Monday, March 29, 2010

Be careful who you pick on

I've just been reading Boris Johnson's tale of littering over on The Telegraph.

It's an anecdote which manages to be amusing and worrying at the same time. Amusing because it reminds me of something that happened to me many years ago and worrying because it highlights the attitude of many young people - their contempt for law and authority, their propensity to lie freely when law and authority catch up with them and their worship of celebrity.

It's all very well for mayor Boris to confront these people - it's not so easy for the rest of us. Johnson got away with this because of who he is but, as many have found out, when the average Joe Public does the same thing the response is often to have their head kicked in.

Anyway, back to the anecdote. It reminded me of a time back in the eighties when I was working as a van courier. On this occasion I had the company of a colleague called Brendan - a remarkably phlegmatic and even tempered chap from the Black Country who was happier on a motorcycle than in a "tin box".

We were making our way one summers day along the outside lane of Marylebone Road in my Ford Escort van when we came to one of the many sets of lights on red. While we waited for the lights to turn green a BMW 3 series pulled up on our left with four yuppies braying and whooping inside.

As the lights turned green the BMW sped off, but not before one of the yuppies had launched a half eaten apple through the open window of our van barely missing Brendan. He wasn't too pleased at their behaviour.

Of course, they were stopped at the next set of lights and we soon drew back alongside. Brendan, in his broad midlands accent, asked what they thought they were doing - in a pleasant way. Far from being apologetic they seemed to find the situation and his accent terribly funny.

The lights started to turn green again and, as they were about to speed off once more, Brendan took a last draw on his cigarette and then launched it through the open window of the BMW with a deft flick of some considerable power. I saw it explode with a shower of sparks on the dashboard of the BMW and spew a myriad of hot coals all over the interior of the car.

As we drove off we could see them stuck at the lights frantically trying to extinguish the various embers burning into the cloth of the front seats - and probably their clothing too - while the cars behind hooted impatiently. Brendan coolly finished off the apple and the BMW never caught up with us again.

I'm not sure if that tale has a moral - except maybe that if you're going to annoy somebody then it's best not to pick someone who happens to be a member of a Hell's Angel chapter.

No comments: