During the summer term, my subjects were a combination of business and law. I was going out with Michelle and those long, warm days at college were spent between lectures, studying and enjoying life. I was happy and felt like I was heading somewhere.
Toward the end of term, Michelle told me she and a friend were going inter-railing around Europe in the summer holidays and asked if I wanted to come along. It sounded like fun so I agreed. After the end of term, I headed North to earn a bit of money and got the results for my first years’ study. I averaged an A in Business and a B+ in Law so my degree was going in the right direction.
In mid-summer, I packed my rucksack and headed South on the coach to meet up with Michelle and her friend, Jessie, for inter-railing. As we’d be living in tents for a month, I decided that I should get a skinhead so washing hair would be one less thing to do. Michelle was less than impressed with my new look.
We got the ferry to France and trains through to Germany and Austria. We originally wanted to visit the Balkans, but war broke out, so we diverted down Italy instead. It was evening when we got off the train at an Italian port town. The place was a dump. Jessie decided to buy some ice creams and openly rummaged through her money, watched by a gang of dodgy-looking men. Unaware that she was putting herself at risk, I walked to within a few feet of her and caught the eye of one of them. He stared at me while I unzipped a bag and put my hand on a knife. It was only a Swiss-Army knife, but it was still a knife. I purposefully kept my hand in the bag, but stared back. He got the message, had a word with his menacing-looking mates and we managed to get out of there without any trouble.
We boarded the ferry to Corfu and slept on the deck because we’d bought the cheapy tickets. Jessie minded the rucksacks while Michelle and I scouted around to find a quiet corner to bed down for the night. When we returned, the scantily clad Jessie was surrounded by half a dozen workers, who’d emerged from the kitchens. We approached and they went back inside until it was obvious there was only one bloke with the girls and they came back out and sneered. It was a threatening situation. I told the girls to grab their bags. As we collected our stuff, they started making noise and tried to block our path.
I recalled some advice given by a New Zealand mate from circuit training in the North. If you’re ever threatened by a gang, hit the biggest one hard and fast. The obvious leader of this band of cooks was a well built, greasy looking, long-haired man. He was much bigger than me. As I picked my rucksack up with my right hand, Greaseball moved forward and tried to grab me. As his arm reached out, I leant my left shoulder back, then surged forward and punched him in the face using the full weight of my rucksack. He fell backwards against the kitchen wall. I leant into him and snarled “Fuck off!!”
While they were still stunned by the international nature of my language skills, we backed away to a safe distance and walked off to bed down for the night at the other end of the ferry. We settled down to an otherwise uneventful night. Just before we reached Corfu, with rucksacks packed, we leant on the railings as the Albanian mountains slid past in the cool moonlight.