A couple of weeks ago I was walking alone around Willen Lake, which is a lovely big lake in Milton Keynes famed for it’s wakeboarding circuit and abundance of swans and geese and other wildlife. The weather was sweltering, and I was looking for a patch of lakeside grass to plonk myself on for an hour or two where I could enjoy the cool breeze off the water, whilst flicking through a knitting mag and listening to some rousing oompah music on my Spotify.
As I neared the kid’s aerial assault course, with the little choo-choo train track that runs alongside it, I spotted someone in the distance. Someone whose face I haven’t seen for probably ten years, and who was sat there on the grass, inexplicably 150 miles away from home – as if they’d upped sticks and followed me all the way from my old life in Huddersfield, to my new life in Milton Keynes.
I stopped dead, my mouth hanging open, and just stared. It was Punchy Cunt (not his real name, surprisingly). Why was he here!? What business did he have invading my safe new city? Safe from people exactly like him. Safe from flying fists and nasty threats. Safe from getting twatted in the face and thrown in front of a moving bus.
This shit wasn’t good. This shit was UN-GOOD (sometimes known as bad)!
Allow me to rewind a bit for you…
In the late nineties, probably around 1998 when I was about eighteen, I got punched hard in the face, twice, whilst standing outside a restaurant in Huddersfield with my then-girlfriend. The assailant was a lad I recognised but didn’t really know, and the punches broke my nose and fractured my cheekbone – the impact spattering my girlfriend with my blood, and causing a gushing torrent of the red stuff to exit my nose and ruin my favourite Biohazard hoodie.
Over the coming days, as my black eyes truly settled in, making me look like a panda, it transpired that the lad was now dating my ex. She was pissed that I’d ditched her, started dating the most unstable psychopath she could find, then spun him a load of lies about me and set him off after me like a rottweiler on the prowl. There was also a completely separate gang of lads after me for the same reason. And the worst thing was that all of these manhunters believed they had good reason to smash me up, having being led down the garden path by a woman scorned. Oh shit.
The coming months and years saw me in all manner of unwholesome predicaments, including one particular event which stands out in my mind, where I got on a bus only to find Punchy sat there looking at me. He was a big guy, especially compared to me, with a huge chain hanging from his jeans which he wrapped slowly around his knuckles as he made his way down the bus and sat next to me, squashing me up against the window and staring hatefully at me for the entire thirty minute journey. On arrival at Huddersfield bus station (which is like a large, more intimidating version of Mos Eisley Cantina – for all you Star Wars fans) I was frog-marched off the bus, slammed into a wall, threatened with all kinds of special things, and then wazzed down into the road, causing a bus to make an emergency stop as I scrambled to my feet, grabbed my bag of books, and sprinted off through the crowds.
The whole thing was starting to wear me down. The new girlfriend had long gone, my friends had started to trickle away, and I was afraid to visit my favourite rock-bar hangouts for fear of getting another pasting. I don’t think it would surprise anybody that I started to take solace in movies, computer games, and music – all held together by a thick wodge of lovely BOOZE. Strongbow 2ltr was my new best friend, and we spent every night hanging out together, spangled.
As an aside: I was working a shift one night in a local pub, and two of the ‘gang’ that were sent after me, and had managed to catch up with me a couple of times (ow!), walked in. They ordered two pints of lager, seemingly not recognising me, and I decided to use the pump in the other bar to afford me some private time to gob in their pints. Upon returning and presenting the lads with their tainted drinks, the penny dropped as to my identity. Both lads apologised profusely for the shit they had forced me to endure (which was amateur at best, compared to Punchy Cunt), and they shook my hand as they explained how the wool had been pulled over their eyes.
“No problem lads!” I told them. “Sit down end enjoy your drinks.”
MWAAA HAA HAAAAAA (please read this out as an evil laugh okay).
So anyway, back to the Punchy Cunt issue…
Huddersfield is a small place, and the whole thing came to a head after me and Punchy were invited to the same house party. My heart sank when he approached me, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tense up, ready to take a beaut in the eye socket or whatever, but as it happened he just wanted to talk. He wanted to tell me that it was over, and in all honesty I felt like I wanted to marry the bastard on the spot. Isn’t it weird how that works eh? He’s a volatile guy though, so I don’t think we were quite ready to be bezzies.
Two years of living in fear may have suddenly come to an end, but the drinking certainly didn’t. That stayed around for another fifteen years.
In hindsight I was a wimp. He was a big guy, but I had the truth on my side! I allowed myself to be victimised for something that I hadn’t done! It seems crazy when I look back at how weak I was. I just wrapped myself up in booze, and hid away as best I could, taking the punishments whenever they arrived. What a sad act, eh?
I know for a FACT that I’d handle this sort of issue a million times better these days, in my acute soberness. My outlook has changed, my confidence is up, and I may not be a tough guy by any means – but the thought of being pushed around is totally alien to me. I’d stand firm, refuse to be chased down, involve the police if I have to. My days of shrinking away ended when I took my last drink back in September 2015.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When you quit drinking, fear just… vanishes. It’s like a fog lifting.
In my ‘Happy New Year’ blog post How To Punch 2018 In The Face back in December, I banged on a bit about my fear of heights. More specifically, about how that fear has almost evaporated after getting sober, despite years and years of being scared of plane journeys and high balconies. In a nutshell: I got sober, I started regular rock climbing (which I’ve blogged about here and here), and then the worry just kind of fucked off. It spread it’s wings and flapped off into the night sky like a giant flying bucket of yellowy vom.
Not one to just be happy with that, I decided to see how far I could push the height thing. I put my name down for a 400ft abseil which is planned for later this year, as well as booking a helicopter flight for our wedding anniversary trip to New York which is coming up in October.
In the meantime I had a week away in Macedonia to look forward to, and on that holiday I decided, along with the wife, to undertake a spontaneous and highly scientific experiment in height-phobia. We drove for an hour up a 2000m mountain, and paraglided off the top strapped to a couple of old foreign blokes.
Shit was easy bro. It was even FUN! I’d have never dared do anything like this back when I was fat, drunk Jon. It appears I’ve gained a superpower which allows me to disconnect my mind from my body when faced with doing something scary.
Another example of SOBRIETY beating FEAR was my recent ‘royal wedding vasectomy’. You can read all about that one here.
And so, to return to the start of today’s wanky blog…
There I was stood by Willen Lake, mouth agog, staring at Punchy Cunt who was sat enjoying the sun here in Milton Keynes, 150 miles away from the northern town in which he spent two years terrorising me in the late nineties.
“Fuck it!” I told myself. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. Go over there and unload those years of fear onto the bastard…”
And I started walking, directly towards where he was sat, fists clenched and ready to unleash. My mind was racing, and I started to pull together a mental inventory of all the things I needed to say. Through gritted teeth, I was ready to take a chunk out of this dude.
And do you know what I said to that fucker?
Nothing, actually. It wasn’t him at all. It was just a bit of dogshit with a Twix wrapper stuck to it.
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