It happened at about one in the morning as I was settling down in my sitting room with a large brandy. The quiet was disturbed by a dreadful commotion of yelling and screaming of obscenities from the street. I should say I live in a solid middle-class suburb which gets the occasional drunken yob walking through on the way to the council estate further out of town.
Outside, a fully loaded wheelie bin had been overturned, and a woman householder was struggling with a skinny feral female of about twenty, who was pulling her hair and kicking and generally fighting her in an ineffective but thoroughly unpleasant way.
I am in good shape for a (very) late 40's guy, and have been training in Tae Kwon Do for two years, so I felt confident that I could handle the situation. I shoved myself between the two of them, shielding the householder with my body, and pushing the girl away with my palms. Then I noticed, lurking at the side of the road, a weasel-faced scrawny little male of about the same age, and it occured to me that unless I was very careful, I would have two of them to deal with. Certainly if I launched a punching or kicking attack on the girl he was sure to attack me.
There are no police here at night, it takes them a good 15 minutes to get here, supposing they are not all out on calls. I had just walked out into the street the way I was, not changing my slippers for hard-soled shoes, not bringing my mobile phone to summon the police, not picking up my son's hockey stick that is parked by the front door. The brandy I had abandoned was the third of the evening, and followed half a bottle of wine and a gin and tonic. This was not going to be quite the same as sparring in the club. No gumshield, groinguard, or shinpads. No referee, no rules. No idea what weapons might be produced.
After a bit more pushing and shoving, two more females came into view, who added to the chaos by yelling and screaming at me. Fortunately they didn't touch me, because with four people to deal with I had worked out that I would be lucky to survive, and to do so I would have to put at least three of them down with a knockout or serious injury, and even if I was able to do that it would put me in big trouble with the police.
Eventually I managed to fairly gently push feral girl into the arms of feral boy and told him, in as good a voice of authority as I could manage, to get her home. To my surprise he pulled her away up the road - I guess he really did not want a fight either - and after one more round of screamed obscenities the other two harpies went with them.
I watched them down the street before turning my back and going inside, hands shaking, mind racing through the what-ifs, and wondering at how my life turned inside out in the seconds it took to get out of my armchair and walk into the street.