I guess I’ve kind of let the cat out of the bag with the title, but the few strange and crazy things that led up to this peculiar situation are worth sharing.
Soho, a place of dreams (and really weird stabbings)
Years ago in Soho, London, when the drinking laws were even more draconian, to continue pouring poison down your neck after midnight required locating a dark and dingy - and illegal – after hours bar. This would often require stumbling round the back alleys of the old Red Light Area – Rupert St, Brewer St, etc, until a man – the type you’d usually avoid at all costs – would appear out of a doorway, notice your stumbling and slurring, and ask if you want to go to a bar.
Upon agreeing, you’d be relieved of £10 (each!) before being led down a maze of stairs, and doors, and stairs, then a few what would appear to be encoded ‘knocks’, before more stairs and more doors. Eventually you’ll be let into what was essentially someone’s front room, with a makeshift bar of a couple of tables, loads of canned beer and some bottles of spirits. The prices were high, the clientele were too, and you got to keep drinking. Everybody's happy - ish.
It was down this alley, known locally as 'Crack Alley' where it all happened.
Now - even later in the night - around the entrances to these places would gather all manner of night hassles – clip artists, which if you don’t know are ‘fake’ prostitutes, who will take your money and run, all manner of ‘fake’ drug dealers – who would also take your money…..and run, as well as a whole host of other little shits who would offer you some kind of ‘assistance’, be it a taxi, another club, women, drugs, the usual – before taking your money – and running.
So around 5 AM, and barely able to see further than the end of my nose, me and my friend leave the bar. We’re escorted along another few stairs and doors and more stairs and doors until eventually we're spat out onto the street, straight into the hands of these people, this collection of problems. ‘Cocaine? Ladies? Weed?’ they’d ask in rapid succession as we tried to slither through, trying our best to be invisible.
Me and my friend, Tony, seemed to have avoided them all, but one of them, an Iranian looking guy in a silver tracksuit (yes, silver tracksuit) persisted with us and continued offering us all manner of things we did not want, and which we knew weren’t really available anyway.
I got this off the web, but I think it's actually him!
He wouldn't give up, repeatedly slapping me on the chest in time to his mantra 'Cocaine? Ladies? Weed?' After a minute or so I’d had enough, and with Dutch courage spilling from every pore I turned round and politely asked him to ‘fu*k off’. Tony looked shocked, and in fairness it was probably not the best way to talk to such a person.
He wasn't happy and immediately got angry. He started shouting at us both in Arabic. I looked at Tony, “Shall we do him? I asked – not because I wanted – or were even able to ‘do’ anyone, I just thought the two of us, standing up to him might cause him to leave, and pick on someone else. Alas, no: “You do me?’ He screamed, “You do meeeee!” again, now fronting me out.
This is what they promise you. This is not what you get.
I remember being a bit worried, but also, with all that booze running through my veins, the whole thing appeared rather stupid. But then I saw him fiddling round in his pocket, and my first concern was a knife. Balls! I thought – this has escalated, this could get dangerous, I might end up in A&E. Until he pulled out, a plastic fork. A plastic fork! And started waving it around under my nose, threateningly - sort of.
Exhibit A - How I nearly met my maker.
I laughed, Tony Laughed. “You do me!” he said, as we both laughed. I fiddled around in my pocket, looking for something equally stupid with which to join the fight, a plastic knife would have been perfect. But no, I pulled out…….a Bogota Rake.
Exhibit B - Our Bogota Rakes - he met their maker.
Seeing that I was now also ‘armed’ he went for a stab, aiming the plastic fork straight into my belly. Instinctively I moved my hand to defend myself, but in doing so, the Bogota Rake pierced and slid into the side of his wrist. Balls. I had just stabbed someone with a Bogota Rake. He lifted up his arm in shock, observing the weird, bent, little piece of metal with which I had stabbed him, and was now sticking out of his wrist. I did the only thing I could do. I ran, Tony Ran, with the sounds of a man with a Bogota Rake in his wrist screaming ‘You do meeee!” in the distance.
I like to think our friend in the silver tracksuit removed the Bogota, kept is as some kind of trophy and one day someone said it was a lock pick and thus began his journey into this wonderful art of ours. In truth however, I imagine he removed it and now that’s his weapon of choice. Or he threw it on the floor. Probably that.
But - just in case - if you’re ever out in Soho, London, and a man in a silver tracksuit offers you drugs and women, be aware, he might be armed with a Bogota – so my advice is – take a lock with you.
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