“His name is Peter Thornley,” I told myself. “He lives in Staffordshire and runs a care home for disabled youngsters.” I knew that because he got into a dispute with a neighbour three years ago and his cover was blown in court. But it didn’t help as I stood in the ring. “Hello,” I said. He didn’t answer. I knew he wouldn’t. He just stood there staring me out from behind the mask. Scaring me.
The manager had said Nagasaki would show me a few moves. He did more than that. He stepped forward and delivered a karate chop, an explosion on my chest that made me grateful I had just learned how to fall. When I got up off the canvas he pushed my head down into an armlock and squeezed. That was when I nearly passed out.
“Had enough?” demanded the manager, but this was a (very painful) realisation of a childhood fantasy and I wasn’t giving up yet. “I’m doing this out of respect,” I said to Nagasaki. He nodded. Then he pinned me to the floor so my shoulders felt as if they were popping out. And he turned and held my foot, jamming his elbow between my calf muscle and shin bone. I banged the canvas to submit, but he held it until I screamed, “Enough.”
Nagasaki stood up, stared again, then left the ring and the room. John Ritchie seemed shocked. “I can’t believe what I just saw,” he whispered. “I thought he would show you the moves but he took you apart, didn’t he? He took a few liberties, to be honest.”
I did ask for it. But now I have the advantage over him. I went to the toilet when he had gone, and heard his voice coming through the wall. It made a huge psychological difference. The mystery was gone. He sounded … well, I’m not saying. I have just emailed an address I was given for Peter Thornley and this is what came back: “The cheeky reply would be that you had already pissed yourself and there was a wall between you and Kendo. But on a more serious note, we would suggest that Kendo’s silence be a good guide for you in this matter.” Fair enough. I’m not upsetting that man again. If you want to know what he sounds like, fight him yourself.