Mugged at Oxford University – 1986

Four thugs jumped me at Oxford, but I hardly suffered the Oxford blues, because I walked away with an extra $1,200. I was returning from the Bodleian Library around midnight with a book bag over my shoulder and holding a kabob in my right hand (kabob – a European taco), when four guys surrounded me and demanded my wallet. I had to act decisively, so I punched the kabob into the leaders face and sprinted for the gates of University College (the college at Oxford where I was studying). I knew they couldn’t catch me, but then one of my new Polo loafers flew off. Damn! I loved those loafers. So I turned back to asses whether I had time to retrieve it. Thought I did. I was wrong. When I stooped for the shoe, they shoved me into a stack of bicycles. The lead thug leaned in to pound me, but I grabbed his leather jacket and pulled him on top of me, with my face against his chest, shielding both sides of my head with his jacket. The guy got so frustrated that he couldn’t hit me, he struggled to get away and stood up. That was my out. I punted his crotch and again sprinted for the college gates. Remarkably, one of my professors, Bonnie Wheeler (the world’s leading authority on King Arthur) stood in the archway. As I sprinted through, she started chewing my ass thinking I was up to no good, because I was usually drunk and raising hell, so I breathlessly informed her of my reality. Then the thugs flew in. She was damn quick on her feet. In a powerful voice she announced. “The police have been called! They are pulling up now!” The thugs took off. My only harm, my madras jacket from Neiman Marcus got ripped on a bicycle. Now the story gets Great Britain weird.

The police knew exactly who the perpetrators were and begged me to ride in the back of their paddy wagon, identify them and press charges. Evidently, this was a nightly occurrence but none of the Oxford students would ever press charges fearing retribution. Well, I was going home in three weeks, so the police said if I’d press charges, the judge would accelerate the trial to the following week. And get this, I didn’t have to show up or testify. There’s no right to confront your accuser in Great Britain.

Although eager for bed, I reluctantly agreed and climbed in the back of their paddy wagon. We drove straight down High Street (the same street) and found them walking along as if nothing happened. When the police politely asked for a moment of their time – they said no and just kept walking. Remember, cops in Great Britain don’t carry guns, and it was just two cops, one female and a demure male. After a bit of this chatter while driving slowly beside them, the leader spun around and shouted that I had attacked him. Then he turned up his nose revealing a bloody mess. I’d completely overlooked the blood on my jacket. Guess I got a lucky shot in with the kabob. For a second, I thought the situation might turn on me – I did hit him first – and I was already loaded in the paddy wagon, but the police knew better. They commanded all four men to climb in the paddy wagon – with me! So the police were sitting up front, and I’m locked in the back with the muggers. Miraculously, a brawl did not erupt. The police took us to the station, took my statement, and then took me back to college. Two months later, I received a cashiers check for $1,200 and notification that Andrew Bateman was sentenced to six months in jail. The British court system greatly overvalued my Neiman Marcus jacket, but I welcomed the money and the memory – a mugging with an upside – who’du thunk?

At the Oxford Police Department that night.  00000009 (3)

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