Futurelearn week 8

That’s not Cricket

A leading Conservative Minister had been booked by one of the Politics lecturers to talk to students about Economic Liberalism and Government Policy. It was something of a coup for the Institution to get such a high profile speaker. It was an opportunity that Lenin couldn’t resist.

Lenin was an ex public schoolboy, who had attended Marlborough. He had discovered Marxism as an alternative to attending lectures or studying. He was the organiser on campus of the International Socialists(IS).

Lenin gained his nickname from a ridiculous attempt to grow a Van Dyke beard in honour of Vladimir Lenin. Such beards look pretty silly on most people at the best of times, but when you’ve barely started shaving and have thin mousy hair and acne, you cannot hope for it to be taken seriously.

Proletarians have a very specific way of dressing, at least in the minds of the vanguard of the proletariat, So filthy jeans, a donkey jacket and a ‘lumberjack’ shirt made you look like any docker, car factory worker or builder. Lenin added to this ensemble posh suede shoes and a blue peaked cap, not quite a cloth cap, not quite a military cap, probably something that Vladimir would have worn. Cigarettes, an essential accoutrement, were Gallouise, or something that smelled foul.

How could the revolution fail with the wardrobe so carefully matched?

Lenin was always escorted by two other students, or young men who looked like students. They rarely spoke and were never seen in lectures.

At the announcement of the Minister’s visit, posters went up everywhere declaring a boycott of his talk. The Student Union passed a motion at a meeting which occurred, if it occurred at all, several days after the appearance of the posters. This made it official.
Lenin and his companions toured the campus. They walked into every lecture and classroom. They never knocked or asked permission, but stood at the front to make their announcement.

“We expect one hundred percent solidarity,” Lenin declared. “Nobody, I repeat, nobody, is to attend the meeting with the class enemy. There will be a picket and demonstration on Thursday evening and we expect mass attendance. Scabs will not be tolerated.”

Lecturers just accepted that Lenin would disrupt their classes for a few minutes. It was quicker than making a fuss and meant that they didn’t find a swastika etched on the bonnet of their car with brake fluid. It happened to one lecturer who made a fuss and it didn’t happen again.

On the evening of the meeting a group of about fifty students and other protesters gathered with IS placards outside the lecture theatre. There were a few policemen, looking as if they would rather be somewhere else. The class enemy arrived with a motor-cycle escort and the chanting began, led, as might be expected, by Lenin with his loud hailer. A hail of eggs and flour spattered the Minister’s car and his jacket when he got out. He was escorted quickly into the building as the chanting intensified.

It was quickly discovered that the only audience for the meeting was the lecturer who had made the booking and Andrew, one of his students. The meeting was therefore reconvened in the lecturer’s office.

For the next few days, Andrew had to put up with being called a scab by Lenin and various IS members. He was also presented with an official IS Class Traitor badge. The badge was presented by Lenin on whom the irony of their respective backgrounds was completely lost. Andrew, as a mature student, had worked in various industries including the Docks. Lenin was straight from public school. It also reinforced the fact that the ‘Vanguard of the Proletariat’ were not of the proletariat but were a self selected group who shared the delusion that they were destined to lead the proletarian sheep. Certainly, Lenin seemed like Animal Farm’s Squealer, leading the chanting of his flock.

The following Thursday evening, Andrew was confronted by Lenin and his two companions.

“We’re here to teach you a lesson,” Lenin declared.

They were obviously not there to play cricket, despite one of Lenin’s companions having a cricket bat.

Andrew learned a lesson that evening, but it was not the lesson that Lenin was delivering. He learned that one real proletarian was more than a match for three Vanguards of the Proletariat.

If you’re going to start a street fight, there are things you need to be aware of. You need to know if your opponent is a former docker. You need to know if your opponent has been in the military. You need to know if your opponent has trained with professional boxers but, most importantly, you don’t choose a location near a wall with a loose half brick.

Lenin looked as if he intended to deliver a lecture first but Andrew didn’t wait. He banged the nearest IS thug, the one with the bat, on the nose with the half brick. The nose was broken and there was blood everywhere. The thug staggered off and was out of it.

The second thug stepped forwards with arms flailing. Andrew simply grabbed one arm, wrenched it upward and threw the thug to the floor. A dislocated shoulder is agony and takes the fight out of anyone.

Lenin turned to run. Andrew pushed him to the ground as he stumbled. It’s funny how a would be future world leader degenerates into a cowardly jelly, but that was Lenin. He lay on the ground whimpering.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Please don’t hurt me.”

Adrenaline is a funny substance that made Andrew both frightened and driven. Normally softly spoken and with a gentle manner, he found himself delivering a hard whacking to Lenin’s legs and softer anatomy with the cricket bat. Lenin just lay there in the foetal position, sobbing and making no attempt to defend himself. His companions had limped off and provided no additional support.

Andrew turned up for lectures the following day half expecting to find the police waiting. Instead there was quite a buzz at the news that Lenin and his comrades had been ambushed the previous evening by a National Front gang.

“There were about a dozen of them,” Lenin told the small gathering, “knives and chains and hammers and everything.”

He showed his bruises.
“It was a bit touch and go,” Lenin boasted but we got the better of them. We won’t be hearing from them again.”

Lenin was mobbed by a small clutch of adoring girls.

Such is the way that class heros are created.

Sometimes a course of action is inevitable. Andrew reflects on that every time he reads of a violent crime. He might easily have been the victim. His attackers would happily have killed him, that might even have been their intention, but it didn’t change the fact that he had resorted to violence himself.

Andrew still has the cricket bat. It’s not really a trophy. It just seems a shame to throw it away.

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