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LIZ SCREAMS! MOB BEATS UP BURTON!
operation’’— about which we will have more to say later in the story.
For now, let’s concentrate on getting the facts on Burton’s bruises and injured dignity.
“What prompts you to awsk?” Britisher Burton awsked in reference to my inquiry.
At four pounds (about twelve dollars) for the first three minutes, plus a seventy-five cents charge for a person-to-person call, I came to the point quickly.
"I have a report here that you were done in by the ’Teddy Boys,”’ I burbled gently. I didn’t want to make it sound like a presumptuous offense. It was not my intent to shatter Burton’s equilibrium. Heaven knows, he was already shaken enough.
“I’m trying to find out how badly you were hurt.” I continued.
“Ah, well,” Burton murmured, “it was just one of those awkward things that can happen anywhere. Happened right outside Paddington Station— with relays of people passing. It was quite frightful, I really must say.”
“Indeed it must have been a frightful experience for you,” I buzzed. “I hope you had those incorrigibles locked up.”
Burton grumbled. Sounded like he was trying to grin and bear it.
“No time for that,” he said calmly. “They rushed off . . .”
He was warming up to the interview. I savored the prospect of getting a Photoplay exclusive on the details of the cuffing administered to Burton by the “Teddy
Boys” — London’s equivalent of our juvenile boy mobs.
“Could you tell me how it happened?” I pressed on industriously—as a good reporter should.
“Not really much to tell,” Burton rebounded nonchalantly, as if the episode had not galvanized much afterthought. “It happened so quickly that I’m still put out in finding any logic to it all.”
“You were returning from a soccer game when it happened?”
“Ah, not that, it was rugby . . . the England-Wales rugby match which was played in Cardiff.”
Burton related that he had gone to the Saturday afternoon game and returned in the early evening to find people standing stoically in the bus and taxi queues outside Paddington Station.
“The snow was crisp and even —and there wasn’t a thing in sight,” he remarked about London’s transportation in the midst of the country’s worst winter storms in years. London had been digging out of knee-deep drifts for days. The city’s transit facilities were, as a result, still in a state of near-paralysis.
“Some of the people were taking it philosophically,” Richard related. “They were resigned to the fact that they couldn’t get any colder in that perishing weather and their only way of getting home was to stand put hopefully and wait for something to come along. But some people were cursing their plight.”
Burton saw his cue at the queue
to propound his philosophy about the inordinately trying situation. Now, here’s how he told the story of how it all happened:
“I muttered about this marvelous public service London has and said a word or two about its taxis ... I don’t remember exactly what it was I said. Perhaps I was a bit vitriolic in spots about the cocky independence of all the cab drivers over here in London.
“I was talking to ordinary people and I thought I was being rather cheerful.”
Burton said sheepishly that he didn’t “cotton on to” an unseen little mob of boys who had snuggled up pretty close to him.
“Suddenly . . .”
He paused, as if trying to dramatize the punchline. Or perhaps he was trying to get over the shrinking horror of his calamitous encounter with the mob of young ruffians. Whatever the reason, Burton resumed the story:
“I was surrounded by a half dozen little boys . . . you might say they were ‘Teddy Boys.’ You know, little toughies. They bunched around me and before I could express even mild curiosity about their presence or their motives, I was caught right in the middle of a very tight scrum.”
Having just returned from a rugby match, Burton was fitting the game’s jargon to the situation. A “tight scrum” is formed by the eight forwards on both sides in two or more rows to shove against each other (Continued on page 72)