, involving bottles, broken drinking glasses, and anything heavy that came to hand. I tried to leave when that happened, or at least keep out of the way. But one time a man hit me with a bar stool, which knocked me flat and made me see stars. When he realised that I was not one of the people he was fighting, he helped me up and apologised.

Some years later, I was involved in a violent street robbery, attacked by three men as I was about to deposit money in a bank. When I tried to hang on to the cash-bag, they kicked me in the head until I had to let go. Luckily, I was young and strong then, so suffered no long-lasting effects.

Being an EMT can be dangerous. More dangerous than you might ever expect it to be. Drunk people, plain nasty people, psychiatric patients, drug users hallucinating, all of those are likely to try to do you harm. I have been kicked in the face by a drunk, threatened with knives, a machete, and even a loaded shotgun. It was hard to believe when I joined the Ambulance Service, that such a large percentage of the public in London would consider me to be a valid target of their violent aggression.

But the real violence was what I witnessed in my job, not what happened to me personally. Stabbings, shootings, terrorist bombings. Faces slashed with knives or burned with acid, terrible beatings with blunt objects. Long bones broken, skulls fractured, noses and ears cut off. Murders by strangling, murders by drowning someone in a bath, toilet bowl, or wash-basin, and on one occasion, even a decapitation using a hand-axe. It is equally hard to believe how quickly I got used to such things, and was not fazed by them.

London can be a violent city. If you are somewhere at the wrong time, or involved with the people for whom violence is always their first option.

51 thoughts on “An Alphabet Of My Life: V

  1. Wow! I have experienced very little violence in my life. My dad was a quiet man and I can not recall ever hearing him yell. I live in the suburbs and it’s pretty calm in my part of town. I can’t imagine dealing with the sort of violence you’ve had to deal with in your life. Amazing. Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Most animals kill and maim for food not so man the violence they inflict on others is off the scale at times and very difficult to comprehend the why’s and how…I commend you for the job you did, Pete and you are correct when you say you have to harden yourself to it or you couldn’t do it…x

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  3. (1) A pugnacious alien once struck the USS Enterprise bartender in Ten Forward with a bar stool after being refused another drink because he was totally plastered already. The assault caused the bartender to see stars. In fact, a whole galaxy full of them! Once the alien sobered up, he apologized to the bartender and offered a cultural contribution to the human species.
    (2) Overheard:
    Mr. Johnson, dazed: “Oh, man! It’s dangerous to deposit cash-bags in this bank!”
    Mr. Penn, bank teller: “Yeah, ain’t that a kick in the head?!”
    (3) Don’t tell me Danny Trejo threatened you with a machete?!
    (4) London can be a violent city. The other day, one of the judges referred to Francis, a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent, with the wrong pronoun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, it’s sickening how some people treat NHS staff/ambulance staff. I’ve been on the receiving end of angry patients shouting the odds at the length of the waiting list, but not actual physical violence thankfully.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember a Casualty Sister being punched numerous times and having teeth knocked out. The man who did that received a £100 fine for ‘Common Assault’. And all because he thought his girlfriend had been waiting too long to be seen. Disgraceful.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That all sounds quite dreadful and it’s awful that one can become immune, though you could not survive in the job otherwise. You should have been getting paid what all those jumped up politicians get.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Been in those bars, frat houses and even schools where people’d get set off and the only way out was wielding a microphone stand. As well as the stage enclosed with chicken wire in Wyoming where, when asked why, the owner said “You’ll see.” What people can do to each other is beyond belief.

    Liked by 1 person

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