Alan Mills – Keep Calm and…

We were nearing the end of our time in Palestine and once again I was on circle number one beat – the Arab Quarter – which was generally considered to be the roughest beat in Haifa. I questioned why I always got this beat and the answer was ‘It’s not a punishment. Have you ever thought you might be doing something right?’ I guessed there was a back handed compliment in there somewhere.

The buzz word everywhere was partition. The end of the mandate was approaching and the talk was Palestine was to be partitioned with a new Jewish country formed which was to go by the name of Israel. As this wasn’t exactly in the Arab’s best interests, the atmosphere had become very tense. I wasn’t really looking forward to Circle one again and I’d mused over it the night before as I prepared my kit for the following day.

In training we had all been given two pairs of boots, one lightweight and one typical army heavy issue. The light ones were nicknamed ‘brothel creepers,’ so called as they were so light we were able to sneak about on night duty without been heard but they were also much more comfortable and were the boot of choice for most of us. I decided to get mine resoled as I wanted to take them home with me when we were demobbed. We had the use of an Arab cobbler and I decided to take them in before my shift began the next day.

alanmillskeepcalm

So, I took my boots in and began my beat and it was soon obvious to me something was not right right within the Suq, it wasn’t just tension, it was strange. I saw an English women shopping there, most unusual, something I’d never seen before in my two years out there. I checked she was okay but she was totally at ease in the area, spoke good Arabic and had lived there for a few years as part of a mission. I bid her goodbye and walked round to the main market square. Again, everything seemed really quite, there wasn’t the hustle and bustle you normally associate with a busy market square.

 

I asked one of the traders what was behind the strange atmosphere, he didn’t say anything, he just pointed towards a giant black man on the other side of the square. He was a Berber, a black North African tribe who were quite common in the area and generally made there living selling peanuts. They generally operated without a licence and were disliked by the regular market stall owners, I have never seen such a giant of a man, he must have been seven feet in height and broad with it and it was obvious he was high on drugs or drunk as he gestured and generally abused everyone around him.

I walked towards him, I could feel the eyes of the market place on me, as if to say what’s the Inglizie going to do about this one. I stopped a safe distance from him and started to ask him who he was and what he was doing. He stared at me vacantly for a second before suddenly lunging, almost like a lion at me, in a haze of mad eyes and snot and spit coming from his nose and mouth. I took one step back and my training took over, training honed on the streets of Leeds, not at the training college. Basically, I kicked him with all the force I could muster right between the legs with my regulation heavy army steel toe capped boots. I heard a sickening crunch before he collapsed in a ball at my feet to cheers and applause from all round the market.

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I thought after how fate had again intervened, normally I would have worn the lighter boots and of all the days I could have chosen, I chose that day to have them resoled and wear the thuggery boots, I often wonder if I would have been around to tell the tale if I’d had the brothel creepers on.

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