The old quip was that a neoconservative was a liberal who had been mugged. Well, let me tell you about my night on Monday...
I was walking home from the underground station at about 10:30, on my usual route through a small park right across the street from the station. (Cutting through the park is quite commmon for commuters, and it saves me about 15 minutes.) Two "yoots" were standing about 20 yards inside the park. I had just passed them, when one of them said, "What are you looking at?"
(An aside: Just what is it with these ghetto kids and being "looked at"? I mean, it's certainly not a "black thing" -- my two housemates from Ghana never freaked out when I looked at them, nor did any of my reggae bandmates over a decade, nor have I ever met any black professional who got the heebie-jeebies when glanced at. And the white kids who grow up in the projects -- that's council flats, Brits -- seem to have the same desire that others avert their gaze as the black kids do.)
Well, I just hate the idea that all decent people need to move through life cowering from thugs, so I turned around and said, "Well, I was looking at you guys. But that's only because you're standing in the sidewalk, and I didn't want to run into you."
"Well, don't look at anyone when you go through this park."
"Look guys, I look at the tree there and that fence too -- it's not to dis them, but so I don't walk right into them."
Now, I can imagine that, after a minute or so of this, these chaps were thinking, "We're going to have to kick this white boy's ass or he's never going to shut up." But, in fact, I said good night, and turned to walk away, and it seemed they were going to let me go. But then I made what, in retrospect, I see was a terrible mistake. My cell phone buzzed, and I took it out of my pocket to answer it.
Two thoughts must have crossed my friends' minds (such as they are) at that moment:
1) we can steal his cell phone; and
2) he might be calling the police.
The next thing I knew, I felt a tremendous blow to the side of my head. One of them had kicked me there! I fell over onto the grass, and both of them began kicking me as I lay there. I struggled to my feet, and was kicked in the head again.
Here, I must note some admiration for these yoots athleticism. It's not easy to kick someone in the head who is 5'10" and is standing. I imagine the British school system must have given them lots of training in football (soccer), to "keep them out of trouble."
Luckily for me, another train had just come into the station. No doubt worried that others would be passing through the park soon, the lads demanded my money, scooped up my cell phone, and took off running.
Within a minute, a commuter on his cell phone -- to the police it turned out -- came up and asked me if I was OK. Another person helped me to find my glasses. The first fellow led me back to the station and asked for a first aid kit.
A little while later, two cops arrived and interviewed me. They were quite pleasant and sympathetic, and I believe that they really would have liked to catch my assailants, but they held out little hope that they could do so. They called an ambulance, which brought me to the local hospital. As I sat in the waiting room, my landlord and his girlfriend -- who had been told of the attack by the police -- showed up at my side. God bless them! I was checked out by a nurse, who told me I could wait a few hours to see a doctor. I asked if there was anything life-threatening about my injuries. She said "No," and I said, "Then I think I'll go home." And so I did.
So, what is an anarchist after he's been mugged? Still an anarchist, it seems. Other then sending around two pleasant blokes to chat with me for a bit, the state did nothing to either prevent or redress the attack. And, by severely restricting the right of British citizens to defend themselves, the UK government has doubtlessly given people like my park friends a great deal more confidence that they can pull off such assaults without, say, being shot in the head.
However, while such an incident may not change an anarchist's views, it can change the view of him -- besides the obvious black eye, you can see that a part of my nose now juts out to the (image's) left, while the little red circle on the right abbove my moustache is where my tooth poked right through my cheek: