"Everything's connected," as my father likes to tell me. And good quality hair clips are no exception, of course.
Bear with me on this and you'll see how small details can indeed matter. Even in an incident of violent crime.
You Can Become a Victim AnywhereA couple weeks ago I became a crime statistic.
If you've been following my blog or emails for a while, you probably know that I am a bit keen on figure skating. I skate 3-4 days every week and I have hopes of competing in the British Nationals next year (at a low level, though - I'm not that good!)
So I was squeezing in a short practice at the ice rink during the public session in the afternoon when a group of five young teenagers decided they took a dislike to me.
They had been fooling around on the ice earlier playing a dangerous game and the management had very strongly told them off. They were actually lucky that they hadn't been banned.
They subsequently decided that I had been the one that had "grassed them up." Which I hadn't.
When I later stepped off the ice to get a drink from my bag, two girls from the group skated up and shouted at me, demanding to know why I had reported them. This became more heated, even as I explained management had CC TV covering the ice and everyone had seen them.
The girls swore at me and one then threw a water bottle cap in my face before skating off.
I figured that was the end of the matter. As they were clearly not afraid of threatening behaviour, I decided it was unsafe to return to the ice with them around. Not wanting another confrontation, I took my skates off and packed my bag to leave.
It is my habit to keep my skatebag near one of the side fire exits. This is because I can put my skates on close to the gate and it is only two steps from the bench onto the ice. This helps keep my blades sharp. Unfortunately is also a corner of the ice rink that is rather isolated.
As I stood to go, the two girls stepped into this corner and positioned themselves, blocking both exit passages.
I approached one of the girls as I made my way to leave, and put a hand on her wrist so I could pass.
"Don't you push me," she said.
"I'm not pushing anyone," I replied, and firmly holding her wrist I moved her arm aside and stepped through.
"Where are you going?" she shouted after me.
I said nothing and suddenly I was punched in the back.
Never Underestimate Your OpponentI'm sure with my grey hair I probably appeared to this girl like a weak target. She had no way of guessing that I train to fight in both karate and kickboxing three days a week and I have one hell of a reverse punch.
I spun around, and without thinking grabbed her upraised arm. I was about to follow through on what would have been for me the instinctive and well-practiced second strike.
She was in a bad position, physically weak, on skates with poor balance, standing at the top of a set of stairs.
"What, think you're tough?" she spat into my face. And thank goodness she did.
I immediately recognised that this girl had her blood up and was only interested in escalating the fight.
The image that immediately came to my mind was a scene from the original Karate Kid film, where Mr Miagi councils his young student Daniel that "the best defence is to not be there."
I immediately released her, saying "No. I'm not tough. I'm going."
Then I turned my back to her and started walking away.
Now this was very risky for me.
Because, and this is important, I didn't have my hair up in a good hair clip.
Long Hair Can Be a LiabilityMy biggest worry as I turned from this girl was that she would go for my hair. When I later talked about the assault with my karate teacher he agreed that was the point when I was possibly the most vulnerable.
If she had got my hair and used that advantage to get me to the ground, with them wearing ice skates it would have gone very badly for me.
She hit me twice more in the back as I walked away, but she was fortunately hobbled by her skates as her friends called for her to leave me.
I reported the incident to the children's teachers (who were having tea and a nice chat in the cafe), and to the management. Then I left.
After getting home I phoned my husband, then the police and officially joined the massive pool of statistics recording violent crime.
What I learned by becoming a crime statisticI have two lessons from this experience that I want to impress upon you:
1. Every woman should take up a real martial arts course. Not some girly "punch in the air" boxercise class at the gym. A proper course where you repeat "double jab, cross, duck, hook, reverse" over and over and over until you can do it instinctively both with power and speed. You might just need it. Plus your husband will probably thinks it really cool.
2. Have a good hair clip, for crying out loud. Not only does it keep your hair out of your way and looking good, whether you are battling work colleagues or feral teenagers, once you're a bit handy with your left hook punch a strong barrette or beak clip makes for a nasty, nasty weapon.
And I can almost guarantee your assailant will be extremely surprised to find you suddenly armed.
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