And I’ve still got all my own teeth

A new local hero: 100-year-old Buster Martin, who fought off three teenagers who tried to rob him.

Buster, who still works five days a week as a car washer and mechanic, was followed by the gang when he left a pub.

He said: “They pushed me against a wall and tried to take my money from me.

“I went mad. I was lashing out on the floor and then I stood up and was kicking them all.

“I pushed one and kung-fu kicked the other one between the legs.

I might name my firstborn son Buster.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

65 thoughts on “And I’ve still got all my own teeth”

  1. I remember a fab old Scots bloke, hollowed-eyed with age, who used to come into the Cave and say to the room at large, “I’m available!”

    CamberwellOz on the Forum site needs Egg Benedict quick. Where can she find it? I think our outlets should cater for her special need, as she is pregnant.

    That last theme of yours was so nicely phrased, Peter, about the churches and the peace march, with a breath of secular fresh air thrown in from those youth workers. And then it got bogged down in pizza!

  2. Isn’t that brilliant? It was in ‘The London Paper’ that he’s an ex-boxer, who still trains once a week in Bermondsey.
    I bet those robbers didn’t know what hit ’em. They must’ve thought he’d be easy prey, little did they know! Good for Buster, I hope he hurt ’em as well.

  3. Good for Buster but I can’t help feeling that this is irresponsible journalism. Are we saying that you should fight back when being mugged? Is that sensible? Is Vigilantism ok? If so, why don’t we round up a posse and go and sort these thugs out? Then we could deal with the tramps after that…

    What happend to leaving things to the authorities?

  4. SG — Not sure I am with you. Do they stand their ground in Tunbridge Wells or do they do the sensible thing and hand over their wallets when being mugged?

    How would you deal with a mugging? What would you teach your kids?

  5. I would normally suggest one doesn’t fight back when being mugged, but when it actually happens the rule book goes out the window. I suggest one takes each case as it comes. If you reckon you can take them on do so. When I’ve been mugged I’ve found the fear disappears and I just want fight back — depends how many there are though.

  6. It’s hard to know until it happens to you.

    I’ve been mugged twice (both times in Nottingham, and I’m 6’4 so they must have been desperate!). One time I was meek, very cool and handed over wallet. Second time it was the end of a bad night and i called his bluff and he skidaddled quicksmart. Logic goes out of the window unless you’re trained or experienced in those situations.

    As an aside,being 6foot+ and fairly broad I kinda don’t notice situations sometimes when others may have be unnerved. Have people felt threatened on the camberwell streets?

  7. FoxyAl,

    There’s a big difference, I think, between making a spur-of-the-moment decision to fight back when being personally under attack and deciding to become a vigilante then going out in a pack to hunt down trouble.

    I suggest one’s personal; the other’s political.

    The Tunbridge Wells point I made, though quite badly, was around you sounding like “outraged@tunbridgewells” — one minute people were chatting about Buster and the next there was talk of irresponsible journalism and vigilantes 🙂

    But a point best forgotten, it seems.….…..

  8. Certainly sounds like the usual low level inverted snobbery witnessed on the blog day in day out. Ah well.

    Anyway Foxy you do sound like a bit of a wimp. Would you hand over your wallet to an eight year old girl on roller skates if she asked for it?

    I think we’ve got enstill a bit of no surrender spirit into the youth. There’ll be a few casualties but it’s for the greater good.

    If anyone asked for my wallet I’d grab the nearest ashtray/brick/umbrella and brain the cnut, then leg it.

    May sound a bit reckless but I’m doing it for you guys…

  9. I am just saying that it is a strange story that glamourises fighting muggers. I am sure many of the stabbing stories we read started out like this one and then ended up with tragic consequences. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. Fight back by all means, just don’t expect a column in the evening standard if you get away with it.

    If a tramp starts aggrsively asking me for money and generally intimidating me, am I allowed to whack him? Where do you draw the line?

  10. Use your judgement.

    I told one to f off in Brixton McDonalds and he started on me and follwed me around.

    Man for man I could have panned him but he totally stank and had nothing to lose.

    In the end he got chucked out and I went to see the Charlatans at the Academy. No harm done.

    Thought of you the other day Foxy- I read an article where Clarkson said his favourite album was the the ‘Best of’ from Massive Attack.

    Bought any new ‘best of’ albums recently?

  11. ‘Panned’ — haven’t heard that for years!

    I had a weird experience in the Phoenix the other day. Couple of fellas in there asking for drinks and not being served. After a bit of toing and froing one of them came out with the classic ‘it’s cos I’m black, innit?’. The barmaid said ‘I’m not dignifying that with an answer’. The bloke kept banging on about her not accepting his money etc etc. I smiled at the barmaid in silent support, wherupon the bloke asked me if I was laughing at his expense and did I want to be severely beaten. I said ‘you what?’, but he couldn’t understand me and said ‘you northern or summink’. I said yes. He called me a cunt. I walked away with my beers.

    I couldn’t have panned him. He was bigger than me and looked hard. I’m 6’1 but thin. I might have been faster but he was stronger for sure. I wanted to pan him though. I felt ashamed for not taking up the fight on the barmaid’s behalf.

    Maybe I should start carrying a gun or a knife. Haha.

  12. Oi, oi.

    Buster Martin may well have violated the human rights of his muggers, but he may have also been handing out unconditional tough love.

  13. Alan — Who? Richie or the drunk?

    My favourite best of album would be “Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits”. Pure class.

  14. I think Clarkson prefers Private investigations: The Best of Mark Nopfler/Dire Straits.

    It’s pretty similar but it includes the latest Auf Wiedersehen pet theme tune and doesn’t feature the bloody awful ‘Twisting by the pool’.

    Surely you didn’t buy Sultans of Swing recently? Or were you completing the transition from tapes to CDs?

    I recently bought Boss Drum for that very reason but that too has been superseded by a Clarkson friendly ‘The shamen collection’.

  15. If you were shooting a promotional video for Camberwell and had to choose a piece of music for the soundtrack, what would you go for?

  16. I’d go for A message to you Rudy by the Specials.

    Stop your messing around Ahh-Ahhh
    Better think of the future Ahh-Ahhh

    Or River Deep Mountain high as sung by Joy at the Silver Buckle Karaoke, or What a wonderful World as sung by Noel…

    Any more?

  17. Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters- and she stands there singing for money La da de La doo dow, La da de La doo dow

    Seems to be a song about one of our local ‘characters’.

  18. Could be any song as long as it costs 99p.

    Noticed a planning consent form on front of the newish building opposite Ruskin Park on Denmark Hill for the ground floor space. Application made by the Metropolitan Police. Can anyone shed light on this?

  19. It’s a police shed.

    Dead End Street by the Kinks. “What are we living for? Two room apartment on the second floor…”

    Can’t we ask Buster Martin to appear on the Camberwell Online coat of arms?

    Shouldn’t the next pub be called the Buster Martin? How about the BRB, Youngs, c’mon.

    Glamorising fighting back against muggers?

    “Let’s tax dis centenarian”


    “Ooh! ‘e kicked me in the balls.”


    Thud! Whack! Lamp!

  20. I think I admire Buster for the fact that he wasn’t prepared to just give in.

    I’m sure that if three blokes came up to me and asked for my wallet i’d hand it over NO question. and then spend days torturing myself about how I WOULD have kicked their heads in IF etc etc.
    hindsight is twenty twenty.

    Fundamentally if you try to mug an old person you’re a coward and deserve to be taught a lesson. (Which Buster was obviously more than equipped to dish out!)

    There’s definitely a time and place for a certain, specific, effective and measured amount of violence in self defense.

    Horribly, on my way home from work tonight I saw a little gang of 14–16 year old schoolgirls punching and kicking an old man outside the Co-Op on Camberwell New Road. I dunno what the story was, and it confused me. Either they were attacking him for ‘kicks’ = BAD. Or maybe he said something racist to them as he walked by = Understandable response.

    people are stupid. violence is weird.

  21. Ghost Town — The Specials

    This town, is coming like a ghost town
    Why must the youth fight against themselves?
    Government leaving the youth on the shelf
    This place, is coming like a ghost town
    No job to be found in this country
    Can’t go on no more
    The people getting angry

  22. @ Alan. are you from Cleethorpes? I’ve been there a few times for the folk music festival in the Winter Gardens. good times!

  23. Here are my ‘mugging tips’. Well, it worked for me…

    Contrive to fall over if you can, it’s surprisingly difficult to extract a wallet from someone who’s writhing about at your feet, even more so if they are clinging on to your ankles, counterintuitive though it may seem.

    Put on your best stentorian impression of Sidney Poitier, “I’m a police officer” (OK, probably illegal and wouldn’t work if you are, say 17, male, with shoulder length hair).

    And that’s it. As I say, worked for me, the blighters* legged it empty handed…And I could (almost truthfully) brag in the pub afterwards that I had single-handedly fought of two (albeit unarmed) assailants. “Doubles all round”!

    *sorry for coming over all Lord Henry-ish

  24. My ‘being mugged’ tip: Make sure you are so utterly shitfaced that you can hardly stand up, let alone do anything so silly as resist or retaliate.

    Mind you, resisting worked for Buster and he’s been around for a century, so he must be doing something right.

  25. Three ‘young men’ circled me outside my house. One of them began fiddling with the bag over my shoulder. I said what the hell are you doing? He said: What do you think? So I just punched him smack in the face. That got them going. Like I’d affronted them equally. Then a 7″ kitchen knife came out (wonder if his mummy missed it) but I didn’t notice that. My girfriend did notice the knife though — from out front room window; she thought I was being murdered. She was seven months pregnant with our second child and our fifteen month old first child was asleep upstairs. I picked up one of their bicycles to fend them off and then they got really angry, saying stuff like ‘put my bike down’ ‘what you think you doing?’ shit like that. Anyway they ran off and I wasn’t stabbed to death and I had flashbacks for a long time because, actually, I wish I’d kicked holy shit out of them to the point that they were pulp, had them arrested so they couldn’t do that kind of crap to someone else; alternative dream was to have chased them in my car and run them over mercilessly, grinding their bkies into their limbs so they would be incapacitated for the rest of their miserable, stupid little lives. So there.

    That’s just how it seemed at the time.

  26. That was 2001 and I still have moments of awfull recall. I’m sure they aren’t troubled the same way. Their problems are greater than mine. But they don’t know that.

    Their behaviouer and disgruntlement causes grief far wider than they understand.

  27. a Charles Bronson/‘Falling Down’ style response
    is probably the most effective way of detering these prcks. Dice them up with a bushknife or riddle them with bullets? maybe we could display the offenders heads above Butterfly Walk Newgate Stylee that would put them off!

    Another option for the weaker hearted is
    ( a tactic from pre ‑Guiliani New York)to carry a ‘sucker’ wallet as a decoy with a few quid/library card in it. Keep your important cards etc elsewhere it is unlikely that the morons will sublect you to a full body search.
    They might of course shank you for being too impecunious — a gang of tube steamers were doing this on the District Line recently. They would always stab someone in the leg as a nice trademark of their work. Unfortuantly one of the victims had a major artery severed and died of massive blood loss.
    Another thought- the army is very short of conscripts why not send these thugs off to the bloodbath of Iraq/Afganistan to experience some serious heavy manners?

  28. I like all of bunohue’s wide ranging ideas. Thankfully we have a lot of barabric human history to draw upon for creative precedent

  29. We are trying to arrive at a viable streetcrime formula this morning by casting model Citroen DS’s like runes. So far we have:

    Buster Martin = cool


    Nick Love’s geezer-chic film “Outlaw”, starring Sean Bean with his ridged forehead and gun, over-insistent & attention-seeking = not cool.

  30. What ho! the bourgeoisie!

    Giuliani’s Zero Tolerance campaign was shown to be bullshit. Read FREAKONOMICS.

    Cut them down like dogs! I am William Holden! And I am Ben Johnson! And I am Ernest Borgnine! And I am the greatest man who ever lived — Warren Oates!

    Feel my lead you middleclass Camberwellian bourgeoisie!

  31. Hi Bonbohue

    Sorry to tell you that HM Armed Forces have not had conscripts for 46 years now.

    And the reason they are unlikely to in the future is that the Army does not want to babysit the kind of vermin who rob, and threaten, and intimidate, and [despite their claims] have no honour, or strength, or courage.

    The stocks, however , is a fine idea, and has the added advantage of clearing stocks of rotten tomatoes from the local veggy shops.

    No one has ever explained to me what is wrong with hard labour being part of the standard tariff sentence for crimes of violence. I’d make them scrub pavements on their hands and knees — demeaning? Too right!

    Drew Mishmash

  32. @Squidder — comment 25
    I don’t think that beating someone is a reasonable response to a racist remark/insult. We’ll obviously never know what the circumstances of the incident you witnessed were, but in my eyes, only a physical assault warrants one in return.

  33. You are right to invite us to feel your lead, Lord Henry, we are as innocent puppies compared with you, who need to be led. My copy of wikipedia is all dog-eared just looking up your references!

    By the way, that lady is me on the original film poster of BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (to use those shouty caps you do) in the wikidpedia.

  34. Drew
    you are correct — i meant Recruits not conscripts. How about Red Army style frontal assualts? That would certainly enable us to chew thru unwanted personnel in no time.

  35. @mushtimushta. yeh i do agree with your point. It really freaked me out to see a load of school girls attacking an old fella at 4.15 in the afternoon. At the time my initial reaction to it was fairly horrid, bog-standard ‘Daily Mail’ esque “Society’s crumbled! Gangs of black teenagers are running wild in the streets preying on innocents” etc. afterwards I was trying to fathom WHY they might have been having a go. to be honest the only thing i could come up with was that maybe he’d said something racist to them. like you say, i s’pose we’ll never know.

    I certainly didn’t have the bottle to go over and intervene tho’, for fear of getting punched myself.

  36. Maybe they were just scumbags. And maybe that old fella’s dead now. Ho hum.

    Dagmar — if you can get hold of the poster to Monte Hellman’s seminal COCKFIGHTER (a film still banned in the UK, which also starred the late great Warren Oates) you will espy an image of a breasted Scandinavian-type female personage. She is a spitting image of the late Lady H in her prime. I say “late” as I am assuming Carstairs has terminated her existence by this point. The blackguard’s moral turpitude knows no bounds.

    The killer of the killer of Abraham Lincoln was Boston Corbett. His name wasn’t really Boston, he just liked the city. He also castrated himself years before killing Booth, as he was being tempted by “fallen women”.

    I myself have been tempted by fallen women in the King’s Cross area of Sydney recently. Much as I admire this flagrant display of street prostitution, the haggard junkie-look no longer thrills me, it no longer sends me, and I must desist.

    See you in the funny papers!

  37. @ Richie (way back at comment #14). I too was at the Phoenix and witnessed the incident. The lovely bloke in question also threatened to come back and shoot the manageress in the face. His mate, though nearly as drunk, was not quite as bad and provided the calming influence that saved the day I reckon.

    I went outside and spoke to them, and can safely say that of all the bad types I’ve had the displeasure of interacting with in my 5 Camberwell years he was the worst. Genuinely nasty.

    What annoyed me as much as the way they treated the girls behind the bar was that it took the police about 40 minutes to show up. They interviewed me and the manageress. I let them know what I thought of their rapid response, particularly as the blokes were waiting outside for nearly as long.

  38. She looks like my cousin Kirsten, Lord Henry! Her husband, Knut, he was a one. They say he ended up in a pillar of the Oresund Bridge to Sweden, like half the bikers in Denmark. She still appears in the Danish funny papers, but they don’t sell them here and I do not advise attempting to bring them back through customs!

  39. @ foxy al — re comment 5 — yes very wimpy
    @ Alan — re comment 11 — I agree
    @ Richie — re comment 14 — I overheard the same argument
    ME: I recon ID cards, DNA matching crime busting tactics and shipping convicts off to Iraq for their term so they can be as scared and experience the physiological trauma they put their victims through – It might actually help them understand, besides I am so fed up with their shit and defending their rights – what about rights for the rest of us.

  40. “The officer, from Southwark, was unhurt in the shooting in Beaton Close, Peckham, in the early hours of Sunday.”

    Unhurt? by a shooting? Who was the guy? Robocop? (Ok probably had a bulletproof vest on).

  41. Dagmar, your cousin, Kirsten, intrigues me. She fulfills all the requirements for a lovematch, re: His Lordship –

    1) She is Scandanavian, and therefore presumably overqualified in the breasticle department.

    2) She is at a low ebb, following the unexplained disappearance of her husband.

    3) If she is also a victim of substance abuse, she is the one for me!

    I look forward to hearing more about this floosy anon.


    Re: the discussion about what to do in a mugging — Let it here be known, that to discuss this is a sign that you are bourgeois and will never defend yourself. It is also a sign that you didn’t grow up in Camberwell and are, to all intents and purposes, a carpetbagger.

    Paradoxically, let it also here be known that if you strike His Lordship you shall be struck back, forthwith, and to the power of ten!

  42. I bet that this Buster Fellow used to kick ass down the Surrey Docks…I can imagine him bare knuckle fighting for a couple of pints of free ale…The lily-livered Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have nothing on him at all!!!

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