And I broke a bloody fingernail!

By skepticlawyer

Those of you who are my facebook friends will know that last night, I was the victim of a serious assault. That piece of legalese doesn’t, however, quite do justice to the experience of having a bottle smashed over one’s head.

If it’s a ned, then it must be Buckfast.

In short, two persons — a male and a female — attempted to force entry to two of the apartments in this building. One of them was DEM’s. They were not interested in theft. They were, however, interested in assault. This building includes a significant proportion of sheltered housing (for elderly and disabled people). Not the sort of people who can easily defend themselves. When the pair tried to burst through our door, I threw them out. I found out that martial arts is for life and not just for fitness, although it would appear that some of the rules have changed since I earned my shodan (black belt) in 2000.

I followed Sensei Enoeda‘s advice and immobilised the male — very successfully. He could do nothing. I had him in an arm bar (a ‘no 9’ for the aficionado) with his back to me. I then used his bulk to drive both of them towards the front door and out of the foyer of the building. At this point, his female companion broke a half-full bottle of Buckfast over my skull. This represents a significant cultural shift. I have worked as door staff in a few venues; take out the male and any woman usually goes to pieces. During later conversations with the paramedics who provided EMT, I learned that women are now worse when it comes to the perpetration of certain kinds of street violence in Scotland (particularly when it comes to disrespecting members of the emergency services). One paramedic put it down to a failure to appreciate ‘when one is beaten’. Men know when to stop; indeed, once I had the male in a secure arm bar, he was shouting at the woman to calm down and not resisting me strongly.

In a comment on another thread, Lorenzo made the following observation:

On the other side, I am told by a friend who used to manage a venue that female audiences at strip nights tend to be much worse than male audiences because of a more attenuated sense of when to stop.

This, after my experience, has the ring of truth to it.

At that point, I got a bit miffed and there was a a scuffle in full view of the CCTV cameras in front of the building (see you on Crimewatch, people). I think most people pass out when glassed. I didn’t. I kept coming (ADMIN DEM: think of the terminator robot wearing a curly blonde and badly bloodied wig). At this point they ran (ADMIN DEM: As you would).

For the uninitiated, Buckfast is the ned’s tipple of choice. All 15% alcohol volume of it. A ned — as I explained on facebook — is Scotland’s version of the chav. However, one friend who is a member of the Scottish constabulary describes neds as ‘unaspirational chavs’.

The joys of the NHS

At this point staff and patrons of the nearest Italian restaurant were very helpful… and it was very handy that their paper napkins were already red. Scalp wounds bleed like buggery. There followed two phonecalls to the police (one by DEM, one by the restauranteur), one call to the ambulance (by the restauranteur) and then a late night tour of the Royal Infirmary’s A & E department. And let’s just say that if waiting 2 and a half hours while pissing blood from a head wound is ops normal for the NHS on a TUESDAY, then I can see why the American reaction to socialised medicine is: DO NOT WANT.

Apparently my failure to either (a) pass out or (b) lose the plot was the justification for this. When I was finally x-rayed, I was complimented on my unusually hard head and thick skull (ADMIN DEM: no comment). Something (for those lawyers among our readers) of a reverse to the usual ‘Eggshell Skull‘ rule. Even worse, DEM and I were sent home in a taxi — for which we had to pay — at close to 3 am. The incident occurred at approximately 9pm.

Notices informed people waiting in A & E that this is normal procedure. I am unusually strong and fit and capable of managing my emotions from many years of martial arts training. I would not like to be a ‘regular person’ with a ‘regular skull’ and no martial arts training being sent home in a taxi after being glassed. I didn’t like it much anyway (ADMIN DEM: ordinary people being glassed wouldn’t be going home at all).

And I broke a bloody fingernail!

The irony this morning as I write this? The thing that really canes is a torn-off fingernail (right down to the nail bed) on my right hand (I am left-handed, fortunately). Apparently what is in my head is a staple (the implement used did look like an office stapler), not a stitch, although this seems to be something of a distinction without a difference. It doesn’t hurt, unlike the fingernail.

Here endeth my anthropological report on the Edinbuggeris Vulgaris Ned.


  1. conrad
    Posted August 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Sounds awful. I hope your head heals soon. Too bad you didn’t break the guys arm (and even moreso the girl), and I hope they get caught.

    Incidentally, this is definitely an advantage: “I was complimented on my usually hard head and thick skull”.

    When I used to work at Macquarie Uni many years ago, a member of our staff was hit in the head from behind, and apparently if she didn’t have an abnormally think skull that would have been the end of her — so the thicker the better I would assume!

  2. Posted August 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    “unaspirational chavs”

    Utter genius.

  3. Posted August 11, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Holy hell! Thank goodness for your thick skull. And your martial arts training.

  4. Posted August 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Commiserations on a nasty experience and congratulations on your effective performance. I have been thinking of taking up martial arts training …

    (I have done a martial art for some years–SCA fighting– but it does rather operate on the basis of weapon, shield and armour: some photos including provide a practice group for the Mounties riot squad: more photos here, at an event that regularly attracts 20,000 people. But it is terribly civilised violence, unlike what you were subjected to.)

  5. Posted August 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Well done on the thick skull. Most of what I remember from my days as a martial arts trainee is the Bruce Lee 3-Point Survival Plan.

    1. Kick groin.
    2. Poke eyes.
    3. Run.

    A&E is basically the same in Australia; it’s rationed out. Pro tip for service: try to spray blood on the paperwork.

  6. Martha Maus
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    My 11 yo has been doing martial arts for assertiveness. I do hope he will be “ned proof” in adult hood. Ditto my approval of your thick skull.

    It’s more than likely that the soup of buckfast and her chosen companion will provide the revenge I would seek against your perpetrator, but without visuals for your entertainment.

    Posted August 12, 2010 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Yes the rest is forgiveable, but the fingernail..
    note you’ve reflexively dived into writing it out- koan.
    a nasty shock deflector, but I dont envy you for a while, easy does..

    “Buck fast?”
    Can it be as putrid as it sounds?

  8. Posted August 12, 2010 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    God, sounds horrible. Missed it on facebook. Keep yourselves well SL and DEM.

  9. Melaleuca
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Hope you recover speedily, SL.

    On a lighter note, if they ever have a ladies UFC I’d love to see you in the octagon!!!

  10. Jennifer
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Take care.

  11. Tim Quilty
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Turning up in an emergency room in the middle of the night, bleeding from the head and smelling of alcohol, the staff probably decided you were just another ned yourself.

    In my limited experience in the area (I worked nights as a security guard at a hospital in Sydney for a year while I was studying) the staff probably slid you right to the bottom of the priority list.

  12. Posted August 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Tim, I have a bad feeling you may be right; when I was finally called for treatment, the doctor commented somewhat sheepishly on my ‘posh’ accent (I have what is basically an Oxford accent, with a bit of Australian underneath, so quite posh by British standards). Clearly what came out of my mouth was not what he expected!

    That aside, thanks everyone for your supportive comments 🙂

  13. Posted August 13, 2010 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    And what I love most about this is your ability to write about it so dispassionately and clearly, even though it was so dreadful and recent. Thank heavens for your thick skull.

    I hope the fingernail stops hurting soon. They can be real bastards, torn nails.

  14. Peter Patton
    Posted August 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink


    I sure hope you sue the ned gits. Your statement of claim could demand damages to cover several hours at the Harvey Nicols manicurist! 🙂

  15. Posted August 14, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I hope your head has recovered and that the fingernail will grow out quick smart.

  16. davidp
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Well done defending DEM and your apartment block-mates.

  17. Posted August 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Awful, but well done.

    Lyoto Machida stand aside, Shotokan’s second high profile endorsee steps into the light…


    Srsly, hope you recover ok.

  18. Posted August 15, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    My goodness…under that thick skull is a fantastic brain and an incredible gift of writing.

    I was entertained whilst still being horrified at your bravery …and you have a neurological disorder? I hope there are no lasting repercussions…apart from the dratted fingernail.

  19. Posted August 15, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    sorry…got you mixed up with the third person on your about page…the scottish thing threw me!

    no wonder you write so well…no other novels in the foreseeable future?

  20. TerjeP
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    SL – you’re not supposed to fight back if you get attacked. You’re supposed to call the police and let them sort it out. We can’t have mere citizens beating up bad guys. What would the world come to if ordinary people routinely fought back like you did. Somebody could get seriously hurt.

    Seriously though I’m glad you’re okay and I hope the bad dudes get their day in court. I’m sure you’d make a star witness.

  21. Posted August 16, 2010 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Only just catching up with this – so glad that you are both OK, especially glad for your thick skull, SL.

  22. pete m
    Posted August 16, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on your defence of yourself and others.

    Do they have private emergency operations in Scotland?

    Did they catch those #$%$#%$tards?

    take care

  23. Posted August 19, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks all once again — I get the staples out today, and things are moving on the legal front (I can’t really say much more), which is a good thing. I never thought I’d be glad of CCTV, but this time, I am.

4 Trackbacks

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