But at least I know what kicked this one off!
There I was, happily ambling home at something like 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning when I heard a vehicle approaching from behind me. I have reasonably good hearing (for some things, my 'filters' tend to be a bit naff though) for a 'doddering codger' close to mid-50s. Any way, I was approaching a junction and from the sound the vehicle was making I knew it was slowing, presumbaly to turn into the road I was about to cross. Me, being me, also knew without looking that it was not that close and I'd be across the road well before it turned in. Turns out I was half right (actually 2/3rds, kinda!) - the vehicle (a people carrier) was slowing, I made it across teh road before it got there. That's where I went wrong. It didn't turn off, it slowed down and stopped just around next to where I was walking down the pavement (a wide verge so there was around a 5' or 6' gap). I glanced at it as the memory from before surfaced and kept a weather eye open. It stopped as I kept on walking. There was the driver that I coud see and no-one else. Then after about 5 to 10 seconds of being halted it started off again.
The memory it kicked off was from around 35 years back. I and a friend, Graeme, were walking back from the pub (making it just past 23:00), with neither of us were the 'worse for wear'. As we passed a major cross-roads just outside the main part of town I noticed a biker having problems with his bike. I told Graeme that as a fellow biker I was 'honour bound' to at least ask if I could help so diverted from our path to head north (we had been going west) to have a chat with the biker. It turns out it was someone I had gone to primary school with which was a strange and pleasant surprise (can't now recall his name, sadly). Further it also turns out my mum had, in the past, found his wallet in the road and handed it in (of course, complete with all the contents!). After a few minutes (probably a bit longer than Graeme or I had reckoned on) Graeme cam pelting past, shouting "run!" The biker and I excahnged confused looks, and then both looked back south wehn another voice said in a slightly threatening tone, "do you know him?" Ever glib, silver-tongued and having a stunning command of the language I, without hesitation replied, "er, no ...?" Followed by a softer-voiced, "oh shit" and promptly truned tail and set of in pursuit of Graeme. No idea, at all, what the biker thought of all this. I just know (from what happened) he did not suffer.
What followed was a bit of a farce. There were roughly four of them (it was dark and just a little scary so I was not stopping to get my abacus out!), all seeming to be ready to be rugby prop forwards, and in a car of some form. That was the bad news.
The good news seemed to be that they had had far more to drink than Graeme and I. So they kept on pulling to a halt in their car at the point along the road that we were currently at (see why the memory kicked in?). Of course, by the time they'd got out we had covered quite a lot of ground (I was a middle distance runner amd Graeme was no slouch either, plus we both were being fueled by adrenalin). Somehow, I am not quite sure how, we had managed to double back to the cross-roads and set off back in the 'proper' direction toward where Graeme lived (even if it was quite a few minutes running away).
They pulled the stop, get out, chase a little, get back in the car, rinse repeat, wax on, wax off trick a few times before it looked like they'd finally nailed it and could possibly bracket us. We veered off the pavement and up the gravel driveway of a house, round the back and ... straight into the obscenely tall brick wall. Rats! Scalable -just, maybe, but probably not in time for both of us to avoid the thugs behind us.
So we took to knocking on the back door (knocking - probably thumpng with intent to demolish!) Time plays silly tricks with both distance and adrenaline and stuff, so somewhere along the line we were all gathered - the reasonably aged people who ran the old people's home that we had ducked round and the thugs who had been chasing us. Strange as it may seem the owners were not that keen on us being there and 'threatened' to call the police. Graeme and I jumped on that suggestion with keeness and alacrity! As did the thugs in a "go on then, we'll get this all sorted out" offended braggard way. Whilst one of the couple (probably the wife?) went to phone it became clear why they had been chasing us. Well, when I say clear ... their excuse was they had been happily driving along when, as they passed the cross-roads, Graeme had pulled out a pistol and shot at their car. After a few incredulous looks and not a few muttered comments they moderated that to 'threw a stone'.
After the person who phonedf the police came back to say that that is what they had done the thugs spent a few minutes continuing to posture and threaten, then slunk off.
Now it gets really stupid. Yiu know all those films in which someone gets up in the middle of the night and decides to check out the house, 'just in case'? Usually not bothering to take a light, baseball bat, or anything of use with them (usually just the nightwear they are flimsily garbed in)? Well guess who decided to walk back round the front of the house to see if the thugs were still lurking? Yeah right, a point to anyone who furrowed their brow in amused disgust and pointed at me.
Muggins here scrunched his was back round the gravel to level with the front of the house. I had timed it impeccably - you coudl not make this up. Just as I got to the front of the house I heard another crunch of gravel from in front of me. 'Ahh, whoops' I thought, and turned to dash back when I spotted that the figure looming out of the gloom was none other than the friendly face of a policeman.
After explaining what had gone on and thanking the old couple profusely and apologising if we had disturbed any of their residents Graeme and I got a quick circuit round to see if we could see any evidence of the thugs. After that we got dropped off at his place and never heard another thing of it. Fun times!
It is strange, I have walked at night through Brixton in the early 80s (sort of equivalent of ambling through Harlem) and never had a problem. But leave me in the area in which I live and I have been chased and beaten up (that's another story!)