The cursory glance

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Someone accidentally catches your eye, or you his. The glance becoming a stare, and progresses to a verbal exchange. This is the Pre-cursor to violence. Often, when you make eye contact with someone and it becomes increasingly obvious that you do not know each other, the ego clicks in and goes to work. The initial accidental eye contact becomes a fullyfledged staring contest. The eyes, being a sensitive organ, cannot hold a stare for too long without the occurrence of soreness, watering or blinking. Not wanting to blink first, because it might be construed as a 'backing down', the one with the sorest eyes throws a verbal challenge, ('You fucking looking at me?) to hide the fact that he needs to blink. If the verbal Challenge is returned ('Yeah, I am looking at you! What you gonna do about it?'), then the fight is probably on.

To avoid and/or escape the fight scenario, you need to understand the 'cursory glancer'. These are his ritualistic steps:

  • You may catch the eye of someone across a crowded room or a street, the look lingers. -He asks the question, 'Who are you looking at?' -A physical approach follows. -He reiterates the question, 'I said, what are you fucking looking at?'
  • He then generally progresses to an actual challenge or attack. 'Do you wanna 'go', then?'
  • Often the assailant will attack at 'actual challenge'.

If he does not, as a pre-cursor to violence, he will often drop into single syllables that act as subliminal action triggers to his attack. Words like 'Yeah', and' or 'So' are often employed just before attack. The single syllable is a sure sign that the interview is nearing an end and the introduction of physical violence is imminent.

This is the complete ritual but occasionally, depending upon the victim's response, the attacker may jump steps. For instance he may move directly from the question to the actual challenge, so an early exit is always advisable. I am aware that we are going over old ground here, but it stands repeating. Try and use a physical response only as a last resort. A young man walking down the street alone will think nothing of ignoring a group of barracking men across the road. However, put the man in the same situation and add a female companion, and that man will be ready to argue and fight the world to defend his manhood -even though his lady is begging him not to get involved. These insults mean nothing and should be ignored. As I said earlier 'it's not personal!' Lads, the ladies are not impressed when you walk into a fight that you could have walked out of. I have been involved in many hundreds of fights and can categorically state that it is the stronger man that can walk away, so please walk away, the time to fight is when you are given no alternative. If I have a fight I want it to be for a better reason than, 'the guy was staring at me'. If I end up in court on a manslaughter charge I don't want the judge to be saying to me, 'You killed this man because he spilled you beer Mr Thompson?'

Violence is a serious game, so don't walk into it with any romantic ideas of how it is going to be. It is always ugly and always frightening. I have never stood in front of a man that I wanted to fight, never had perfect conditions and never thought 'Yeah, I' m ready for this'. Every fight for me has been more like, 'I don't want to be here, I don't need this, is this going to be the one that gets me killed or jailed?' Having said all that, and having meant it, if it is going to 'kick off, if you are sure and there is no other way don't hesitate, never allow anyone the opportunity to attack you first. If you can't walk away and you honestly belief that you are going to be attacked, attack first and then get away. The police won't give you this advice, even though it is well within the law, because they probably feel that to sanction violence is to invite it in. They don't want some murder suspect turning up on the front cover of the national newspapers saying, 'I only did what PC Dick told me to do.'

Perhaps the police are frightened of the consequences of honesty, believing the general populace do not have the intelligence to handle lawfully defending themselves. One PC, (I have actually heard several reports of this happening at police-run courses for nightclub doormen), told one of my friends, that he could not legally attack first and must wait to be attacked and then counter-attack, with reasonable force, if he wanted to stay within the law. Now, forgive me if I overreact here, but that is not just bad advice, it is untrue. The law allows pre-emptive behaviour, as long as it fits with the circumstances: you truly believe that you are about to be attacked. I will deal with this in more detail in a later chapter.

In the case of the cursory glancer, it is advisable not to hold eye contact. If you are sure that it is just a cursory glance and not a challenging stare (it will usually be very obvious) just smile, perhaps say, 'hello' and then break the eye contact. This will probably leave him thinking; 'Oh I must know him, where do I know him from?' The ritual is then broken at the very first stage. If he does ask you what you are looking at, just apologise and say that you thought he looked familiar. If he asks you if you want trouble say 'no'. This will usually end the confrontation because he will feel as though he has won and wander off to his cave. This will be hard if you are a male with an ego to feed, but a lot easier if you are a confident person that does not need to hurt people to prove your masculinity. Women rarely have a problem with submissiveness. Unless a woman has been brought up with a weak male role model it is not normally in her nature to be the 'protector'. If the latter is the case, she may have developed male characteristics to balance the loss in her environment, one of those characteristics being the ego. If you are still approached put up a 'fence' (to be detailed) and prepare for a physical encounter.

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