Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - The Hooligan Nights, by Clarence Rook, 1899 - Chapter 16 - A Bit of an Argument

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16

A Bit of an Argument

     Young Alf is not, as you will have gathered, a man of peace. He has fought his fellows again and again, with varying success. But there is more than one kind of fighting. You may fight under Queensberry rules, and I have seen young Alf so trammelled, as I shall shortly recount. You may, on the other hand, fight without any rules at all, with the sole object of rendering your opponent incapable of any further action in the itnmediate future. I have seen young Alf fighting in that way too, and shall not speedily forget it.
     But the fight on Barnes Common was, as I understand, just a fair set to with the raws. I did not have the satisfaction of witnessing it. But young Alf related to me the story of the encounter with such evident satisfaction, and such obvious pride in the result, that I think you must hear it as it came from his own lips.
     'Toughest fight I ever 'ad in me life,' said young Alf, 'was one Sunnay morning over Barnes Common wiv a dam big lab'rin' chap. I adn't no idea of gettin' to close quarters wiv 'im, not when I see 'im in at the "Lamb an' Flag," cause I 'adn't 'ardly ever sin 'im afore. On'y we was all talkin' togevver in the bar an' we got into a bit of a argyment over runnin'. See? Well, you know I can do a bit in the runnin' line, else why do my pals call me "The Deer", eh? An' so it warn't more'n you'd expect that I'd get my monkey up when the lab'rer began makin' sneerin' remarks, an' makin' out 'e didn't fink I could run like what I said I could. So one fing led to anuvver, an' fore long the lab'rer sung out that 'e fort 'e could do anyflnk that I could.
     ' "In fightin'?" I says.
     ' "I said anyfink, didn't I?" 'e says. "An' what I says I mean." That's how 'e give it back to me.
     ' "An' when? I says.
     ' "When you like an' for what you like, so long as it ain't over a crown." That was the lab'rer's conditions, you unnerstand.
     'Wiv that there was a lot of talk 'bout where we should scrap, but 'fore we left the pub it was 'greed we should meet for a go to a finish on Barnes Common at seven o'clock on the next Sunday morning, promisin' that on'y our own partic'ler pals on each side should be let into the know.
     'Well, Sunnay mornin' come, an' there was me a bit before me time at the place on Barnes Common that we'd 'greed upon. The lab'rer come punkshal too, an' there was about a dozen or more pals come down to see the scrap. Soon as the lab'rer began peelin' I see quite plain that I was givin' away a lump in weight. On'y don't you fink I funked the job, cause I didn't. See?
     'I'd settled in me mind that I'd go a bit light for the first two or free rounds so's I could see what the lab'rer was made of wivout gettin' winded meself. But I soon found I'd got me work cut out if I wanted to stan' up gainst him for long. I was quicker'n what 'e was, but I was givin' 'im two stone an' more. After the first round it didn't look over an' above rosy for your 'umble. Still, there wasn't nuffink broken, nor yet in the second round neiver.
     'We 'adn't 'ardly got into the third round 'fore I see I'd got a reg'lar sneezer to 'andle. An' 'bout 'arf way froo I got a flattener on me razzo that pretty nigh laid me out, an' 'fore I knew anyfink more my right eye went in for early  closin'. 'Ealfy, wasn't it? Much as I could do to keep stannin' up, that round.
     'Well, I settled in me mind that round four was to be my look in if I wasn't to go under, so I went for the lab'rer wiv all me bloody might, an' got in free hot 'uns on 'is ribs that fair made 'is timbers crack, an' 'fore the round was finished I'd landed a couple of stingers on 'is dial that seprised 'im proper.
     'The fifth round was 'ammer an' tongs again, an' the lab'rer got one of my teef to give notice, but I got one back on 'is jore, an' there was the lab'rer comin' at me wiv 'is tongue angin' right out of 'is mouf. Well, I see me chance then, an' I give 'im a upper cut that made 'im fair bite into 'is tongue an' go down full length on the grass. The next round was the last, an' a little 'oliday for me it was, wiv no error. 'e couldn't 'ardly put up 'is dukes be that time, an' I knocked 'im out first time I smacked 'im.
     'I've 'ad a good many scraps in me time, nor it wouldn't seprise me if I was to have some more. But I don't never expect to 'ave a tougher fight than I 'ad that mornin' on Barnes Common. It was 'ard sloggin' all froo; an' if I didn't fair earn me five bob that mornin', - well, I never earned five bob in all me life. Don't you fink so?'