I have just been assaulted in the street by a stranger!I was just merrily cycling back from the bike shop, returning their spoke key (a big, spammy thank you to my Local independent bike shop) and I cut through Princesshay, which used to be a road but is now somewhat pedestrianised looking, although I know not the legalities of it.
Either way, I left the pedestrianised (?) bit and ventured out onto the road and a man stepped in front of me and took a stance as if to stop me in my tracks. I swerved to avoid him, but as I went past, he punched me, nearly knocking me from the bike. I stopped, by which point he was upon me, shouting in my face and he looped the handle of his laptop bag around my leg as I unclipped, so I couldn't get away.
The chap is about 55, but a young 55, with mirror glasses on and too many newspapers under his arm. Certainly he was a lot smaller than I was, but he was looking for a fight and, indeed, several times asked the question 'So you want a fight then?'. I did not, although I certainly had age, size and probably technique on my side. He is leaning over my bike shouting at me now. "You want to argue about this, you got a problem?" I intimated that yes, I did indeed have a problem, that being the fact that a stranger had just punched me in passing. "You're cycling on the pavement!" Well, this was clearly not true, I was standing still in the middle of the road, but this was not a moment for pedantry. I stopped a couple of the builders working on the road and asked them what they were building. It transpired that what they were building was, in fact, a road. Further protestations by my attacker did not lead to a change of heart on their part, "No mate, it's a road, right up to those bollards" they insisted, indicating the bollards in question with a vague mono-directional gesture. Clearly my assailant had studied his debating technique on the banks of the Cam. Certainly he was ready with an answer, "So you want to fight do you?".
I am a fairly arsey chap myself at times and could well imagine myself standing in the way of a cyclist on the pavement (although I'd never go as far as to hit him or her, rather just allow them to hit me, I can see where he was coming from) and he clearly had been under the misapprehension that the road upon which my tyres rested was a pavement, although I cannot for an instant imagine why.
'Where do you live?' he asks. I feel that this is the sort of information I keep to myself when confronted by idiots of this magnitude, and I described my reticence in sharing this sort of personal detail with him. 'Where do you work then?' he continued. Since we were outside my office buildings I felt comfortable pointing to the wall behind him and merely uttering 'There'.
"Then you know this is pedestrian". The unutterable stupidity of this line of questioning was boring me by now and I finally became less calm in my approach.
'Look', says I, 'I was riding on the road and you hit me. There's no middle ground here, we've ascertained that it is a road and you hit me. That's it.'
"So you want to fight?" I should really have seen it coming.
"No, sod it, let's just call a copper and sort this out" I said and promptly found that my telephone was on my desk.
"Yes, let's do that" says he, so I ask if I can borrow his telephone to do so. He changes his mind and, when I ask around, nobody seems willing to allow me to use their telephone to call a policeman, not even the fat security guard from the new shops they are building.
Mirror-shades seems to sense now that I mean this and asks, chuckling derisively as he does so, what exactly I think that a policeman will do. I answer to the effect that they will process my charge of assault and he begins legging it. Away from a man my size with a bike. After a little bit of this he stops and realises that he cannot get away and asks me, unexpectedly, if I'd like a coffee at the shop on the corner (It's not Starbucks, but it's similar. [EDIT: Having asked around the office, it transpires that it is a Costa - look at the header image on that site - surely they could have optimised that better and got an image without the surly woman or the fire extinguisher?]. I am a little taken aback and say that , whilst I don't drink coffee, I'll certainly let him buy me a tea (thinking that this would frankly do, by way of recompense, since I didn't really want to care, I was merely not backing down at this point and I wanted to be sure that he went away feeling that it was wrong to punch cyclists, rather than with a great story for his mates) and that we could discuss things like men.
"You're not a man, you're a mouse, why should I buy you tea, why shouldn't you buy me a coffee?" he asks. I am ready with a reply which went along the lines of not having any idea what he was going on about, that he had hit me and if he wanted to discuss things then that was fine, but otherwise I was fairly intent on approaching the squad car outside the Vodaphone shop and getting back to work. Again I was taken aback as he agreed.
Our anti-hero is beginning to sound like a bit of a moron here, but I should stress that this man is well dressed, smart and appears to, whilst I cannot believe he actually reads them, carrying some serious broadsheets with him. I have not picked a fight with a tramp here. I say this because, once he realises that I am not about to go in before him and let him do a runner again he seems genuinely upset that his ruse didn't work and returns to the 'I haven't got time for this' scarpering routine.
I point out how close the policeman is now and, after some shepherding with my bike (including a comical moment when he runs into it and says 'now you've assaulted me!') resort to saying that if he doesn't come along I'll make a citizen's arrest. "go on then!" says he.
"As a member of her Majesty's armed forces, I arrest you."
It felt kind of funny without a rifle, but by God did it have an effect. Turns out that our man is an ex-servicemen and feels that this makes it okay to hit me again. We argue for about 5 minutes now, including his "It didn't hurt, when I hurt people they stay on the ground". I must say I was rather pleased with my
"Well, I can assure you that I can hurt you a great deal without you even falling over."
Eventually he starts vaguely pleading for a way out of this, but is unwilling to back down as well. Eventually he puts forward the plan that he will apologise, which I accept.
He then adds the caveat that I have to reciprocally apologise for cycling on the pavement.
I explain my position, to whit: I am happy to admit that I was cycling on what he perceives to be the pavement prior to his assault on my person (at this point he interjects to point out that there is no bruise and it didn't hurt anyway, to which I reply that whether is hurt or not was for me to say and that he could rest assured that, when it came to talking to the plod about it, I would be certain to mention the pain) and, indeed, I'd go as far as to say that I wouldn't ride on there until I had ascertained whether it was legal or not so to do, his vigilante assault on me for a perceived crime he had witnessed was not socially acceptable.
We had much discussion on the matter, but essentially I was in a better position as I had the copper in my hand and, thanks presumably to the time it takes to renew a Vodafone contract, even if one gets preferential treatment as an agent of the law, he appeared not to be going anywhere. One of the treats of this stage of the conversation was 'If you hit a pedestrian on a bike you could really hurt them'. Sadly
'When you punch a cyclist on a fast moving bike you could really hurt them' was a retort he was unable to counter.
Eventually I got a full apology, an assurance that he would not do such a thing again and a hand shake, after which he whipped away into the alley behind Waggamammas (who don't get a link as they are crap - Tye Pye Dong is far superior, but their website is awful. As he was leaving I swung my leg onto the bike, realised that I had just agreed not to cycle through the square and got back off, laughing loudly, presumably fuelled with the joy of victory. At this the chap poked his head back 'round the corner and said 'force of habit, see!' and legged it.
I am appalled to say that I quite liked the fool, but I was buggered if I was going to be punched riding my bike down the road.
Clearly this excitement doesn't mean that I can ignore the other news, which is that i weigh 193.6lbs.
I am having a poo
I weigh 190.2lbs. Damn, maybe if I had fought I'd have worked of that last fifth of a lb, eh?
Ah well, off to equanimityRus I go.