Colin Cross had tried his hand at many things, he had been, in turn, a trainee shoe shop manager, a fibre glass moulder, a jobbing builder, a barman, a general labourer, a concrete repair specialist, the manager of a large seaside attraction, an operations manager in the Leisure industry, both in the UK and the Middle East and a salesman of various products.
Having such a varied career had led him to meet many people from all walks of life, some of these people had been reasonable, some had been less so, many had been British, others has been foreign. Being easy going (and a little naive) Colin had, in the main, got along with the vast majority of people he met, but there was a certain type of person that Colin had never been able to fully understand. The kind of person that for whom every event or action was always, somehow, the final straw, the point of no return, the thing that would cause them to make a final stand, to threaten murder, mayhem or worse. This type of person didn’t understand reason or measured argument, this type of person would often continue to threaten, rant and browbeat, to try to force their point home even in the face of incontrovertible evidence that they were mistaken in their view or were over reacting to an unprecedented degree.
Around the time of the 9/11 attacks on the USA Colin was employed as the General Manager of 3 amusement arcades in an Essex seaside town.
On an early summer evening much like any other Colin came out of the counting room/office and looked out over the banks of fruit machines, video games, prize cranes and coin pushers, Vic, the bingo caller was just getting into his stride for the evening session, his throat suitably lubricated by a couple of pints of Kronenbourg.
Paolo, the Portuguese floor walker came up to him and said “Mr Colin, I think we got a bit of a problem over here, you come look”. Colin followed Paolo to where one of the local toe rags, a 17 year old “hard case” called Robbie, was playing a fruit machine; there was a win bank of £25 showing in the display. “Ere mate, check this fackin pay art will ya, this fackin thing owes me forty fackin quid, he seen it”.
Paolo nodded to Colin to acknowledge he had in fact witnessed the non payment. It was obvious to Colin what was happening, the machine was in free play test mode, something that happened occasionally when there was a loose door, all the locals knew about it and very few tried it on, Paolo being fairly new had let one slip past him.
Colin reached to the back of the machine and switched off the power “Come on Robbie, you know the score, you’re trying to have me over, you know as well as I do you aren’t owed any payout” “Fair enough” was the reply “But I put a quid in and I want it fackin’ back”. Colin said “Let that be a lesson, if you’d have shouted up and not tried to con me you know I would have given you your quid back”.
So far as Colin was concerned that was an end to it, and he wandered back to his office. Fifteen minutes later there was a bang on the office door, he opened it to see an ashen faced Paolo, trying to calm down a large, tattooed, Hawaiian shirted seemingly very angry man. “Ere, are you fackin’ Colin, you cant”? The man said. “Yes I am, what can I do for you”? You fackers ave ad my boy over, e’ put a fackin quid in a machine that was facked and you aint give im is quid back”.
Colin had been in similar situations more than once; in fact the arcade employed a door man for times like this, but Matt was on a break. “Just a second, sir” Colin said “Am I to understand you’re Robbie’s dad”? The guy grunted in reply. “You do understand that Robbie tried to con us out of 65 quid, I’d be within my rights to ban him for a while, even maybe call the police, and I thought losing his stake might teach him a bit of a lesson”
As usual in these situations, this was when the fun really kicked in, Robbie’s dad, true to form, started to vent in the way that only his type knew. He was one of the entitled, he had never been wrong in his life and he wasn’t about to start being wrong now. By this time Robbie was back and, standing behind his dad he was laying it on with a trowel; “It’s always like this in ‘ere Dad, these fackin’ places is a rip off, it needs sortin’ art”
The man turned to Colin and said, calmly but menacingly “I’m fackin’ tellin you nar mate, give im is facking parnd back, or I’ll rip your ‘ed off and shit darn yer neck”.
At this point Colin could see, over the man’s shoulder, that Matt, the door man had re-entered the arcade. With the backup he needed he now replied to Robbie’s Dad; “I sort of understand where you are coming from, and it is understandable that a man would want to stand up for his son, but we are talking here about a pound, a quid, a single coin of the realm, if you are prepared to commit extreme violence over a pound, what would you be prepared to do, if say I’d burgled your mother’s house or, worse still, attacked your wife in the street”?
This stopped the man dead in his tracks, his position was now one of weakness and he knew it, he also knew that Matt, as calm as only he could be, was stood at his shoulder. Rounding on his son, the man, who had by now attracted quite a crowd, mustered what little dignity he had left and said “You aint heard the last of this (Colin had though), and as for you (gesturing at the boy) I’m tellin you now, if I catch you in ere again I’ll fackin kill yer”. With that, they both left and Colin never saw the dad again, or had a moment’s trouble with the boy.
I hope that this story hasn’t been boring; there is a point to it. When someone is on the wrong side of an argument, or has very little case to put forward, they should try to remain calm, listen to the other side and accept, when they have lost, that it is best to do so with a little grace.
Throughout the referendum campaign and its aftermath there have been many arguments which have at times been quite vociferous, but where has the real nastiness come from?
Which side has taken every opportunity to interrupt and shout over its opponents?
Which side has consistently been the most negative?
Where are the hate filled voices coming from that cry, Racist, Knuckle Dragger, Oldie, Stupid Little Englander and worse?
Which side sees MP’s saying they will “refuse to accept” the democratic choice of the majority and, by doing so, create social division where none really existed?
Which side feels that it is acceptable for a child to carry a sign calling an elected MEP a CUNT?
Which side was prepared to hi-jack the murder of a young female MP to try to influence the outcome of the vote?
The institutional Left, in all its guises, needs to learn that when they talk about mandates, when they shout about democracy and when they play any one of their top trump set, be it the race card, the gay card, the Islamic card or any other, that at least 17,410,742 British people voted to Leave the EU. That is almost 1,300,000 million more than voted to remain. No amount of over the top argument, hate filled social media messages, death threats and general opprobrium will change that number.
For the sake of the country and probably their own sanity, the Tim Farrons, David Lammys, Polly Toynbees, Laurie Pennies, Dan Hodges of this world (not an exhaustive list) need to get over themselves and start thinking how they can make Brexit work.
If they need a couple of examples on how to comport themselves might I suggest Gisela Stewart, Kate Hoey and Brendan Chilton, people of the Left with self respect, passion and gravitas.