The Backstreet Berlin Brawl

My dear lords and gentlemen. How wonderful it is to be in this room, right next door to the great hall where so many great speakers have spoken.
I say, Lord Percy, that’s a rather fine elephant head you have on the wall there.
It took six of you?
Must have been some impressive fight!
Reminds me of my fight with a vagabond in Berlin. Have I ever told you the story?
Well, before I begin, I hope you don’t mind me saying that cognac in the decanter over there looks a most wonderful colour. Oh really?
You’re too kind. And some snuff too? Well it would be rude not to.
Now let me begin. It was two years ago. I had been in the city of the Berlin visiting no other than Count Von Zeppelin himself, to discuss my investments in his company. We had lunch, along with several other prominent figures of Germany’s engineering industry in the Bristol Hotel on the Prince Albert Strauss. I said it back then, and I’ll say it again now. Those fellows are a wonderfully inventive and ambitious bunch. If we are not careful they will be right on top of us in a few years.
After lunch, finding that I had the afternoon free, I ventured to a part of the city I had not been before, the Schoneberg district. Whilst walking in the Nollendorfplatz – a most delightfully gay square – I saw an absolute ghastly display of manners. Some ruffian had pushed over a lady! I called him out straightaway.
“You, sir, are not a gentlemen!”
He replied, “Mach es dir selber, sie ist Prostituiertees.”
Well, frankly, I didn’t care what denomination she was. I removed my jacket and rolled up my sleeves. A small crowd gathered around us. I warned the hoodlum that I was an Old Oratorian. Those early years, regularly beating off the fag-masters and sixth-formers, was some of the best training a young man could have.
I raised my fists and he did the same. We then began to circle each other and the crowd cheered on.
I made the first move, in with a left, right, right quick jab combination. The punk returned with a most horrendous move.
“What kind of man kicks another in a street fight!” I yelled out, before returning with a right uppercut followed by a quick left cross.
The scruffion stumbled back, the crowd gasped, and in a blink he returned with a sharp jab, landing dead centre on one’s stomach. The air quickly escaped from my lungs and I lent back.
Going back to my school days… In our Latin classes, if we were to, say, fail to get the right pluperfect of a verb, the master would wind us by violently throwing whatever book was in his hand. Thanks to the hardback edition of Kennedy’s Latin primer, us boys soon learnt to take pain.
Whilst many a gentlemen may have required a while to recover, I was able to return swiftly with my right fist, landing it straight on his conker. I could almost see the stars form in front of his eyes. To my surprise however, he came back with a perfect left hook – for which I must give him credit – that caused me to lose my balance somewhat.
This was then followed with a left jab, a straight right, a straight left and a right jab. Or was it actually a right jab, right hook, straight left, straight right? You’ll have to excuse me if I have not remembered all the details correctly.
After receiving this volley of punches, I staggered back, the distance between myself and him seeming to spread as my eyes struggled to refocus.
Another important lesson I had learnt from my school days was no matter what, always stay on your feet. I remember someone – a soft lad by the name of Fosbrey – caught in the showers one time by six of the house prefects. The fella was head over heels in seconds and the next thing they were all on top of him. For the next two weeks, poor old Fosbrey couldn’t sit down and could just about barely walk.
I immediately shook my head to pull back my senses and get back in the fight. The crowd gave an enormous cheer as I landed a right hook on the rascal’s chin. Blood began to drip from his mouth as I came back with another right hook, followed by a left uppercut. The crowd cheered louder.
We were then back to circling each other. I could feel my right eye beginning to swell and my vision gradually dimming. We both caught our breaths and I feared that the vagabond’s next move might not come from the rule book.
The crowd went silent as it became a stand-off. The young woman, for whom I had first intervened, looked at me, and I looked at her. Returning my sight to my opponent, I saw him reach down to his back pocket.
I was not going to give him the chance of pulling out whatever it was he was reaching for. As quick as a flash, I flew forwards with my right arm straight out; in my head, the sounds of my old house dormitory carried me forwards.
My fist landed straight on top of his skull and made such a satisfying sound. His whole body went limp in an instant and he dropped like a rag doll to the ground, accompanied by a huge hurrah! from the crowd.
I recovered my jacket, rolled down my sleeves and began to put my dress back in order. As the bully began to stir, I walked over and said, “I hope you have learnt, sire, that you never push a woman.”
He lifted his head from the pavement and nodded. I continued.
“And never mess with an educated Irishman. For we are the worst kind!”

The Dead Adventurers Club

The Backstreet Berlin Brawl

Robert St-John Smith

Leeds, United Kingdom

  • Artist
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