Duration: 01:56

After leaving the West Midlands for a life of adventure, I found myself hitchhiking around the United States in early 1980. I was 28 at the time. On arriving in San Francisco, I had a clear choice between keeping the last few dollars I had or finding somewhere to sleep. Luckily, I found an empty skip and decided to stay there for a few days. After about 30 minutes, a red Ford Pinto stopped for me. I opened the door and got in. The driver didn’t say anything and just nodded when I said I wanted to go downtown. He wasn’t physically imposing, but he was squat and well-built. He was clean-shaven, with short hair – a swarthy-looking bloke. There was no recognisable smell in the car, but the bad vibe this man gave off was almost overpowering. A mile or so into the journey, the man started muttering under his breath, cursing Palestine and Israel. He didn’t seem to notice that I was there. I told him that I didn’t need to go any farther, and the car drifted to the side of the busy freeway and stopped. Suddenly, without a word, he took out a piece of cord, lunged across and wrapped it around my neck. I thought, “This is it – I’m dead.”