In the late 1970s, my mother in law watched the wresting every Saturday afternoon. She loved every shout, every grunt, every grimace of pain from the screen. Yes, I would watch as well, fascinated at the ability of the wrestlers to inflict so much apparent pain without requiring medical attention. She would sit in her armchair, cup of tea (no sugar), two cream cakes, right hand slowly taking the crumbs to her mouth as her attention was riveted on the tv screen.

mick-mcmanusThen one day the travelling wrestling circus came our way in South London, and a ticket was purchased for me so I could accompany my wife, her aunt, and her blood-thirsty mother. The only reason I was invited was so I could be their chauffeur, and we were seated at least half an hour before it was due to start, in prominent seats in the second row. The support bouts were okay, but somewhat dull, and then the main act appeared – Mick McManus and Les Kellett, who were both particular favourites of mother in law. She sat there with a ferocious look of anticipation on her face, arms crossed over her generous chest, handbag on her lap, right hand through the strap so it couldn’t fall off and be lost under her copious skirts.

After a while I was stupid enough to allow my boredom to show, and started making loud comments to my wife, who was sitting next to me.

‘This is a fix’.

‘They know what’s coming next’.

‘Whose turn is it to win’.

‘They never hurt each other’.

The two wrestlers looked at each other, stopped the bout, and leaned over the top rope, staring at me.

‘If it’s a fix, why don’t you come in the ring, then you’ll see’ said Mick McManus.

‘If we never hurt each other, then come up here and see how much it hurts’ said Les Kellett.

They were both looking at me.

‘No, no, that’s all right, carry on lads, sorry, didn’t mean anything, just saying something to the wife. Promise I won’t say anything else again’.

Mother in law by this stage was crying with laughter uncontrollably, as her son in law collapsed ignominiously.

The two men looked at each other, turned their backs with contempt, and continued with their bout. I said nothing further.