I TOOK DOWN THE SCHOOL BULLY IN 1979

Living in Lindfield, I worry too many people in Hornswood (being the mystical little suburbs snuggled between the bookends of Hornsby and Chatswood) work too hard and don’t have enough… fun.

So just sit back and read this story about my childhood.

All fights at my Northern beaches primary school took place at the “Village Green”. This cliché-named grassy area was surrounded by bush, only a few hundred metres from school and was far from prying teacher and parent eyes.

I was eleven, walking there in a daze with my best mate Pikey and essentially the rest of the school, who all knew to form a big circle.

Biff Gutman (not his real name) was enormous! With shoulders like the Six-Million-Dollar-Man Sasquatch, he took his position as ruthless school bully, very seriously and used to smash guys any chance he got.

And I was fighting him.

And I was terrified.

Earlier that day, Gutman had me in a headlock. My ears burned, neck was stretched painfully and my back screamed. He randomly grabbed any kid in the school he wished (except for Pikey) and this was just my turn.

Pikey was… an animal in a fight! Far from a bully, he was lean and wiry and was the toughest kid in the neighbourhood. I’d seen him ferociously fight three blokes our age once, when they tried to steal our chocolate Paddle Pops, and trade punches with two kids simultaneously from the year above!

Nobody messed with Pikey. While most school fights were mainly wrestling, Pikey was a hitter.

Anyway, Biff was parading me and stopped in front of Melanie Cutest (fake name) the hottest girl in the school and her entourage of good sorts. I had no choice but to lip off, knowing it’d mean Biff would probably keep me headlocked.

Me – “HEY GUTMAN,” making sure I had Melanie’s attention. “YOU STINK LIKE A WET HESSIAN BAG STUFFED WITH FEET JENKINS.”

Paully Jenkins smelled so badly we used to call him “Feet”.

“Feet” Jenkins (standing nearby) – “WHAT?”

Then there was silence.

Nobody ever made fun of Biff Gutman. Nobody. Slowly the girls started to chuckle and before long everybody was laughing at him.

Surprisingly, he let me go. I stood. His massive head was KFC-box red and was en route to exploding.

Biff – “VILLAGE GREEN, AFTER SCHOOL. AAAAARRRGGGHHH.”

I think my heart actually stopped. Everybody cheered. Oh f#ck.

I knew true terror.

I’d seen Biff punch guys in the face until they collapsed and then kick them. He was a brute. Twice my weight, loved hurting and I’d never seen him so enraged! I was going to die that afternoon. A disappointing turn of events.

Feet Jenkins (later on) –“Jaaaase. You’ve got a chance against Biff.”

Me – “Really, Feet?” I looked at him hopefully.

Feet Jenkins – “As much chance as my feet smelling like Pine-O-Clean.”

He laughed and walked off.

I had no choice but to show up. Biff stood in the circle rolling his Sasquatch shoulders and throwing practice Jase-smashing punches. I was skinny (then, now… not so much), I had no chance.

As we approached the already established circle, Pikey was giving me tips about hit first, hit fast but I just couldn’t follow. My mind was a rolling fog of impending death.

Feet Jenkins  – “THE LEMON-LIME PINE-O-CLEAN JASE. THE GOOD STUFF!”

He laughed again.

Pikey – “Jase… you gonna get killed. Gutman’s, Bionic-Man strong.”

Great. My fighting expert gave me no chance.

I couldn’t really hear him or anything else over the din and my fear, anyway. I was near tears and it was all I could do to stop my legs running like Steve Austin.

Pikey – “Want me to take him?”

I heard that!!

Me – “Huh?”

Pikey – “Biff’s been hurtin’ kids for years.”

Me – “Huh?”

On the Northern beaches, you didn’t let anybody else fight for you. It’d make you a coward. A weakling. A chicken. You certainly wouldn’t be able to claim in any way, to be like the Six Million Dollar Man! No Jamie Sommers for you.

But… f#ck that. This was BIFF GUTMAN! My pride would heal a lot faster than a broken face.

Me – “Well (unsure of the etiquette)… would… would that be ok?”

Pikey – “No worries. Hold me bag and me footy cards. There’s pretty much the whole school here so after, we can do some tradin’.” Swapping of Rugby League cards was banned in school ever since Biff had bashed poor Johnny Tinsdale who would not swap his Max Krillich and Graham Eadie cards, for a Terry Randall .

My mood improved markedly.

Biff (holding up his hands in a pre-emptive victory salute) – “GET IN HERE NOW JASE. I’M GONNA SMASH YA F#CKIN’ FACE.” He laughed at his rhyme.

Me (feeling quite chipper) – “Biff! Here’s Pikey… in my stead.” Now that I wasn’t fighting I was using fancy words.

Biff’s face drained of colour. The throng cheered excitedly. They were expecting to see me get beaten senseless, now they were going to see the fight of the century.

Biff immediately resisted and called strongly for the court of public opinion to sway the overwhelming advantage back his way.

Biff – “You, you can’t do that. It’s not… not allowed.”

Pikey – “It’s allowed. You’re not a chicken are you Biffy.”

I won’t go into the violent details. However, they fought, Pike won, Pike won easily. Biff was humbled by about a eight tremendous punches to the face. A popular victory, with everybody present.

Bullying-Biff was lying on his stomach, hands protecting the back of his head, face in the grass, crying with Pike sitting on his back.

Me (leaning over him) – “HAD ENOUGH BIFF?”

Biff (muffled by the grass) – “Yea.”

Me – “EVER GOIN’ TO BULLY AGAIN BIFF?”

Biff – “Na.”

The crowd erupted, cheered, whistled and hugged. All their lives had changed forever.

Me – “Great work Pikey.” We high-fived and I handed back his bag, Bionic Man thermos and footy cards. “NOW WE RULE THE SCHOOL.”

Anybody ELSE messing with me and Pikey?

Pikey – “Nah Jase. Now nobody rules the school.”

Me – “Oh… ok.”

And that, was how I took down the school bully in 1979!

Still to this day I can’t believe we stood up to Biff Gutman… and I won!

 

Thanks for reading. I write blogs. Oftentimes simply to enable me to claim at parties much to my wife’s chagrin, that I am in fact… a writer. At other times, to allow businesses and businesspeople to get their message across.

If you could Share via the buttons below, follow me on Facebook, that would be wonderful. Cheers. Jase. 

AN AMERICAN BOY, DISCOVERING AUSTRALIA

Would you be impressed if I told you I’m successful enough to have recruited a celebrity guest blogger?

Well sorry, all I have is a mate of mine, who goes by the poker call-sign Hammer. He’s certainly no “celebrity”. The term “guest” implies he’s… welcome to come over. And he’s absolutely not a “blogger” by any means.

Living in Lindfield, I worry too many people in Hornswood (being the mystical little suburbs snuggled between the bookends of Hornsby and Chatswood) work too hard and don’t have enough… fun.

So, Hammer is an American now living in Hornswood and he told me what I thought was a very funny story, so I asked him to write it. Here is the result:

 

AN AMERICAN BOY, DISCOVERING AUSTRALIA (guest blog by Hammer)

A number of years ago our family ventured a long move overseas to Australia. As part of our newfound excitement we took to experiencing as much of the local landscape as possible. Travel, food, social culture and much more. During the first year, the youngest of our children embraced many local sports and activities.

He’d always been very quizzical, wanting to learn new things and full of questions. We have always considered him a bit of a Renaissance kid, happy to try just about any activity or new experience. However, when I say he has always been full of questions, this child averages hundreds a day. Every day. Still to this day.

Being from America, there was certainly a learning curve for the young lad and his various undertakings. Learning about rips and ocean safety during Nippers and surfing lessons. The fact that baseball falls a far distant second to cricket in Australia.

Not a baseball bat in sight.

Despite the tribulations, he persisted in his education and most importantly had fun playing with his new friends.

One evening, my wife and I were enjoying a glass of wine after dinner, still at the table. The meal was over, and kids had headed off to homework and other activities. Into the kitchen walks our youngest with his typical youthful exuberance and stands across from the two of us announcing that he had a question to ask.

Thinking nothing out of the ordinary, I respond to the miniature version of my wife and myself, “What can we do for you?”

To the absolute surprise of both me and my wife, the youngster says, “I have been checking out what sort of stuff you can do in Sydney. I do have a question. What is a hooker?”

We have always been open in our household about subjects regarding the human body, relationships and educating oneself about anatomy and other possibly socially sensitive topics. In reality, these typically just fall into the category of ‘we are all just human’. Teaching our children about what their bodies will experience, and that sex is natural (but should be done lovingly and responsibly), has been part of our approach to child rearing.

After a painfully long silence in which our child took turns alternating glances between the two of us, I finally conceded to his mother that she is likely best to address this shocking question. “Why don’t you handle this one, babe?”

As my wife took control of the situation, I was amazed by her ability to explain the ‘world’s oldest profession’ to the child, in terms that would make sense to a young mind, while at the same time shielding the child from some of the harsher realities of prostitution. She navigated the conversation with an expertise that only a woman speaking to her own offspring, could handle. I was amazed at how well my life partner was able to manage the situation into which we were suddenly thrust.

I decided at this point to offer my encouragement, “Do go on, dear.”

After her explanation, the boy was apparently full of many, many more questions than before he started his quest for an answer. He pondered the new information quietly to himself, but was not satisfied that he was wiser from the moments preceding his entrance. He wanted answers and was not getting the correct ones.

He turned to me, his father, his mentor in life for guidance and stated to me questioningly, “I don’t understand?”

Being the source of all knowledge to a young boy, his father can always provide. A man of many years’ experience surely has the information needed and can put it in a relatable way that will keep his trust for a lifetime. An oracle to a knowledge seeker.

I looked the boy in the eye an explained, “In the scrum, the player in the centre who rakes the ball back with his foot.”

He looked at his father knowingly, “Thanks, Dad!”

As he left the room, off to learn more about his new favourite sport, I felt a burning emanating from the other side of the table. The staring glare of both confusion and disappointment from my wife was remarkable. To clarify her suspicions, she needed to ask, “Did you understand his question from the beginning?”

As a proud father, I let her know that my connection with the boy was strong, “Absolutely.”

She responded, “And you just allowed me to explain this topic knowing what he was really asking?”

Proudly, I replied, “Without question.”

 

Thanks for reading. I write blogs. Oftentimes simply to enable me to claim at parties much to my wife’s chagrin, that I am in fact… a writer. At other times, to allow businesses and businesspeople to get their message across.

If you could Share via the buttons below, follow me on Facebook, that would be wonderful. Cheers. Jase.