Chris Maclean: A fight with a customer

By Chris Maclean

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Time

I got into a fight on Saturday. Over 20 years of working in the trade it was bound to happen eventually. But it probably could have been avoided.It...

I got into a fight on Saturday. Over 20 years of working in the trade it was bound to happen eventually. But it probably could have been avoided.

It was the middle of the afternoon when a young man came in and slumped into a chair. He was clearly drunk. I moved over to him and asked him to leave. He stood up, mouthed obscenities and hesitated. He was trying to form an exit strategy.

Then he head-butted me.

It wasn't too serious but I was shocked. How could this idiot choose to hit me? I'm 6'3", 20 stone and ugly. I am afraid I retaliated and the gentleman concerned bounced off the walls and floors a few times. I am trying to make light of it but my wife was very distressed about it. She was there and still shakes when I recall the details. And each time I recount it my role gets better. If Hollywood were to screen it, according to my latest version, they'd have to bring Arnold Schwarzeneger out of retirement. It seems that the story has gotten around town that it was quite a brawl.

But it wasn't really. Although I guess he was nursing a few bruises this morning.

Two things concern me. The police were, as anticipated, glacially slow in responding. They sent officers from a town 20 miles away to take a statement at 9pm on a Saturday night ~ a time when I had better things to do. Eventually they took a phone statement at 6pm this evening, 30 hours later. I was, comfortingly, offered 'victim support counselling' which I declined. I suggested perhaps 'offender support counselling' as I was sure he was worse off than me. I had no particular urge to pursue it but I had reported it to the police mainly to ensure this man was stopped before he assaulted another licensee. There seemed little chance of that.

The other thing that frightens me a little in retrospect is the idea that nowadays such incidents have a nasty way of getting out of hand. I could have called the police earlier. I could have done more to defuse the situation. Maybe I shouldn't have towered over him in such a threatening manner. I get occasional thoughts about what if he had a knife? He had threatened to come back and "open me up" but I guess there was a lot of bravado to compensate for his loss of dignity. It's difficult looking cool when he had spent much of the confrontation on his backside. Would he come back with his mates? It's highly unlikely but we've read worse stories in the papers recently. It could easily have gone terribly wrong.

There will be many licensees out there who have faced far worse situations than this, perhaps on a regular basis. It goes with the territory. Our industry is dedicated to ensuring people have a good time and, unfortunately, sometimes some people abuse that. It isn't what we want to see happen and we'll do our best to make sure it doesn't.

I was sad that it kicked off a little. But I also have a guilty secret. I have to confess a slightly smug sense of satisfaction that the problem was dealt with, no one was injured and I have got grazed knuckles as a battle trophy I'm secretly a little proud of. I haven't felt that since I was a schoolboy.

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