Tis true that as a youngster I felt that I could take on the world and that I would always come out unscathed, yet looking back this certainly was not always the case and I received more beatings than was probably healthy for me and some of the scrapes I found myself in? well I guess that I'm lucky just to be whinging about my knees as I approach my half century, although I'm sure that there is plenty of past injuries and bodily misuse awaiting to come back and bite me in the arse in the the not so far future.
Oh and whilst I'm waffling on I lay the blame totally and one hundred percent at the feet of my father, Wooldridge senior, for many, many beatings received! Now don't ye start thinking that I had a terrible upbringing at the hands of my parents 'cause that could not be further from the truth. In fact I couldn't have wished for a better upbringing as they brought me up with unconditional love but also gave me a strong backbone with which to face the world, it's no fault of theirs that my mind fell into the dark places. But why blame my father for an above average number of beatings? Well just because of a little snippet of Wooldridge wisdom he graciously bestowed on me, the bastard. It went something like this... " Son I'm not advocating that using your fists is an answer that you should resort to but there may be times that this is unavoidable. So, if ever faced with a situation where conflict is inevitable don't be a gentleman and await the first blow, get yours in first and make it a bloody good one. Also if faced with more than one aggressor always smack the biggest one first because if he goes down then the others will be sure to hesitate in continuing with the conflict"..... oh well done dad! So now this five and a half foot tall, already instilled with a short fused temper and testosterone filled callow youth now had a set of fatherly guidelines which will be sure to keep him safe and sound, not! My then circle of friends must have loved it as we strolled drunkenly around town because if there was ever the slightest, alcohol fueled, hint of trouble yours truly would jump on the biggest bugger whilst my 'mates' either ran like school girls or at least only had normal sized opponents to face as the man mountain I'd jumped on with gay abandon proceeded to give me a severe pasting, or two!
But in truth it is not the 'amauter light weight boxing' that took place on alcohol fueled nights out that will probably catch up with my already knackered body in the years to come but more than likely it will be the rash of road accidents that yours truly was involved in. Myself and also my brother had a reckless approach, to say the least, when it came to driving and it's a miracle that either of us are alive today to recount the tales of holed hedges and bloody trudges home to face yet another inquest by 'Ol' stringvest' after the latest encounter with unplanned 'off roading'! On reflection the one I probably was most luckiest to
At the time I drove a silver Vauxhall Viva HC, considered by some misguided folk as the poor man's Ford Escort but I always felt that the Viva was a far superior car and if I'm ever fortunate enough to own one again as a Summer cruiser I'll jump at the chance. I swear (yes I know, all to frequently) that this modest little car just purred along and even back then the Viva was becoming a rarer sight as more modern cars were becoming available to the young men of the day. Anyways, I was heading to work in the steady flow of morning traffic approaching a recently revamped junction on the new Penyffordd bypass when up ahead I espyed a parked up New Ford Escort turbo...a distinctive car known to most whom I worked with as it was owned by a
Into my path a cyclist had appeared, head down, pedaling furiously away towards me a good fifteen yards on the chevrons before he hits the short slip road to turn off at the junction, illegal arsehole two I believe though at the time this thought did not pass through my startled mind it was more akin to arrgghhhhhhh!!!! I seem to recall. The only option left to me was to pull the wheel hard to the right trying to take me around the now very startled and open mouthed cyclist who'd pulled right across to my left in a vain effort to cross the road ahead of oncoming traffic, namely a silver Viva driven by me, arse! Now the poor old Viva was most definitely not a car noted for its road holding qualities especially on the then legal remould tyres of the day and due to the savage jerk upon its steering wheel the little tyke decided to slide its rear end out, you know if it had just followed my chosen direction all would have been good, and I heard the faint 'chink' of rear wing upon cycle, oops. So instead of trying trying to wrestle the car back into line I swung my head rearwards trying to spot the cyclist with attention being roughly brought back forward to the unnerving smack as the Viva clattered the far raised kerb and bounced me back into the oncoming lane just in time to see the venerable Foden logo of great British wagon building fill my vision.....bollocks!
The next thing that I recall is reaching out and burning my hand upon the engine block of my beloved Viva, no I hadn't lifted the bonnet to check the oil, the engine block was happily sitting next to me where the passenger seat used to be, there was to be no quick getaway from this one I mused. An odd thought you may ask when I'm pleading innocence in this incident but the truth is I'd written several cars off before this happened all down to my fault so running from accidents had become a little bit of a habit at the time. A group of concerned folk had gathered around and helped me out of the mangled wreckage, thinking more clearly now I headed towards where an even larger group of people had gathered around a rather prone cyclist. Have to admit that my legs then failed me and I slumped onto the grass verge awaiting an ambulance and the inevitable sirens of police cars.
The first ambulance whisked the cyclist away which was fair enough then the second to arrive took the bloody wagon driver away as he was already complaining of neck pains! Neck bloody pains? It took his unladen wagon more distance to come to a halt than an fully laden ocean going tanker would need, his bloody skid marks didn't start until twenty yards after the point of impact and he's already trying to lay the groundwork for his insurance claim? Bastard. So I finally get my lift to the hospital in the ambulance and the questions about what hurts are fired at me. Well for a start my left foot feels like it's on fire with shooting pains lancing up my leg to my groin and I've got a headache too, bless. After cutting my trainer off the medic informed me that two of my toes were badly dislocated and also a rib had popped out, not too bad then me thinks. At this point my headache was really becoming annoying and seemed concentrated above my right eye so I did what came naturally and poked it with my finger. The medic's face changed from apathy to perhaps mild concern at this moment as he gently pulled my hand and its pokey finger away being as my finger had gone in a good half an inch farther than what a normal skull should allow, " guess you may have fractured your skull young man", well thank you Einstein.
So finally arriving at the hospital the ambulances' medic's diagnoses are confirmed by doctors and the like. Cheerfully I'm told that my head will just have to heal on its own (still got a slight dent), the popped rib? well we could bind it but it'll not make much difference so we won't bother (still raised), but the toes that are pointing over ninety degrees to wrong way we can fix them but by Christ it's going hurt, great. I find myself now stretched out in a hospital gown, very fetching, whilst the Paki doc attempts to examine and then rectify my by now screaming in searing agony toes.
Whoaa, stop the press, did John just use the word 'Paki' then, is John some kind of racist zealot determined to stamp out all lesser beings.....err no. But I do admit using the word 'Paki' to describe the very nice doctor as much as I would use the word Aussie for an Australian, Brit for a British person, Yank for our American cousins, Paddy or Mic for an Irishman, Lass for an attractive woman, Scot for a Scottish man, idiot for a football fan, Taffy for a fellow Welshman (or sheep shagger upon occasion) and so forth. It's not racist it is my vocabulary and being the man I am I'll not be changing it to suit some peoples idea of political correctness, nor will I apologies for the use of such words because I do not use them as derogatory nor to insult, they are descriptive tools that my already meagre grasp of the English language that I require to describe things. Yes I could have just said doctor but by saying Paki the picture is completer, rightly or wrongly. Oh and one other thing why do so many people deride colored folk without even knowing them personally and then spend thousands of pounds to sit under a hot foreign sun to get a tan so making their skin darker? beats me.
So the very nice
I come to in the ward as the surrounding privacy curtains are pulled aside feeling slightly spaced out to say the least. The nurses do their final checks and leave me be to recover. Left to my own devices now I glance over to the bed upon my right hand side to be greeted by the sight of a middle aged man whose face is heavily bandaged, almost like it had come into contact with a hard surface at speed.... taking no notice of a little warning voice I asked him what had happened? He managed to mumble something about being knocked off his bike this morning, " was it a silver car by any chance I asked innocently?", to which he barely managed to nod his head....warning voice John, warning voice getting louder..." it was me" I cheerfully informed him, and that's when the trouble started........
Five months down the line and in spite of a bundle of evidence to the contrary the whole sorry episode was deemed by the laziest of police work and a courtroom that was probably late for lunch to be entirely my fault and I ended up with a bloody ridiculous fine and a six month ban from driving being as this latest escapaide took my points well over the limit. Had to laugh though, my father accompanied me to the courts and all morning whilst we awaited my turn kept drilling into me the need for respect, to speak clearly and to stick to the truth. Damn thing as the penalties were being read out, head now bowed, all I could hear was my father's booming voice from the rear of the courtroom "call this effing justice you corrupt bastards" and that was the nicest thing he had to say. Needless to say he was eventually escorted out and ended up with his own fine, served him right for his snippet of wisdom regards hitting the biggest bugger first, could've told me that running away like a big girls blouse was another option couldn't he?
Not really sure of the point of this tale, though I hope you enjoyed it if you got this far.