JJ Goes to the Wrestling.
Now this is stretching back almost thirty years so there could be a few gaps and/or licentious liberties but I'll try to keep it straight.
On alternate Tuesday evenings they held Wrestling at our local Civic Hall and my old man was a huge fan so he would take us all along regularly. Mum never went though, somehow this macho shit didn't appeal to her. I didn't understand that at the age of 9 but I think I do now (no, really I mean that, I'm in touch with my squidgy side these days). Thirty years on I managed to drag Girlfriend to see The Revenge of the Sith at Toison d'or even knowing that that was her equivalent my mum going to the Wrestling. So I got one up one the old twat.
Those were the days of Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, Kung Fu, Dynamite Kid, Rollerball Rocco and so on. Catweazel will always be an old time wrestler to me.
It was just a regular thing for us until uncle J came to visit from India. Then it turned into a whole Roman Gladiator kind of deal. We were buying posters, badges, magazines, hanging in the bar to meet the wrestlers, it got completely out of hand.
One guy, who I'll never forget, was called Kendo Nagasaki, he used to come on stage in a black cloak with a leather/chrome mask accross his face carrying a Samurai sword. When the match started he would have a black fabric mask with white stripes. He didn't lose a match in fifteen years. The idea was that if another wrestler beat him up so badly he could rip his mask off he'd have to reveal his identity. This went on and on and we all wondered about this mysterious oriental man and his strange secrets, "Why can't he be beaten?" He was almost beaten a few times but managed to get himslef disqualified instead or cheated his way out.
Eventually, he retired undefeated, there was an unmasking ceremony at our Civic Hall but somehow we missed it and had to watch it on tv on Saturday afternoon World of Sport. His manager took the mask off and placed it in a ceremonial fire. The wierd thing was he just looked like an ordinary white dude. At that age I was just learning that people who look real on tv aren't always real, Kendo taught me a lesson.
He did some fights without the mask but it was never the same for me and I gradually lost interest. Later he came back with the mask on but the whole wrestling thing was dying out, we'd stopped going, Kent Walton died, Pat Roach went off to do Auf Wiedersein Pet, they took wrestling off the air and eventually World of Sport gave way to Grandstand. Des Lynam did a good impression of Dickie Davies but it turned to mush after he left.
There was an Indian wrestler called Tiger Singh, he runs a pub in Leeds now, I've been there. To Leeds and to the Pub. Not that I made a trip of it, I lived in Leeds and just wandered into his pub one day. He wasn't there but the people talked about him like he was a legend, I thought "obviously none of you ever saw him fight" and then I left (I was on the way to a band practice)
Obviously I live my life like a masked Kendo Nagasaki; undefeatable, unfathomable, inpenetrable. The reality is that I'm just an ordinary brown dude.