A canny cousin taught me the handshake trick.
I was ten or eleven. Small for my age, but quick
As a flash, after a smiling approach, I could duck
Beneath my arm and get the affable chap
Locked in a Half-Nelson. Thing about tricks is
You shouldn’t use them too often. This I learnt when
I approached a strong young American, hand
Extended, smile applied. He took that hand and
Had me floored. Saw it coming, Howell.
Pinned beneath him, head against the concrete,
I broke down, shamed in front of everyone.
Of course they cheered, the lot of them. I know
I got what I deserved. But how could I tell anyone
What contempt I felt then for myself? It
Was sickening. That was the end of my trick.