It Happened One Night

Although I regularly hike through forests and up and down mountains, the better to stay in shape and thereby delay Crossing Over to the last possible moment, I also do other things to delay The Crossing, like boxing.

This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, for, here on the Pacific Rain Coast, there are almost no men for me to box because they would rather play ice-hockey than box. However, they do like to fight, but only with bare hands, often in bars, or while playing ice-hockey. I, on the other hand, like to fight only with boxing gloves, and under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

So, instead of landing my boxing glove clad fists on other men’s heads, I land them on a heavy punching-bag and a speed-bag, that I’ve hung in my back garden where no other men can see. They mustn’t, else they’d talk, and the police would hear, and would come looking. I just can’t have this.

I also skip rope, lift weights, do pull ups on a tree branch, do squats and stomach crunches, and other things of this ilk. I shadow-box too. But, throwing fists in thin air is no substitute for landing them on men’s heads. To throw a left hook that lands on the point of a man’s jaw – so he drops as limply as an anti-Hitlerite at the end of piano-wire – is to experience an experience like no other.

Why the lure of boxing for me, and for all true men? It’s that we men have always fought each other, right from when we emerged from our caves in Paleolithic times. We’ve always done it. It’s in our blood.

There are, of course, other forms of fighting, but boxing is the most gentlemanly. So I regret that it seems now to be dying. No doubt those effete doctors have convinced you all, that being punched on your head isn’t good for your brain. I know this to be rubbish because there’s nothing wrong with my brain, despite my head being punched regularly throughout the 100 years since I began boxing as a boy.

That my brain still works well, is because my head has been punched so many times. Each time my brain ricocheted against the wall of my skull, it was developing new protective tissue. Hence it’s now about the toughest brain inside the head of any living man.

Had I not decided to enter the army full-time I would have entered the ring full-time. Consequently I may well have become a world champion, and I would today be as much a household name as any of the great boxing champions.

This is no idle boast, for I was always thought very good as a boxer, even though a mere amateur. In 1946, when old even for an amateur (I was 51), I won the middleweight championship of the British Army.

I remember the fight as if yesterday. It was at the Royal Albert Hall in London on a humid July night. My opponent, a 21-year-old corporal, Angus “Slugger” McGee, was as tough a man as you’ll ever meet, and totally unawed that he was to fight a general. He had won by knock-out all his bouts leading to this one. I, on the other hand, had eked out only close decisions, for, because I was relatively so old, my timing wasn’t what it once was. Slugger was therefore favoured by most as the bell clanged for the first round.

I’ll not go into the minutiae of the fight, except to say that I fought it with the objective not to be knocked out, and to win only by decision. I was confident that the judges, being not only army men, but officers, would see it in their interest to award their decision to me as a general, rather than to a corporal, should the fight be close. It was, actually, and the judges did the right thing.

I could see in Slugger’s face that he was angry. However he congratulated me, and bared his teeth that I took as a smile, after the referee raised my hand. I later let it be known to my fellow generals that I hoped Slugger’s magnanimity in defeat would be acknowledged. I heard, but only many years after, that he had been almost immediately promoted to sergeant, and rose to be a regimental sergeant-major.

Slugger, do you still live or have you Crossed Over? If the latter, I do hope I’ll see you there, and we can fight again if you wish.

Man On the Run

It’s difficult to believe it’s over a year – March of 2007 in fact – since I last wrote on this web-log, for it seems just days. This is what happens when you reach my age – 113. But the older I get, the clearer I remember my boyhood and youth in Victorian and Edwardian England. It’s what I did yesterday, or even a few hours ago, that I forget.

Much has transpired since last I posted, for I’ve had to live in a manner I never thought possible. The fact is, I’m on the run from the police in the United States of America of all places. The reasons would take too long to explain in just one web-log posting, so over my next few postings I’ll perhaps reveal more.

I’ll simply say for now that it’s not easy being on the run from the police, particularly since I’m an old man of 113. Were I a young whipper-snapper of 75, I’d find it much easier. But at 113 it’s more difficult, if only because one needs to keep one’s body in fine shape when one is constantly having to evade the police, and a 113 year old body does creak so. However, I still work out in the gym, but only every second day, for my body needs 48 hours to recover. Boxing exercises are what I like, for I was once middleweight boxing champion of the British Army. This was in 1946, just after World War 2 ended.

But I never lost interest in the Sweet Science, so I’ve continued doing boxing exercises in gyms throughout the years since my last official fight in 1946. You will have deduced that I wasn’t champion for long, given I both won the title and retired in 1946. Why didn’t I continue fighting? you may ask. Well, in 1946 I was 51, and I was having to fight opponents 30 years younger, need I say more? My last opponent was Slugger McGee I still remember. He was a 21 year old corporal in the Irish Guards, over whom I eked out a points decision. I found this humiliating, for I would have whipped McGee to a pulp had I been his age. But Father Time is unforgiving.

I’m still quite impressive in the gym, though. I regularly punch the heavy bags, and skip rope. For sparring sessions, I use my men, Mikey, Squeaky and Freddy, for they, like me, are former British Army men, and learned to box there. They are still pretty good in the ring, for it’s as much as I can do to hold my own against them, since they are all still under forty. I’d like to spar with other men in the gym, for it gets boring always sparring with the same men. But the other men in the gyms I visit don’t seem interested. They do watch me, though, when I spar with Mikey, Squeaky and Freddy. However, this may only be because they don’t often see an old man like me wearing boxing gloves, and hitting the heavy bag and sparring.

Since this web-log is about the books I read and films I see, I wish to confirm that I still read books and watch films, but not as often as before, given my fraught circumstances. It’s just that I’m often not in the mood to read and watch films because my mind is taken up with just surviving. I and my men are having to rob banks and steal food from supermarkets, for to use our credit cards and ATM machines would be to reveal our whereabouts to the police. I have to tell you, who are reading this, that you, as a law-abiding citizen, take so much for granted. Wait till you’re outside the law, and you’ll understand.

Till next time.