On my way home last night- rather late and, indeed, somewhat tired and emotional- I got off the night bus at Harrow-on-the-Hill bus station and walked towards my house, past the Job Centre.
This is what I usually do. This time, unusually, there were three young men waiting for me. They stepped out from some shadows. I stopped walking, and they stood about two metres away from me. They were about fifteen years old and not at all heavily built, white, with short hair. One of them- the one I remember, was wearing a black nylon- that kind of shiny nylon- jacket with the number ’38′ above the breast pocket.
It was from this jacket pocket that he produced the world’s smallest knife.
“Gimme your bag now!”
I stood there for a minute, sizing up the situation, and said “Can’t you find someone else to threaten?”
I just stood there for a minute or so. While I was definitely bigger and probably stronger than any of them individually, I don’t really fancy my chances with all three at once, and after all, it may have been a tiny knife but it could still pierce vitals.
In these situations, ran the advice my self defence trainer gave me, it is important to stay calm, authoritative, and give the impression that you are in charge of the situation and not at all intimidated. I was, to be sure, several sheets to the wind, and I was pretty sure they had to know that. I wouldn’t really stand a chance in a fight. So by projecting the impression that I was desperately uninterested in fighting them had to be my best option.
Also, delaying things so that their flush of adrenaline-courage could dissipate and the shakes set in had to be a good idea.
After I’d stood there for a clear minute, relaxed, hands at my sides, staring at Lead Kiddie, he panicked and legged it for the bus station. His mates followed.
So I was only sort-of mugged.