The night the EDL attacked me

A smashed beer bottle. Image: Jonathan Hordle, Rex Features

 
 

George Berridge is a 21-year-old journalist.

This week he was attacked in the street by the English Defence League.

Here is his account of what happened. It contains one example of language some might find offensive.

On Wednesday night I was punched in the face for the first time.

In the film Fight Club, Tyler Durden asks: “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

I now know that I dislike being punched in the face – and that living on scrambled eggs and soup is rubbish.

Sadly, I am yet to come to any larger moral epiphany.

I have however learned something about the tragic side of irony.

Me and two friends were assaulted by three men claiming to be from the English Defence League (or EDL): a far-right nationalist party that see it as their God-given quest to rid this country of Islam.

We were out at a local pub to celebrate my friend’s 21st birthday.

We had a couple of beers, lost some money to the pub quiz machine and played pool.

That would have been a good time to leave.

Instead, three guys come to our table. They are all very drunk.

One, who leans on the table and slurs his speech, asks what we think of the EDL.

We say they are idiots; a view shared by many.

The men ask why, claiming to be from the group.

I tell them I’ve known and heard about violence at their rallies and the way they treat journalists who report on them.

A quick online search for “EDL attack journalists” yields some proof.

Then a friend mentions I’m a journalist.

At this point the men begin to get louder and lairy.

“You’re just another lefty journo,” they say. “All you do is call us scum and thugs. All we’re trying to do is protect this country.”

We shrug and walk off to finish our drinks.

The man who went on to punch me and my friend calls me a “snob for looking down his nose at me”.

The look I had was probably more of mild bemusement.

I turn around and get punched twice in the face. I feel my nose burst.

A short while later, we begin to walk home. Not far from the pub, we cross a road and hear a car pull up fast.

I turn around and get punched twice in the face. I feel my nose burst and my tooth dislodge.

The man then starts punching my friend, who manages to defend himself somewhat better.

Another man gets out of the car to calm the first one down. My other friend tries to speak to him, but as he’s putting his bottle down, the man smashes his own bottle over my friend’s head.

Thankfully, it is at this point that another car comes by. The men jump into theirs and speed off.

One yells from the window: “You’ve just been fucked by the EDL!”

The ambulance and police arrive a few minutes later.

George Berridge

George Berridge

A collection of burst lips, bruised faces, a cracked tooth and a gash to the back of the head is the end result.

I am very grateful that we’re not worse off, thanks to the arrival of some wonderful strangers who called the police and fetched us some water.

If they hadn’t turned up, I don’t think the assault would have ended so soon.

Now, writing this with a plate of mashed banana by my side, I’m left to dwell on the nature of thuggery.

The irony of being attacked by men who just an hour earlier had berated the media’s depiction of EDL members as “thugs” is so sweet, it almost wipes the metallic taste of clotting blood from my mouth.

Of course, the group will argue that these men do not represent the whole.

The last 24 hours haven’t shown that.

Since I posted about the attack on Twitter, I’ve been flooded with kind words from people, including many Muslims.

From the EDL and a seemingly associated group called the “Casuals”, I have received no apologies.

I’ve been called a liar, I’ve been told we were “asking for it”, and that we deserved it “for playing with fire”.

Of course, the EDL should probably be thanked for defending England from three 21-year-olds on a night out.

I was told that calling someone an idiot in any pub in England would have led to flying fists.

I feel I can only offer the EDL the thought that perhaps if they experience violence in every pub they go in, maybe the pub isn’t the problem.

Intolerance and ignorance is the mindset of a group that prefers to see fists used rather than words.

As of yet I have had no proof that the labels attached to the EDL by “the lefty media” are misplaced.

From MSN News Report by George Berridge. 27.07.13.

George Berridge is a journalist, blogger and co-editor of WannabeHacks.

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