Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Melly in an alley

George Melly, the jazz musician died a couple of years ago. I can’t say that I’m that familiar with his music, although one claim to fame is that his former drummer lives next door to me.

 I once heard a great story about Mr Melly. He was doing a gig up in Manchester. There happened to be some kind of altercation in the loo between one of his band and a member of the audience. Whilst nothing came of it within the venue, things got potentially very nasty after the gig.

 Mr Melly had left the club and was walking down an alley having vacated the premises through the stage door. Approaching him was the person involved in the earlier scene in the club along with several mates.

 They were looking very menacing right down to the broken bottles in their hands, clearly meaning business. As they came closer,  our man George suddenly started reciting metaphysical poetry at the top of his voice. They scarpered.

 My mother once received an abusive phone call late one night. The caller enquired as to the colour of her underwear. She responded by asking what colour his was, and that she wouldn’t declare the colour of hers until such time as she’d got the information about his. He hung up.

 Generally speaking, we human beings are pretty predictable creatures. Because of this, we can make ourselves vulnerable to everything from physical attack, to dubious phone calls, to marketing approaches. When we take control and think independently, that can throw people. They have little or no contingency for the unexpected response.

 This can be a life saver. I understand that the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, who offer help and advice to women around fending off would be attackers, suggest that, if attacked you pretend that you are going to be sick. An unexpected reaction, which, apparently works. My version of this would be to pretend to go into a fit . I very much doubt anyone would want to nick my wallet – even try to get at it – whilst I’m flailing around, out of control and apparently gagging for breath.

 On a milder note, a huge amount of work goes into designing store layouts in order to get customers to buy product. The store will look to predict customer behaviours, and manipulate the shopping experience into one where the unsuspecting consumers end up at the cashier’s desk with a heaving trolley. They may have come in for just one or two items.

 It’s a more subtle form of mugging which results in the hapless shopper thinking “what did I go and buy all that for?” or similar and nursing a badly bruised credit card as a result.  And, to cap it all, half the items probably end up being un-eaten and getting chucked.

 So, whether its physical attack or popping down to Asda or Waitrose, the principle is much the same. The weapon to fend off the attack? Awareness. With heightened awareness, we can still think for ourselves, we can deal with the aggressor or manipulator by drawing breath and considering (albeit in a split second) how to respond in a way that helps us survive and/or remain free and independent.

 I read a great , heartwarming story on a related theme a couple of days ago. Rather than relate it here, this is a link – it’s well worth a read:

 Finally, passing through my local shopping centre recently, I was about to be “mugged” by a man in a business suit representing the energy company E-on:

 “Excuse me sir, could you tell me where you currently get your energy from?”

 “A bowl of porridge every morning”  Chris  replies cheerfully as he walks briskly past.

 Which reminds me – time for breakfast.           


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