from A Squandered Life / Doyle Revolution '65
Was I going to try to kill him...?
In the real world outside the residences, the university was going through it's lugubrious “freshers' week”, another stupid set of conventions adopted, I guess, from stupid American universities whereby first year students or “frosh” were expected to do anything - no matter how stupid or undignified - their elders and betters asked of them. Everybody seemed to think there was a natural order to this, but I'd never heard of it and told a lot of people to fuck off. Nevertheless, resentments were building up and, at the end of “frosh week”, in my first mob bonding experience, I joined with a bunch of other first year students from Doyle and went on a rampage. In groups of fifteen or twenty we went looking for some of the worst perpetrators and dragged them from wherever they were hiding into the nearest showers, disrobing them ungently on route and leaving their clothing strewn about the campus. In true “night of the long knives” fashion, there were skirmishes and incidents throughout both male residences and all areas in between.
On one occasion I found myself chasing “Big Chris” (half again as tall as me) across the lawn in the half light between the dining hall and Doyle with a pack of howling buddies just behind. I caught up with him quite easily and, pulling up to his left side, ran for a couple of strides next to him wondering what to do next. In the end I simply reached across his back, grabbed his right arm and pulled. As his body twisted his own momentum brought him crashing to the ground and he disappeared in a welter of maddened first year bodies. It took a lot of them to do the business on him. He was a big lad.
On another occasion I spotted a particularly odious prick from Rothermere House legging it around the corner of his residence. I shouted to my posse and took off after him. As I rounded the corner I saw him disappear through a window into a laundry room. Without thinking I darted in after him and managed to corner him as he was getting to his feet. For a moment we crouched facing each other in complete silence as it slowly dawned upon both of us that the likelihood of my reinforcements arriving was diminishing with every passing second. They probably hadn't even seen me pop into the window or perhaps got distracted by some other prey. As I was contemplating the implications, the guy suddenly made a dash for the door and, without thinking, I tackled him. He was older and more substantial than me so it was a fairly hopeless undertaking. Nevertheless we continued to wrestle in complete silence and, for me, complete ignorance of any intended outcome. Was I going to try, single-handedly, to undress him and throw him in the shower? Was I going to try to kill him?
It all seemed implausible and pointless in the absence of a baying mob. For a moment we both relaxed our grips on each other as we gasped for breath, and then suddenly he summoned his last remaining resources and made a final desperate lunge for the door. I was too pooped and under-motivated to respond and sat there on the tiled floor waiting for my strength to return. I never ever spoke to or engaged in any way with that guy again, but we would occasionally pass each other in the course of our subsequent university lives, carefully avoiding each other's glances.
Returning to the fray I discovered that it had peaked and that most of the senior guys had disappeared or formed themselves into large enough groups for us to think twice about engaging. It was now the early hours and everybody began to filter off to bed. The uprising dissipated as the uprisers, one by one, went down.
In the bright light of the following day, everybody at Doyle made friends again and the first years revelled in a new level of respect from their seniors. There was a lot of back slapping and laughable recollecting. It was already a fond memory and tales were retold with ever escalating embellishments. I got mentioned in dispatches and commended for “tackling” Big Chris, who turned out to be a very nice and gentle guy and a staunch friend.
© 2013 Deacon Martin