Alan Mills – Conscription – Winter Blues

October generally saw is change from our lighter khaki summer uniform to the heavier winter blue uniform, which also looked much more formal. The standard joke was if you ended up in a bar brawl, to ask them if they could hold on a minute while you took your jacket off.

As it happened, on our very first day in winter uniform, I did end up in a brawl. I’d been instructed to cover the Jaffa Road circle and before we went out on duty, the Sergeant had pulled me to one side and told me to have a look at a cafe owned by an Egyptian as we had received a lot of complaints in the past regarding tables from the cafe spilling onto the pavement.

The latest complaint was from a solicitor regarding a lady with a pram who had been forced out onto the road and was almost run over by a bus which was pulling out of the nearby bus stop. The cafe’s owner was well known to us and he had a reputation for been a bit stroppy. He’s been warned countless times about the overspill but seemed to think he was above the law.I-Arab-quarter-Haifa

I approached him and he more or less just laughed in my face, which got my back up. “Okay, if you won’t move them, I will.” and I started throwing the chairs through the open cafe door, which obviously upped the argument a bit. He came at me aggressively but I was ready for him and as I reached for my handcuffs, I felt a thud on the back of my head and saw stars. Someone had whacked me with a heavy bar stool, not the ‘Hollywood made to break’ kind either. I staggered out of the cafe, onto the street, still holding the Egyptian, I wasn’t going to let him go after all this but I was having trouble seeing, the blood was pouring from my head into my eyes and dripping off my nose. A couple of British soldiers walked by. “Are you alright mate?” one of them shouted. “Do I look like I’m alright?” They just walked on by, thanks, I thought as I continued to grapple with the Egyptian.

Eventually I commandeered a taxi to take him back to the station and formally charge him, this was quite a common practise at the time, although I’m not sure how pleased the driver was about my blood spurting all over the place. Eventually I got him back to the station, where he was processed and I was then told to go to the government hospital to get checked out, I received eight stitches once they stopped the flow although I was grateful I wasn’t concussed.

I didn’t go back on Jaffa Road for a few weeks after that but when I did I suppose it was a job well done as there were no tables etc on the pavement, although this might have been due to the weather becoming colder. I’d taken my blue jacket to the cleaners, where it was soaked for a week in cold water  to try and get the blood out. The stains did go although it never quite fit the same after, I should have asked if I could have taken it off before the brawl began.

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  1. Another good one.

  2. Barry O'Hare says:

    Great article.

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