“The Fatal Objection to All Such Plans …” (1902)

The anonymous author of this short article, originally published in the Perthshire Advertiser of 31 October, 1902, makes the valid point that the first rule towards winning a fight is to know that you’re in one (the second being that there are no rules).


The Grand Duke Michael, who is become quite a familiar figure of late, was one of the distinguished onlookers at a performance of an unusual kind, which took place this week in a hall in Berners Street. It was nothing less than a demonstration of how to tackle Hooligans, given by a French professional man, M. Vigny.

Everybody knows how effectively an umbrella may be used as a means of defence against a mad bull (though very few people ever put that theory to the practical test). M. Vigny argues that if a bull is afraid to face an umbrella, there is no reason why a walking-stick should fail to frighten a Hooligan. Certainly in his hands the humble, everyday support of man becomes a powerful ally indeed, and, if we had a score of French professors like this to let loose on them, the odds are that the Hooligans would all have their eyes put out.

The fatal objection to all such plans is that they depend for success on the person who is attacked keeping a cool head. What most people want on these occasions is not a nice walking-stick, but a good nerve.

Nine men out of ten—and it is no reproach to them – fall into a state of such excitement when they are suddenly and unexpectedly set on by roughs, that the Hooligan is able to do his business, usually assault and robbery, in double quick time, and get clear away before the victim realises what has happened. It is only when he is once more alone and begins to collect his scattered senses that the poor man notices for the first time that his watch is gone and feels the blood trickling down his face.

If he had a walking-stick it would be gone, too.

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