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Spain 3

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

I concluded my initial meeting by getting details of her ex husband and their kids, Toms kids, ex colleges and friends, you know the obvious stuff, because at the moment there was not much to go on.  I was sure that the laptop would have something on it, but obviously there was no guarantee.  Anyway it was agreed that I would go and look at Toms laptop at Mrs Willis’s hotel the next day and until then there was not much I could do.

However although there wasn’t much I could do I was sure there was something for Cyclops to follow up.  I was curious why a Special Branch officer would be working with a “Steady Eddie” civil servant, and where as they might have been looking at animal rights activists,  I have to say I had my doubts.

I rang Cyclops and gave him the details of the ex husband.  He didn’t know him and I suppose why should he, Cyclops had been out of the Police for a while now and there are about 30,000 police officers in the Met so the chances of them knowing each other were slim.

However about five minutes later, Cyclops rang me back to say that a mate of his knew the ex husband as he had been a uniform Inspector some years ago.  Apparently the ex husband was a bit of a high flyer and some time ago there was a thing in the Met called interchange where detectives and specialists had to go back to mainstream policing for a year or so on promotion – all very interesting I know, but the point was that Cyclops mate had told him that the ex husband had been Willie Whitelaws body guard and had been on “B” squad and had gone back to “B” Squad on his return to “The Branch” or to put it as Cyclops and his policeman mates do “The Bwarnch”.

“B” squad dealt with Northern Ireland terrorism at that time until it was handed over to MI5 in 1992.  This would have been about the time that the ex husband would have been working with Tom.  This was all very tenuous of course and there was a a whole lot of supposition and gap filling on my part, but for some reason had the sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe Tom was not just a “Steady Eddie” pencil pushing civil servant slowly and quietly making his way up the career ladder.  I mean you don’t just arrive as a senior Civil servant by chance do you.  I know that in all big organisations there is a jaundiced view of those who reach very senior positions and their ability to actually do the job they allegedly do, but you have to do something to get there, even if you do not do it particularly well.  The other thing is why would a civil servant be involved in work relating to animal activists and more to the point why would he work so closely and be so chummy with a Special Branch officer.  I wonder if they were friends and if they still kept in contact?

The excellent food, wine and the large brandy were making me feel sleepy and I decided to call it a day and to start a fresh on the laptop the next morning and got tube back to Hammersmith Broadway.

I felt full and sleepy and decided that maybe I would give grub a miss tonight

Well no, maybe a couple of slice of toast and soup wouldn’t go a miss.

Oh and some of that nice ham from the deli counter or some pastrami.  Hmmm Pastrami I haven’t had any pastrami for ages.

I was woken from my dreams of pastrami just in time to realise that I was at Hammersmith and just get off the in time before the doors shut.  It was not a dignified departure and I was sure that I must have been snoring but at least I hadn’t dribbled.

I remembered why I don’t drink at lunchtimes.

Spain 2

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

After my agreeable lunch it was down to business to find out a little bit more about the vanishing husband.

Apparently he was 62 years of age and prior to retirement about  15 months ago had been a senior civil servant.

He had worked in London and he and his wife had lived in a village in Essex not far from Stanstead Airport.   Both he and his wife had been married before, he was a widower and she was apparently divorced.

The place in Spain had been hers and had been part of her divorce settlement the place in France was his.  The Essex property had been bought jointly and was now let on a long term basis as they had chosen to live most of the time in Spain and have holidays in the house in France, although she did tell me that they let it to friends and friends of friends.

They had a couple of grown up children each who were either working, away or at uni.

My client who I will call Mrs Willis described her husband as “A steady Eddie, popular at work doing nothing terribly Earth shattering”.  I did think he must have been more than steady to have had a place in Essex and a house in France and to have risen to his position as a senior civil servant, although she did not say how senior, but from the way she dressed, talked, acted and her overall demeanour I got the distinct impression that either money was not an object or they lived beyond their means, but carried it off very well.

I asked the usual questions about him, but she didn’t tell me anything which would give any hint as to why he should just up and off without a bye or leave to anyone.

“Well, what do you think, has he gone off with another woman?” she asked after a pause in the conversation.

“I have no idea, but what would make you ask or think that?” I said rather startled by the sudden change of tact.

“Oh you know one is always reading about these older men who suddenly rediscover their youth and go off with a younger woman a mid life crisis sort of thing” she explained rather matter of factly.

“Mmm I suppose, but from what you have told me it seems out of character for your husband” I replied.

“Well yes and no” she paused “You see Tom and I had a lengthy affair before we were together officially” she said quietly.

“Oh I see” I said rather lamely

“Yes, he had a loveless marriage, and mine was no better.  My ex husband treated me like an object to be exhibited saddled and mounted as and when he felt like it”

I choked slightly on my after dinner chocolate mint at her words, but I think I got away with it. “How long did this affair last?”

“Ten years give or take a few months”

“Why didn’t you leave your respective spouses?” I asked

She threw her head back and laughed “Spouses” She laughed again “Spouses, now you sound like Rumpole of the Bailey rather than Inspector Morse” she ribbed me.

“I can do a good Jack Regan impersonation if you like” I retorted slightly taken aback at the latest change in tone and pace of the conversation.

She looked at me very seriously “Shall I see you back at the factory then guv?” she rasped in a very passable George Carter accent.

“Very good George,  very good” I responded “Gotta say though I’d never had you doqn as a sweeney fan”

She smiled “My ex husband was on Special Branch and he loved  it, actually so did I and I used to live in Chiswick a few doors away from John Thaw and Sheila Hancock.  He was a nice man”

“Why did you divorce him then?”

“No not him you oaf, John Thaw!” she exclaimed

“Anyway back to the point in hand, why didn’t you leave your spouses” I pressed her.

“Well Mr Rumpole it was for the children, we wanted to wait until they were older and could understand”  She sighed “What a mistake that was”

“Why?”

“Very simply they never understand, whether they are ten, twenty or thrity years old they are still children whose parents have split up.  It had never occurred to me before we got together.  In fact I will tell you this, it would have been easier all round if we had done it nine years earlier, less deceit, less stress, less pretending oh God all that time wasted and by the time we had the chance to be togther so much damage had been done to us in one way or another.” She paused “Would you think me and old lush if I got a brandy?”

“Not at all, you’re paying”

“Very true, we will have big ones, or mayne you have already, but as I am paying I will insist you join me” She signalled the waiter and ordered the drinks and more coffee and then shook her head.

“It was worse because Joan, thats Toms first wife died in an accident.  When he first told me, I am ashamed to say I cried and danced for joy.  I only met her twice and that was briefly so I din’t really know her, but Tom was very unhappy and his pain hurt me more than my own existence.  When Tom told me she was dead I thought “this is it, we can be together at last”, but life plays cruel tricks on people”

“Why, what happened” I asked

“well Toms kids had lost their mother, and of course as soon as someboy dies they become perfect.  Look at Pricess Di for Gods sake.  One week a pain in the arse and then public are really fed up with her and her carrying on and then the next thing she dead and becomes Mother Terresas twin sister and evryone is going round wailing and mourning.  It was mass hysteria.  Do you think I am terrible saying that?”

“No not all, I have to say I thought the same thing about the Diana business”

“Do you think it was an accident” she asked very intently

“No”

“Who do you think killed her, the Queen, Prince Phillip?”

“I would say they were the outside runners when it came to the lengthy list of suspects.” I replied

“Hmm but….”

“Look” I interupted “Why was there such a problem when the wife died” bring her back again to the matter I was being paid for.

“Ah yes well of course death also brings guilt and remorse, Tom started thinking he had contributed to her death, which he hadn’t of course, he just felt he had.  And then there were his children they had lost there mother as I said and they needed to be helped through that period, although the thing is that period never ended for them so that when we finally made the split and got together officially they took it very badly indeed.  Actually Tom has really only just got back on to what you might call natural terms and there sis till anomosity from the younger girl.”

“How do they get on with you?”

“Fine”  she said abrubtly ” I had a few months of prima donna stuff and then said enough is enough.  I told them it was not my fault their mother was dead and that I had no intention of trying to replace her in their lives and that we could either get on and be friendly or they could take a hike.”  she paused “Actually I really wanted to tell the two of them to piss off, but it wouldn’t have been right in the circumstances.”

“Fair enough” I said “How did the wife die?”

“Oh it was quite ghastly really, she was burnt to death in their caravan.”

“Doesn’t sound too pleasant” I agreed

“No, they had this caravan down in Dorset,  Joan went down there for the weekend prior to them all going for a short holiday.  It was low season and not many people around. There was a problem with the gas or a fire and the place went up in flames.  It would seem as if she had had a bit too much to drink that evening and so was over come by alcohol and fumes and as I said there were not many people around so by the time anyone realised anything was wrong and called the fire brigade it was too late.”

“A bad business in deed” I ageed.

“Well out of all good comes bad” She said “And I know I will sound terrible, but it sort of removed one of the obstacles to Tom and I being together, although there were the other issues which as I explained cropped up as a result and there was insurance money from the fire and life insurance on Joan which was quite considerable.  In fact Tom used that to buy the place in France.  His kids wont go there, say its not the same and that he shouldn’t of bought it.”

“How did you and Tom meet?” I asked trying to move on to more cheerful topics.

“Oh through my husband ironically enough”

“How come?”

“Well David, my husband had been working with Toms department – something to do with animal activists or some such group, I forget and they had a function near Holborn.  I got a bit tidled but  had a really good time and Tom was a real gentleman and charming.  David and Tom worked together on this project quite a bit and then something else.  They weren’t friends as such…..” she tailed off.

“And what made you and your husband split up finally, did he find out about you and Tom”

She laughed “No I found out about him and Vanessa the undresser.”

“Who?”

“Vanessa the undresser, the slut he had been keeping and having children with for God knows how long” she snarled all signs of good nature gone. ” She was a collegue of his that he had been shagging for years.  The fool, she was half his age”

“Probably still is” I interjected

She stared at me for an instant and then smiled “Yes I suppose she still is”

“Why the venom, you were having an affair for Tom and yet you seemed to be miffed that the old man was doing the same?”

“It was because I was having the affair with Tom that I was so miffed as you put it.  All that time I stayed with him qand I could have been with Tom.  It also transpires that David Hated me and wanted to be with her from the momenbt he met her.  I have no doubt he loves her more than life itself.  You know since we have divirced and he has been with her he is actually a really nice chap.  I couldn’t ask for a nice ex husband.  He is a wonnderful father to his second set of kids and has beome a better father to our children.  But do you know the bit that real sticks in my craw Mr Norman”

“No tell me”

“She is a really nice woman.  Nobody has the right to be that pretty and that nice and understanding.”

“Do you get on Ok with her”

“Of course I bloody do thats what’s so bloody annoying, it is mpossible to dislike her she is a genuinely nice good person.  The bitch”

“So then”  I said taking stock of everything that had been said “Where does that leave us with Tom?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“I would like to visit your home and through some of your husbands papers and things, it might help.  Do you have a computer?”

“Yes, avtually i have Toms laptop with me at the hotel”

“I would like to look at it if you don’t mind”

“No not at all, but do you need to visit the house”

“Maybe not, but it often helps, as I said people often leave a little clue somewhere”

She looked at me and did not seem convinced and there was something in that look and her manner that for an instant made me think of Gollam in Lord of the rings.

I don’t mean she looked like Gollam, but the bit in the where he has lost the magic ring which he calls his precious.  I don’t know why he came to mind, but I got the feeling she felt she had lost her precious.

The thing is where was her precious?

Spain

Monday, January 19th, 2009

My meeting was with a female client who had said she was coming to the UK from her home in Spain and wanted to eat a proper English meal.  I assumed by that she meant the British National dish- Chicken Tikka Masala, so was a little surprised  but not too unhappy to find myself being instructed to be at Rules (English) Restaurant, Maiden Lane Covent Garden for 12.30 sharp.

The lady was in her mid to late sixties, trim, well dressed but not matronly nor by the same token mutton dressed up as lamb, well spoken but not gratting, tanned but not leathered and had an air of being used to getting her own way without being domineering. and all in all was quite likeable.

The food was very good as always and just for the record I had potted shrimps followed by Steak and kidney Pudding.

As I said, she was agreeable enough company, but maybe a bit too right wing for us to make it as a couple.  I said this to her and she laughed heartily and said it was funny I should say that, because she had been a very active socialist and member of CND in her youth and was a friend and collegue ofBruce Kent or was it Clarke Kent?

“You know Mr Norman, today’s socialist worker is tomorrows stuffed shirt.”

“What makes you say that?” I asked not disagreeing with her.

“Well my dear, just look at Peter Hain for goodness sake, a few years ago he was a subversive menace, London’s answer to Che Guevara, throwing stones at the window of the South African Embassy and being a right pain in the rear, fighting the oppressor, alleging he was framed by Special Branch and now he has Special Branch protection and there are concrete blocks around parliament to stop people who were just like him from attacking the seat of democracy, by which I mean he doesn’t want to get blown up now that he has made it to the big time and has all the trappings it brings”

“A bit cynical don’t you think?” I said again not entirely disagreeing with her.

“Maybe, I am not just picking on Peter Hain, just using him as an example, but I have been around these sorts of people all my life.  Everyone in Politics talks a good job and how they are there for the people, but they aren’t they are in it for themselves, look at the expenses submitted by some MPs, many of them claim three times the average salary, how can they be in touch, its not them that will be made redundant because they have messed up the economy is it?”

“No, but they could loose their seats at the elections, which is the same thing”

She laughed and smiled “Ah yes and then they move on to the board of some company or other, so they just change jobs, they don’t have to make ends meet on unemployment benefit”

She had a point.

“All very interesting, but you didn’t ask me to lunch to discuss the rights and wrongs of politics did you?”

“No, but I understand that you studied Politics at unviersity and I was intrigued as to what kind of person…..”

“Goes there, does that and then eventually becomes a mercenary”  I said saving her the awkward question.

“Well yes” she laughed

“That still doesn’t really tell me what you want me to do for you”

“No, it doesn’t you’re right.  Its my husband, he has had a late life crisis and has gone walk about”

“Another woman?”

She shook her head “No, well I say that, I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so, but he had been acting odd for a while and then just took off”

“How do you mean?”

“Well he was there in the evening and I got up the next morning and he had gone, no note, no goodbye, nothing”

“Any ideas where he may have gone?”

“Well I thought he had gone to our place in France”

“Where abouts”

“Near Cahors”

“And”

“So far nothing. I tried ring him on his mobile and on the landline plus email, but that got no response, nothing”

“What about friends and family?”

“No, I tried that but nobody has seen hide nor hair of him”

“Very odd indeed” I agreed

“Well done Inspector Morse” She said with good humour. “It is odd”

“Well you know it is funny you should mention Inspector Morse, because I remember him saying to Sergeant Lewis “People just don’t disappear Lewis, they have to go somewhere” and I have always kept that in mind, he has to be somewhere and somebody knows where he is, all we have to do is find him.

“That simple?” she said

“Well simple might be putting it a bit strongly”

“So where do you think he is then?”

“I have absolutely no idea at the moment, but people usually leave some trail, it is just a question of finding it and then following it”

“Is  everything in your life so simple?”

I looked at the plush surroundings of the restaurant and the murmur of conversation and felt that satisfying flush of lunchtime wine and having eaten well, it seemed so unreal when only a few days earlier I had been under the baking sun hot, tired, thirsty and hungry.

I shut my eyes I could almost hear the flies and the sounds of the dying children and the human desperation that war brings.

I opened my eyes and looked at her

“I wish”

Happy New Year – I Think

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe New Year.

I ended 2008 by being told by my bank that I was dead yet again.  I am beginning to wonder if they know something I don’t.  Although I have to say if this is being dead I feeling pretty good on it!

Well only three days in and 2009 looks as if it is going to be busy and I will be spending more of my time working from my place in France rather than the UK.  I have been toying with the idea of moving full time for the last 18 months, and although I have still not made the decision to totally up sticks there are a number of things pushing me in this direction

First and foremost I like France and the French and how they do things, plus the French don’t keep telling me I have died, which is reassuring.

Every month we do at least two days field and weapons training and we do this in France over there because we cannot do it here.  As it happens we have quite a few jobs on the go  in Europe at the moment and quite a bit in France itself so it is just seems easier to be there from that point of view

Last but by no means not least, I understand my own country and countrymen less and less and do not like what I see or hear anymore.

I am not saying things in France are perfect- especially with the exchange rate as it is, but from the time I have spent there they are a little more realistic and in touch with what is what.

To be fair a lot of the fault in not being in tune with modern life in Britain is down to me and having spent such long periods away so that I have been out of touch plus I am getting older.  Things have moved on and I haven’t.  The over riding thing is that we as a nation seem to have lost grip on reality, what is important and right and wrong.  The other day hundreds of people were being bombed in Gaza and the leading news article was some footballer being arrested for assault.

I know I am not alone in some of these views but I hear everyone blaming foreigners for the woes of the country, but it is us who have allowed this to happen not them, we have to accept responsibility for our actions or inactions.

Actually I don’t because I haven’t been here, but you lot do!

Somebody does something wrong and they don’t take responsibility for their actions, instead they look to blame somebody else or for technicality to get them off.

I will give you a couple of examples.

If your football team losses or your budgie dies everyone is devastated.  Hiroshima was devastated not Mrs Jones over Bluey.

All to often we hear that somebody goes out for the night and leaves their  small children unattended and something bad happens to one or all of the kids. We all know that those adults have abandoned those kids and have failed them and broken the law.  It is terrible thing when these incident occur, and surely such things should be investigated in the same impartial way no matter who you are, but that is just not the case, because in our country these incidents are treated very differently depending on who or what you are.

For the family on benefits,  the boys in blue are onto them like a rash.  Mum and dad or  boyfriends get nicked sent to court and banged up and made to pay the price for their wrong doing.  In any event the other kids if there are any get taken straight into care, job done.  However for the Middle class professional family it is very different, the parents don’t get nicked or the kids whisked into care.  The family might immediately appoint a professional spokesperson , are supported by all sorts of people, maybe even the home secretary, launch an expensive appeal get the public to give them loads of money, get to see the pope (I have to say the pontif has never been much help on any of the jobs we have done) light candles etc.

So why is it your fault and an offensive to abandon your kids if you are unemployed and down the pub getting pissed but not if you are earning 100K + and eating at a fancy restaurant and and getting wazzed on Chateau du Chateaulay?

I dunno.

Recently a bloke was filmed getting a whack from a police officer whilst being arrested.  I don’t want to comment on the rights or wrongs of the officers actions, but the alleged victim of this bwutal assault by Mr Plod was a soldier who had recently returned from Afghanistan.  He said that whilst being arrested and getting said slap he “feared for his life”.

What?  He feared for his life whilst getting a bit of slap from Mr Plod!  Sorry son, but do my a favour,  if that made you fear for your life, you need to rethink your choice of job.  I don’t suppose it has occurred to this donkey that maybe if he hadn’t been pissed, gobby and a right pain in the arse in the first place he wouldn’t have got a slap.  I am not condoning police violence but having dealt with lots of soldiers who have fallen foul of the law when on leave I have to side with the police.  If they weren’t tucked up dealing with knob heads they could be doing other more useful things like sorting out bent MPs who were leaking documents to journalists- just my little joke.

On New Years Day I was invited to a lunch/ buffet organized by my brother in law – dead sisters husband.   He is a bit of a gullible drip in my book, a typical business lacy, jobs worth. I understand he speaks highly of me as well.  Actually we get on OK most of the time because we are such different personalities.

Anyway, the food was good and there was an interesting mix of people there, but there was a knot of fifty somethings bemoaning “Gordons” Birtain and the nanny state and the fact that the health and safety brigade and Johnny foreigner were ruining life for all and sundry.  One of the most vocal people was a rather overweight lady stuffing her face with nosh and getting well stuck into the G&T who had her left leg in plaster.

The conversation eventually got round to what she had done to her leg.  It transpired she had been on a team building week  to some, place in Welsh Wales and had fallen whilst abseiling or climbing.  She immediately told the group that she was suing because certain Health and safety procedures had not been followed.

The assembled grey hairs gave a a chorus of ” good for you”

I have to be honest and say that having looked at her I wouldn’t have let he slide up and down on my rope and asked what had gone wrong.  I was expecting to hear that there was an issue over bad kit, poor instruction or something like that.  No, apparently it was on a technicality, in that there was supposed to be some notice or some such thing on display and each participant should have had a leaflet saying X, Y and Z.  It really had nothing what so ever to do with the actual event.  I asked what actually happened and it emerged that this woman was just too fat and unfit to abseil 20 feet down a rope- I was right then.

When pushed- by me that is, not off the cliff -she actually said that one of the instructors had said he didn’t think she should do it.  He even had the audacity to say she was too overweight and not fit enough. So guess what? Her legal team are also suing him for “attempting to discriminate against her and in doing so making inappropriate, offensive and disparaging remarks of a highly personal nature which caused her distress” even though he was clearly right!

Distress I would have given her distress.

I couldn’t quite get to grips and thought I must have missed something with all this and actually had to ask her “He told you he didn’t think you should do it because it could be dangerous and yet you ignored his advice, did it anyway, got hurt and now think it is his fault because there wasn’t some sign up somewhere”  she thought for a moment and then said “Yes I suppose you could put it that way” The group nodded and then a grey haired trendy said “bloody cheek, what was he thinking of, who did he think he was”  “yah yah” went the assembled croup of middle aged dick heads, they could not see that she was in the wrong not the instructor.

Now then, You know sometime you wan to say one thing and another comes out, for example you might want to say “Typical Manchester weather” but instead it comes out as “Tickle my arse with a feather” well I thought I was going to say ” I am so sorry to hear of your misfortune madam and I wish you a speedy recovery and all the success in you litigation”, but instead it came out as “Sadly it’s probably due to your fat arse breaking your fall that you only hurt your leg and didn’t break your piss taking neck”.

The group were aghast and the trendy bloke said “How dare you, could you be any more abusive and offensive?”

“Oh yes he could ” chipped in  L who had just joined the group and was guidig me away gently by the arm”without any problem at all”

I was thinking of making a move towards home anyway.

Wherever that is.

Bonne annèe

Restricted Sale

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I spent Christmas with the MIL and the rest of the family.  On the way down I stopped off at a Tesco to buy some last minute bits and bobs and needless to say I was the only one in there.

Anyway, I picked up the bits that I wanted and when I had finished found that there was a self scan checkout free.  Yippeeeee I would be in and out in a mo.  So I put my stuff through and all went well until a message flashed up “Restricted Purchase Wait For Assistant”I  stood and waited and people started to form a queue behind me.

I waited and waited and eventiually a Tesco girl with a massive bunch of keys came along. I dont know how old she was, but if pushed I would have said she was about seven, anyway she looks at the machine and my huble shopping and  said “Oh I can’t deal with this!” and scurried off.

Much huffing and puffing from those waiting behind me.

A few moments later the seven year old came back with an older lady who could have been her mum, but I dont think so.  The older lady put a key into the machine and puched some buttons, swiped a card entered a code and I was on the point of them both counting to three and simultaneously pressing a red button to launch a pre-emptive strike.  They stopped short of that, but started to smile their customer service smile when they stopped and looked at me.  “Are you all right sir?” said the girl

“Yes I am just a little confused, what was that all about?”

“You have purchased restricted items sir” she said very pleasantly but as if she was talking to somebody who was deaf or a little simple.

“I have?”

“Oh yes sir and we take the sale of such items very seriously” she replied

“So I can see, but what on Earth have I bought that warrants such security?”

She didn’t quite tut and roll her eyes to heaven at my stupidity, but instead smiled that smile that people have specially for us care in the community cases and reached into my carrier bags and indicated the offending articles.

Famous Names Liquor chocolates and Luxury (no expense spared this year) Christmas crackers (actually they were reduced and were a bargain).

“You’re joking” I found myself saying

“Oh no sir I am not” she bristled “We wouldn’t want these falling into the hands of little ones or the wrong type of people would we sir?”

My mind filled immediately with an image of some terrorist getting pissed on his Famous Names before holding the western world to ransom with the snappers from his box of luxury Christmas Crackers, but I just couldn’t see it somehow.  Then it struck me that maybe I looked like the Wrong type of Person.  I decided that for once instead of being a smart arse I should just sod off and guzzle the devils brew from my chockies by the Christmas tree while pulling a few crackers. Phanarr phanaaar.

The festive season was very agreeable, but it did strike me how complicated family life is these days.  Maybe it always was, I don’t know, but it was brought home to me this time because it was the first time I had spent any time with the BIL since his split from Dawn and the little Tete a Tete we had in the Holiday Inn.  I had no grudge to bear and said as much as soon as I saw him. He relaxed a bit, but I don’t think he was entirely sure.

He and Dawn were a little on edge with each other to start with, but in fairness that soon wore off and they were very amicable in front of the kids and everyone else.   I noticed neither drank and the FIL and I kept the famous names and the crackers away from them just in case……….. I mean lordy we didn’t want the Christmas afternoon showing of Mama Mia interrupted by drunks causing explosions.

I did get to watch most of my festive favourites namely Home Alone 1&2, The Muppets Christmas Carol, the Santa Clause and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  The rest of the time I made War Hammer models, put batteries into things, assembled plastic Barbie houses repaired the things I helped build earlier and played a variety of very intellectual games the best one of which involved hitting a mole on the head with a plastic mallet.

Its bollocks really, but I did enjoy it.

Aled Jones

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

 I got back from our latest job yesterday.  Before we went I had hoped to be back a few days ago but something cropped up as is the way.

My pal has not had a chance to sort out pictures for the self defence stuff so we will look at that over the the Christmas holidays.

Actually our job went much better than expected from our point of view.  I am not entirely sure they would feel the same way.  We were in quick, quiet,  fast and hard and then out again.  This meant that we were left trying to get back to the UK ahead of schedule.  It was proving to be trickier than you would think,  when I got a phone call from Cyclops. He told me that he had had sister Marie (the French nun who runs the children’s home where Joseph is in Mozambique) on the phone saying “she had had rats coming to the  home”.

Tres odd indeed, why would she ring us about rats?

Despite the communications problem I eventually got through and she was very business like, which was odd because she is normally very friendly and full of life and joy and I got the impression sho could not talk freely.  There were two rats, one black and one white and they had been to the orphanage and had been making a nuisance of themselves

The rats had been interested in one individual only and that was Joseph.  Sister Marie knew that the black rat was not a local and the white rat was English.  She did not like either and had blocked them and arranged for Joseph to be moved, however she was concerned that the rats would find out very quickly where he was.

On hearing the news the team plan was changed unanimously and we redirect to  M, which turned out to be a hell of a lot easier than getting back to the UK.

16 hours later  we were there.  Tired, dirty, smelly, and seriously fucked off and I mean seriously fucked off.  However, it was a good sign that we had managed to get some hire cars sorted at short notice, even if they were what you might call an odd  mix.  A Mazda 4×4 pickup,  two Kia picantos, and a bloody awful Kia minibus thing.  Still cars are cars.

Sister Marie is a one of those people who restores your faith in human nature.  I look at her and people like her and marvel at their courage and tenacity at trying to cope in the face of a tidal wave of human misery.  She welcomed us, but was clearly distressed at the unwanted intrusion by the two rats and what I couldn’t understand was why such a strong old bird as her would be so rattled.

I asked the question and she looked back at me very seriously and eventually said “I think he is one of Mugabe’s men.  He is not from here, because he speaks very poor Portuguese. He is posing as a driver and always wears a jacket because he carries a gun- left side.  He has the look…” she tailed off an looked at us “Do not be offended Monsieur Norman, but like you and you friends”

“No offence taken I know what you mean”

She  smiled ” The white man is English and carries an expensive camera and has been asking lots of questions of the children.  He was giving sweets and tried ot bribe one of the cooks who works here.  Then they came in and he was asking questions about our work and where the children came from.  The black said did we have children form Zimbabwe becaue if we did they should go back if they did not have papers.  I said I did not know what he was talking about.  Alors, they went away and then came back again two days ago and had photo of Joseph.  I said he was not here and the English man said he was a friend of yours and that he had photgraphed Joseph here. It was clear they did not know you and I told them that I heard you were dead and that Joseph had left and was not here anymore and I didn’t know where he was.  That caused them some confusion and they left but said they would be back.”

“Do you know where Joseph is?”

“No Monsieur Norman, I had spoken to Monsieur Cyclops and he had got somebody to pick Jospeh up for a few days.  An old friend who works at your embassy, but I do not know his name or where he is Monsieur Cyclops said if I din’t know I couldn’t tell”

“How do you know he was the our man” I asked

She smiled because we had a code he gave me this DVD and wished me “Happy Christmas” She picked up a copy of the Snowman.

“Different, but I think we can take it that our boy is safe”

“They will be back again soon I think” she said.   I had a feeling she was right.

Time for a quick briefing and to knock some sort of plan together.  Initially we thought about having two mobile obo teams (2 blokes per car) who would follow the two rats and house them which would give us some background on our targets.  Then BF pointed out that really we didn’t need background  we were making life more complicated than it need to be.  As he said ” These fuckers are well out of order so lets cut the crap.  Pick them up here at the orphanage and remove them somewhere discreet and quiet for a cosy festive chat.”

I had a feeling that BFs idea of a festive chat would definitely get him on Santa’s naughty list.  He was right of course.

I went back to see sister Marie and we decided that the children would be moved to a nearby church for the day under the pretence that we were builders doing essential work.  As it was there was a fair few maintenance jobs to be done.   It was decided that BF, Bob Geordie and myself would work around the office where our visitors were likely to turn up and the others would get stuck into mending roofs, plumbing and other DIY joys.

To be honest it was good to be doing something as a team that was positive for the human race and the mood lifted despite the hard work, fatigue and heat.  It was about 35c but it felt hotter and stormy.

At 3pm a VW passat pulled into the yard in front of the office.  Hot dust filled the air and two men got out.  The driver was a big black fella and Sister Marie was right about him. Hi hand went to his gun as he got out of the car and he was looking all around him.  However there is no point looking if you cannot see and he did not take in the builders, even though the sight of a load of white mnen working on a roof in this knech of the woods was as rare as rocking horse shit.  Idiot.

The white bloke was about 40, and had the look of a man who lives in the city.  He was wearing Rohan clothes to show the world he was a serioyus traveller.  They might be impressed in Fulhan, Chelsea and Heathrow, but not here.

As arranged Sister Marie remained inside and BF and Bob approached them from the office where they had been mending a wonky bench.  Myself and Geordie came from behind them.  BF moved in on the black fella who was suddenly seemed aware that something was not as it should be and his hand was back towards his gun.  Too little too late.  BFs right hand shot out and up in a chin jab.  The palm of his hand struck the drivers throat and the rest of hand pushed forward and up into he jaw  and  his head shot back taking his weight over his heels.  He went down flat on his back like a sack of spuds.  I think the kick ploughed into his face before he had actually hit the dirt, but either way this was one geezer who was not getting up to carry on fighting.  Geordie was in on him kneeling on the side of his head with his full weight  which would prevent him doing much if he had been capable of doing anything. He was relieved of his gun and secured.

The white bloke jolted at the quick attack and actually let out a little squeak.  Bobs scythe kick caught him just behind the knees, his legs buckled and he went head first to the floor with his arms out stretched in a hopeless attempt to either fly or break his fall.  The second kick caused his head to look like a football.

Both men were disabled and secured before they could say yo ho ho.

They were dragged to their passatt and the driver was dumped in to the boot and the other bloke was bundled into the back because we wanted a chat whilst we relaocated them.  We left the two little Kias but took our  pickup and mini bus and headed out of town.

It was a hot uncomfortable day for a drive, but it took bloody ages before we found a suitable location for our final chat.

To cut a long story short our English friend was a journalist.  He had read about Joseph on this blog and thought it would be a good idea to find him and do a piece on him.

He recruited an individual as a driver, who being from Zimbabwe said he could verify the authenticitry of Josephs story.  Our journalist friend either didn’t think ordidn’t  care about just how this person could or would do that in a country where only those connected to president Bob got access to such information.

No he was a journalist after a story and he didn’t give a shit about the aftermath of what he was doing or who got hurt as a result.

Having listened to the journalists high handed moral arguement that he was after all only doing his job and it was not his fault if in the search for the truth and his story if people got hurt.

We could see his point, we understood and then explained that we too were only doing our job.

Hurt is a very personal thing,  and when it is you that is suffering, well you can be forgiven for not quite seeing it in such a detached way. As I said like the journalist we had a job to do which was to protect our little boy and in doing so people would get hurt in this case it was going to be  him and his thug buddy.

I feel optimistic that the man from Harare will never pose threat to our little lad again, well not in this life anyway.

As for the Journalist, well he will get over it, although he had a long walk back to town as his car had gone on fire and I have no doubt the walk would not be too pleasant with no snappy clothes, shoes and sore feet.

We got back to the home and saw sister Marie.  She asked no questions we told no lies expect to make sure Joseph was OK.  An hour or so later all the kids were back and we saw out boy.  He has grown and is full of life and energy and his new teeth look good.

That evening we sat down with these kids and watched The Snowman.  They sat and watched with wide eyes and open mouths at something they are never likely to see or experience, but they are children and gthe human being can imagine and escape from wherever it finds itself trapped.  At the end of the film they stood up and clapped and cheered and then went running round with their arms outstretched pretending to be snowmen.

The next day we finished our jobs and it would soon be time to leave.  Just before we were due to go I was called into the office by Sister Marie.  Joseph was there.

“Go on Joseph” said sister Marie.

Joseph looked down at the floor.

“Hey up son what’s the problem” I asked

He looked at me and said “Mister Norman” he blurted “Would you be my father please, not my real father I know he is dead and that he is in heaven and looks down on me and makes sure I am all right, but my father on Earth until you know we see each other again.”

“Joseph I would be honoured to be your father” His serious little face split into a huge smile and he jumped up with his arms in the air. I picked him up and held him to me and his wooly head rested on my should and nestled against my face.

We spent the rest of the day doing dad and son things  and it was the best Christmas present I could have been given.  We did what seems like loads of stuff,  which even included being chased by a rather mangy looking dog, but In wont bore you with that except to say the boy laughed like a drain.

And then it was time to go.  I said good bye to sister Marie and then Joseph he gave me a big hug and I gave him a kiss on his forehead.  He rubbed it and said “That felt nice” and then took my face in his hand and bent my head down towards him and kissed my forehead.

“See you soon son” I said

“Ok father”

“You can call me dad if you like”

He looked thoughtful then smiled “OK dad”

The children lined up to wave us off and just as we were about to go they all held hands and started singing the tune of the snowman or at least their version of it.

The best gifts dont need wrapping paper or ribbons.

And Jeff, should you ever try this again we will not be so understanding next time.  Nice house by the way and I hope you like the card and your kids enjoy watching the DVD as much as they did.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Staying Safe – Post script

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Thank you for the positive response and all the emails  to this little series.  I am really sorry I cannot answer questions at the moment and I am also sorry for the typos and if some of the text does not quite make sense.  If there is something you dont understand email me or place a comment. As a friend of mine is going to try to edit what I have written and maybe add some photos to make this clearer.

There is obviuosly a keen interest in this subject and people want easy to follow techniques.  These are easy techniques, but I am not so sure I have described them very well.

I am leaving today on a job and  I hope to be back around the 22nd or 23rd December.

In the meantime try these moves and stay safe.

Be lucky boys hope to see you all there as arranged.

UN

Staying Safe 4- Defensive moves 3,4 & 5

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

We have looked at two initial low key moves and now need to consider how to deal with a more aggressive antagonist.

All three of these actions are really designed to allow you to put the aggressor on the floor and remove yourself from danger.

FACE CLAW OR TIGER CLAW

This simple yet effective technique was developed during the second world war by British Commandos.  It was and still is a very very effective move because it is very simple to execute and yet the results are top notch.

In one line you grab your opponents face with your open left hand dig your fingers into the flesh and push back.  The harder you push back the more you will hurt him and if you do it hard enough you will push his head over his heels and he will fall backwards.

People do not expect it and they just do not know how to deal with it.  The second thing is that by pushing the attackers face back it immediately breaks their posture, balance, and their train of thought.

You may not realise this, but reaching forward and grabbing someone’s face and pushing it back is one of the most natural gross-motor movements your body knows how to do.  I know its not the sort of thing we do evry day at Tescos or Sainsburys, even though we might feel like, but the majority of our most natural actions are related to defending ourselves.

Add the clawing motion transforms a simple “face push” into a devastating technique.

It doesn’t sound much but it is not pleasant.  Dont believe me? well get someone to do it to you and might change your mind.  Now if you add aggression and the desire to defend yourself to the push and claw.

If you do this hard the palm of the hand near to the wrist will strike the attacker in the mouth and smash his lips into his teeth whilst the upper part of the palm hit his nose.

The advantage of an open handed palm strike to the face over a traditional punch is that you do not run the risk of breaking your hand or being injured by the target’s hard head or  teeth.  Plus the heal of the hand is all muscle where as the fist is unprotected bone and it will hurt him more.

It is a simple yet effective technique to create distance between you and your assailant, which will give you time to escape or to continue your counter attack.

It can be done quickly, naturally, and repetitively with effective results.  If all you did was Tiger Claw an assailant or group of attackers that will often be good enough.

EDGE OF HAND

I do NOT recommend teaching the techniques to boys under 18 and especially this move as it is particularly easy to execute and yet so powerful.  The trouble is that when someone is made aware of it, the find it hard to resist the temptation to use it.

This move is second nature to us and is an extension from the basic finger jab, except there is the sweeping movement of the hand.  It is such an easy move to do and demonstrate, but I am not sure it is that easy to describe, but here goes

Everyone knows what a Karate chop is, well this is a more fluid version of that.

Like  a karate chop you hit your opponent with the outside edge of the hand and arm ie little finger down to the elbow.  Your strike zones is above the collar bone.

A Karate chop is fairly rigid but the edge of hand is just a fluid sweeping or hacking motion at your opponent. Unlike the Karate chop It does not have to be a down wards chopping movement but can be a series of weeping blows.  Using both hand it is really easy to land a barrage of blows very quickly around the head and neck.

Should you find yourself trading blows with somebody this will also act as an aggressive blocking method.

It is a pretty simple movement and I suspect you all know the sort of thing I am talking about, but i will take you through it just in case.

Blade your body ie left side forward with you hands in front of your genitals.  Now raise your left arm so that it is straight out and fully extended and then bend it at the elbow to 90 degrees so that the left forearm is parallel to your chest.  Your hand should between shoulder.    Now simply bring the hand forward again so the your arm is now straight.   In order to becaom straight it has to make an arc and it is this arcing motion that creates the blow.

That is the basic movement.

You alternate  between using the left and right arm and move forwards quickly as you are doing this.  Aiming at the throat neck and face.

If you want to test the effectiveness of this simply put your right hand in front of you and chop at it  with the left and you will feel the force in the hand being struck.  Now imagine that hitting you in the face or throat.

You can curl your fingers slightly to make a sort of small fist, but it is better if you don’t.

Lordy please be careful you don’t hit the nasty wicked wobber or thug  in the throat with this because it could really hurt him and we wouldn’t want that now would we.

Now one point mind you should only use this and the next move if in immediate fear of attack.  If asked afterwards you were in immediate fear of attack and feared for your safety.

As I have said this is not a one chop defence, this is time for you to get stuck in and attack this bloke and really send the blows in with both hands whilst moving forward with fierce determination.  Don’t be a wus at this point, this bastard has threatened you and stepped outside the civilised box and in essence has thrown away his get out of jail free card.

Scything motions are good but you need to be controlled and focused not flapping about like a seagull with an injured wing. Be warned If you chop down you should not consider striking hard down on the collar bone, the near the neck as this is likely to break the collar bone and that would be very unfriendly. Although of course in the heat of battle you may well forget this and sadly accidents do happen.

It is a simple move so keep it simple strike above collar bone and take the attack to the attacker.  Now then when you do this your heart rate will drop but his will go up and he will start to loose the ability to think properly.  His Adrenalin will kick in and his flight or fight mode will be fully activated.  Hit him hard enough in the face quickly an dhe will not want to stay too long.  However if he does we employ the fight finisher which is the chin jab.

CHIN JAB

The “Chin-Jab” is considered by some to be the most destructive technique in martial arts and has one objective which is to put the other bloke down on his back.

The chin-jab is the fight finisher and is used after a solid series of jabs, tiger claws, kicks, and edge of hand blows, so that your attacker is staggering backwards.

The chin jab pushes the head back over the opponents heals so that he looses his balance and all he can do is fall backwards.  It is usually delivered with such force that a knockout often results.

A word of warning and I am being very serious here, the chin-jab is so powerful that there is no way to practice the move full force. It is banned from combat sport, and even in full protective training gear it can kill.

It is unlikely you will find this move being taught in normal martial arts.

So how does it work? very simply you move forward very quickly into your opponents space and taking your RIGHT hand you drive it forward and slightly upwards into his throat or chin.  When you come into contact with the chin/throat you push through and down so that you your hand has made a sort of arc.  This will snap his head back  over his heals and the continued motion will force him backwards and down to the ground.  When he is on the ground what you do is your decision.

Now then at the point where your hand is in contact with the chin your arm between the wrist and elbow should be against his chest, but don’t worry too much if it isn’t.

To practice this   ONLY DO IT SLOWLY and put your left hand in the small of your training partners back to support them as you push GENTLY against their chin.

You can vary the moves  slightly by putting you hand behind his back or by stepping past him and putting you right leg behind him and then striking him with your right hand.  This will reduce the impact of the blow but will still put him on the floor and is a safer move, If you just want an obnoxious drunk on the floor use this modified move.    This is more complex and need to be practiced.

The chin jab will hurt your opponent.  Try this little exercise.  Put the palm of your open hand acuouple of inches under you chin and then move it upowards NOT TOO HARD so the palm strikes your bottom jaw.  Now imagine that being done in anger of fear

Always bear in mind that our objective here is always to be able to remove your self from the place of conflict to a place of safety immediately.   Using the edge of hand and chin jab it is highly likely you opponent will end up on the floor and may well be injured.  That is not your problem.

In other words for Gods sake do not be tempted to stand there admiring your handy work.  Piss off out of it.

Staying safe 3 – Defensive Move 1 & 2

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

I am going to deal with a series of moves which escalate in severity.

They are all what are called gross motor movements and these are things you can do instinctively.  Wrist locks and the like are complex motor movements.  The trouble is that when under stress or frightened your heart rate goes up really quickly and most people will hit 175 beats per minute in the the blink of an eyes.  The problem here is that the majority of people loose the ability to carry out complex movements at around 145 beats per minute.  Unless you are very fit, well trained and disciplined you wont even be able to put the keys into your car ignition at 145 bpm, so how the hell are you going to do some fancy jujitsu?

Now you need to stay calm and keep your breathing regular and controlled so that you can focus on what is happening.  This takes me back to why I dripped on about not dashing about and being too stressed.  If you weren’t stressed before you will be when in a confrontation.  Your heart will be pounding in your chest, your breathing will be shallow your tummy will feel tight because you are human.   It is fine to be scared but what you need to do is try to keep these physical reactions to your situation to a minimum.

Confidence will help with this.

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The Finger Dart or Finger Jab

I mentioned the exclusion zone ie an arms length.

Now as soon as your aggressor comes in to the exclusion zone their intentions are probably not honourable and you are going to have to make them rethink.  Some people say that you hit first, hit fast hit hard, but I couldn’t possibly comment on that!

The Finger Dart or jab is one of the most basic tactics in defending yourself.

It is not intended to cause damage to your assailant but to stop disorient, and hopefully discourage further forward movement from an assailant.  By stopping him you have the chance to escape or to move forward and to deal with him.

So standing left side on hands across your lap The finger jab is just a quick “flick” or “Jab” to the face with your left hand.  You are trying to land this to the nose or eyes.  It doesn’t sound much, but nobody likes being flicked in the face and the other person will usually recoil out of your exclusion zone puts distance between you and them.

Another thing is that because you have now extended your left arm this pulls the left side of your body forward and naturally forces you to “blade” you body more (removing all your vital organs from frontal attack), and immediately puts you in an offensive state.

The attacker moves backwards and in reality you are going to follow him keeping that arms length distance.  If needs be jab him again.

Believe it or not, many times the Finger Dart is enough to stall even the most obnoxious gobby drunk in a social situation. Trust me, NOBODY likes being flicked in the face and becasue the Finger Dart is so fast, so instinctual, and so effective that you can chalk it up to an accidental reflex when the drunken yob is doubled over whining about how you poked him in the eye.

For a slightly more intense version of this a rolled up newspaper or magazine (ouch) is very effective.

In the sitautions we find ourselves in the Finger Jab is effective as it forcibly stops the attackers forward movement and allows you to begin your own move forward and barrage of attacks with other strikes which we will come on to.

The Kick

 Moving on from the finger dart or jab is the Front Kick or Whip Kick.

You might be able to get away with Finger Jabbing somebody who has come a bit too close by making some excuse of it being an accident or some kind of nervous twitch as they hold their eye in agony, but when you kick somebody there is no way on this earth that you can make such a claim and so the fight is on.

Luckily, the Front Kick is already second nature to you.

Simply lift up your leg and whack him in the shin, groin, leg, wherever (with gross motor technique, any target is a good target) with a natural, whipping motion.  Personally I go for the kness or shins.

When doing the kick it is importand that the blow is delivered downwars on your opponents centre line which will give you forward momentum. To get this right lift the left leg so the foot is about knee high extend the leg forwards sufficiently to hit your aggressors knee or leg  and stamp down in front of you.  By trying to describe this I am making it sound harder than it really is.

I must strees that it is important that you follow through the downwards movement so that you left foot finishes on the ground ahead of where you started and that you keep your left side on to them and do not be tempted at this stage to move your right side forward.  You need your right foot to be behind you for balance and to help propel you.

How often do people say about kneeing someone in the balls and they demonstrate by lifting their knee up so it goes forward and then back down to where it started from.  This leaves them, standing on one leg like a frigging stork.   Their balance is wrong and they are easy meat to be sent sprawling backwards by anyone who knows what they are doing.  You must avoid doing the same, every strike, kick and blow must take you forwards.

On its own on ekick  will not send some 6 foot six prop crashing to the deck, but that combined with the finger jab will stop the advance of somebody being a pest and will put you in the position of being able to take put the confrontation on your terms.

The Finger Jab  and Kick combination is only an opening gambit to to stop your opponent from advancing and open them up for you to escape or put him downwhich ever you feel happier with.  Personally I think  if they are down they are less of a continuing danger as they are less likely to come after you.

So there you go. If you’ve ever wanted to know what to do when someone enters your airspace and you need to send a stern message while keeping your attack options open, the Finger jab combined with Front Kicks need to become your best friend.

Practice these on your own or with a friend and colleague, but dont get carried away.   If you dont have a training partner practice the finger jab with your sahddow on the wall and the kick can be practised with anything.  Cahirs and walls are good enemies becasue they dont move and dont hit back.

Staying Safe 2 – Being Confronted and Your Stance

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

HTML clipboardIn the next few lessons I will tell you some very basic moves.  I am assuming you are right handed.  Obviously if you are left handed just swap where I say left for right.

If you end up in a physical confrontation the overriding objective is to move forward never backwards and to put your attacker backwards and onto the floor.  If he is on the floor you can do a number of things to ensure he wont get up or you can gracefully retire.

OK so despite our best efforts we find ourselves confronted by some bonehead who looks hell bent on causing trouble or stealing.

If you are being robbed the important thing to remember is that things are just that, things.  They can be replaced, but people can’t.  Be sensible damged pride and indignation mend quicker than injuries.  Trust me I really know what I am talking about here.

This is a flight or fight situation.  Flight is always the first option. If you can move to a safe area where there are other people and make as much noise as you can.  In other words always consider running away screaming.

I could tell you how to disarm a bloke with a knife and do this that and the other but I wont.

The reason I wont is that this is a very basic course and it will probably never happen.  If you run off screaming put yourself in the position of the mugger,  are going to run after someone who is screaming?  If your answer is yes then I strongly advise you do not think about becoming a career criminal.

Seriously its a bad situation being threatened with a knife.  If you cannot escape to a safe place then hand over your money.  Better to be a live coward than a dead hero.

Now I know there are a lot of people who are going to say you can do this and that and so and so, but the truth is that unless you practice those moves day in day out you will just get hurt or killed.  Remember the whole point of defence is to stay alive.  As I said damaged pride and dignity etc just doesn’t come into it.

In almost every situation ordinary people find themselves in,  there is a build up which starts with a confrontation followed by the  threat and lastly an attack.

There are two important  things in the initial stages of a confrontation.  Distance and Stance

DISTANCE

Keep distance between you and the aggressor.  An arms length is the minimum.  If you keep this distance no matter what threats they make they cannot actually hit you.  In order to attack they have to come towards you and into the exclusion zone, if they do that then they are in play.  The distance allows you to watch your agressor and gives you just that litle bit of extra time to react to their moves.

STANCE

For the most part you are going to use your left hand for the initial moves not your right.   The mistake most people make is that they lead with their right not the left.  Look at boxers, they all jab with their right and reserve the right hand for killer blows, as the right arm is stronger.

You need to move your feet and adjust your stance so that you are not stand square on but standing  left side on, with your arms across your abdomen and your hands together in front of your genitals.  A bit like a footballer in a wall facing a free kick, but you don’t have to pull the ridiculous face, in fact if you do it really won’t help the situation.

This stance is known as blading and refduces the target area for an attacker and will allow you to protect your vital organs and keep your hands and arms  free to  move so you can block and strike at the aggressor.  It will also allow you to keep your balance and to propel yourself forward when you engage them.