Andrew Hennessey


Norman and Benny Albright were twins. They were twins in the traditional way in that they were both into the same hobbies as each other and competed in the world of Stamp collecting and Judo.

Both were athletic and good at field sports such as hockey and rugby and both had a blistering turn of speed on the sprint, easily turning in a ten point something 100 metres.


Unfortunately, one of their hobbies was to present me with the feeling that I was not worth the paper that I was printed on – which was simply par for the course for my own schooldays which could have rewritten and redefined the definition of bullying as an opportunity to measure how much half the school weighed at any one given time in terms of the metric ton.

The song 'its raining men' from a later era, may well be based on such experiences, but in the era of heavy rock, the gift of life needed to be exercised with some caution.

Hence I ran the chess team and became school champion at a sport with less obvious hands on interference – beating Norman at chess quite regularly and indeed most of the rest of the school.


Norman and Benny were influential, for having beaten both of them in a ten point something 100 metres, on the sports field, the race was at their insistence declared invalid and had to be 'run again' till I was properly beaten.


As a field hockey player I was a rather efficient left sided forward with a good scoring record and could nip in on breakdown situations coming in behind a right sided attack and volleying in.

I got two in the Scottish Schools Cup like that against Grangemouth.

Grangemouth High being next to the Oil refinery were obviously a refined school, as their pitch was covered in a white powder, the fall out from those nights that the local sky turns green.


Next fixture up in the Scottish Schools League was Bo'ness Academy

at Hawkhill ground.

The match bullies off on the centre spot and the centre forward wins the ball and slips it immediately left to me.

Their whole team is behind the ball and no-one has yet arrived to support a forward move.

I'm standing on the centre line across the field and I'm marked by their right sided forward who I run past, heading down the left channel and already halfway into their half. Their immediate cover was a fast running big midfielder who was physically committed momentum wise to a stop and intercept tackle from the side– a sort of slam dunk, but I put the ball beyond his incoming body and accelerate through his line of travel leaving him trailing and going the wrong way.

Next up the Bo'ness right back who came charging out which was a bad move because he had committed himself before he knew which way I was going to turn, so I twisted my angle of run and sent the ball through him leaving him needing to stop and turn and give chase and then there was only the keeper to beat.

I had not yet made my turn to come into the centre of the goal area and was still in the left channel so the goalkeeper came out slowly, positioning himself, waiting, knowing that I would have to try to shoot or dribble round him.

I decided to shoot, but knew that the keeper would attempt to position himself to cover his far left post (my right) by reading my body angle as I went to line up the ball with my stick, so I kept my stick and ball quite close to my feet and pretended to line up a shot a foot or so the keepers left whilst I got myself into effective range.

This worked because the keeper decided, on reading my body language, that he had that left post covered and moved further to his right to cover a possible dribble on his right.

What he didn't know however was that there was actually about four feet to his left not one, and I suddenly twisted around the ball to drive for the target and shot home.

It was a solo goal to grace any league.


The silence from captain Norman though was deafening.


The next game we had we were playing some public school from somewhere. These guys were big. They had to be eating their Porridge oats. The average height had to be six and a half. I was six feet.

They were well built, fast, tackled hard and hit hard.

We couldn't get moving because they were all over us and there was not one foot of space or one moment of time on the ball from one minute to another in that game.

They operated as a proper team should, they moved up and down the park as an organised unit and if ever they needed to remake the Raptor scene in Jurassic Park – just put these guys in the suits.

This modus operandii didn't really suit my playing style which really needed a bit of movement and organised mayhem and add to that fact that I was man-marked it was obvious that this was going to be an unusually hard game.


Norman gets the ball on the centre spot from his centre half position and thinking that I might be on for a pass I drag my marker out to the left field and forward, but Norman doesn't pass in behind him for me to move onto.

Instead, Norman has other plans.


Norman starts walking forward with the ball, slowly inching it forward with his stick, as if an invitation to the half dozen raptors in his vicinity.

Without much more of an invite than that .. in come the raptors, tackle, tackle, chop, tackle, chop, hack, clunk, tackle, chop and not one of the half dozen vigorously hacking monster schoolboys could get their stick on the ball.

There had to be several tackles coming in every other second and it looked like whatever Norman had had for breakfast that morning wasn't being served up at my house.

Next in the middle of all this blur of stickwork, Norman has made several yards forward in the last twenty very busy seconds and I again start thinking that perhaps he is going to do the wise thing and pass it .. because after all the entire flock of raptors were queuing up around him and they were several raptors deep. These B Movie heroics had created some space for the rest of the team.

Alas no, for although I tried to get some sort of angle on my marker by moving further left, Norman suddenly changed his direction, and, flock of tackling, hacking, blocking, chopping raptors in tow, who all the time were doing what B-Movie martial arts look like after the editing – started to walk directly towards me.

Not one of his assailants over the space of thirty or more seconds could get the ball off him, though not for want of trying.

Several tackles broken every other second and he's bringing the ball, in his own time, slowly, straight over to me and no-one else.

This stuff makes human International and Olympic Hockey standards look sleepy and this is on a bumpy, muddy, grass pitch.

Finally, Norman arrives, ignoring the opposition and my marker and stands face to face with me to the total exclusion of the game.

OK then Andrew, you take it from here.

At that point he turned around and walked away, abandoning the attack and leaving me with the ball .. and then the Raptors descended on me …


With the natural order of supremacy so adeptly restored by these superhuman efforts it became possible to see that Norman and Benny Albright were rather unusual. Indeed another set of Albright twins, this time female, black haired and from a different family who had uncannily similar straight-featured faces were in the year below. They might well have been some sort of strange but alien co-incidence.


Norman and Benny were just progressing from their Judo brown belts making good time up the competition ladder and were about to sit their first Dan Black Belt exam.

Boys being boys, there was a big scene of people learning Karate, Kung Fu and Judo, and who regularly re-enacted swashbuckling movies with school fencing equipment.

In the quiet of the lunch hour, in between bouts with the school bully, a local wresting champion at the Leith gymnasium, I had a gap in my busy schedule to respond to the invite of one of the Chinese guys who was doing Kung Fu.

The school cloakroom first floor was quiet at the time and the guys was anxious to show me one of his Kung Fu moves.

Make like you have a knife he said … and come at me … well, er .. ok then … so I brandished a knife like object at him .. and before I could say Jackie Chan he had kicked it out of my hand and returned his foot to its resting position. I never saw one bit of that kick, not a blur, no motion whatsoever.

Whatever had just taken place had taken place faster than I had any capacity to recognise. The kind actions of this being had alerted me to the fact that human beings weren't the only kind of beings that go to school.


Another lunch hour with some down time, along comes Norman and he has Ewan with him. Ewan later trains and joins the SAS, (not quite 100% with handgun with his left hand) but not before giving me a bit of pinewood to chop through as part of my don't do karate thing.


Norman, training for his blackbelt wants to show Ewan some stuff and wants to introduce me to the world of Judo. I could have said no, but the time about to be spent in the big gymnasium in the school annexe made today's bullying more interesting.

I hadn't done any Judo before and maybe I could learn a bit about break falls and some principles of balance that could help me in my lunchtime Mortal Kombat bouts with Leith's champion wrestler.


We went to the annexe and I got changed into helpfully supplied Judo kit with my white belt, and there were some mats out.

Norman wore his competition badges and brown belt.

In the ceiling high above, the tube lights cast a glaring light in the big old gymnasium.


The principle of Judo has a lot to do with; balance, counter balance, turning one's opponents energies against themselves, leverage and as such there is a lot of pushing and pulling, displacement and momentum manipulation.

Norman and I faced up with grips on sleeves.

Not knowing exactly what to push or pull or what sort of systematic thing I could do that would give me any kind of result, I was a bit baffled at exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

No problem though, because without any pushing or pulling, or weight movement or falling forward or weight imbalance and indeed from a neutral standing start, suddenly beyond my capacity to understand or recognise, I was upside down  fully extended and seven foot in the air with my feet all the way up fifteen feet into the happy school lights and then crashing down on the mats below.

I was thrown by the arms by a standing opponent in the upright position.

I realised that getting the break-fall training module wasn't the point of this exercise when Ewan announces; 'a Full Ippon'.


What had just happened had not only broken the laws of Judo but also the laws of physics as well.


For me the main issue is the compromise of my humanity.

Clearly all this sports stuff and martial arts garbage out there in the world is just making a fool of people like myself.

Obviously the place has its fair share of imposters messing about in human infrastructure for no human reason.

These people can do absolutely anything they want – for nothing appears physically impossible to them.

All the human sports science, and systematic training and diets, the devoted and dedicated routines, the hard learning and circuit training, and all this sitting for months in a freezing cave in the Chinese mountains learning the way of the insectoid grasshopper just seemed like a load of old Bull.

Although my ten point something 100 metres was good to go thirty years ago .. its obvious that there are plenty of people about that don't suffer from these limitations.

Just what they are all playing at though is anybody's guess … maybe just having a laugh.


Alien Norman and Benny became Supermart managers.



Popular Posts