Teaching has forced me to change.
Suddenly there was a flare up, screams and shouts and a vicious fight. Stepping into stop a fight for the second time in two weeks, I thought that this was not my way, I have always avoided fighting. At all costs, I have always avoided violence.
It was not an attitude that developed in recent years. I always ducked out of fights, even in teenage days, flying fists were for other people.
The students at my sixth form college were barred from using a pub in a local town for discos. Not a function would pass without a fight ensuing from some annoyance or insult or argument.
Coming from farming backgrounds, as many of them did, trying to disperse a scrap amongst some of them was as vain as slightly built referee trying to separate opposing packs of rugby players when a sly punch has been thrown once too often.
The first time I was present, an affray began; glasses started flying through the air and the sensible thing to do was to duck under the table until the bouncers had restored order. It was my first time there and the last time the venue was used. Later events elsewhere were altogether more placid affairs, so I never discovered if other tables offered a similar degree of shelter.
Ducking out of trouble seems always to have been a sensible strategy. Getting involved in someone else’s fight at a dance was pointless; hardly anyone ever knew what the fight was about in the first place.
Fighting at football matches was the reason why some people were there; even the police were hard pressed to respond to the organized violence of the late 1970s. Beery-breathed, DM wearers had often only come to the matches for the scrap, the events on the field were incidental to the battle on the terraces.
Living in Northern Ireland in the the 1980s and 1990s, all conflict was something to be avoided whatever the cost because conflict was never a simple matter of a punch up in a pub; even verbal battles could snowball into vicious confrontations.
The desire to avoid physical violence slowly grew into a desire to avoid all confrontation; saying nothing even when feeling indignant.
I still avoid rows, believing, with reason, that no-one ever won an argument, but lunchtime duty at school has demanded restraining those involved in the fight. At least, today, I didn’t end up on the floor.