Jay Blades recalls getting brutally beaten up by a gang of police officers – for the first time – when he was just 14 years old.
He says it was 10pm when, as he was walking back home along a street near his home in North West London, a police van pulled up alongside him..
He remembers: “The back doors swung open and there were five or six uniformed policemen sitting in the van waiting for me. They didn’t even bother to search me. They just beat the s*** out of me.
“It was brutal. They were laying into me with fists, feet and truncheons, and all I could do was roll into a ball on the floor of the van and wait, pray, for it to end. It probably lasted two minutes but it felt a lot, lot longer.
“They were laughing, ‘This’ll show you, black b******!’. When they’d had enough they chucked me out and drove off.”
Shockingly, Jay claims such appalling incidents became a normal part of life as he grew up, making him even more disaffected and angry with the world.
Jay never reported the abuse, for fear it would just make things worse.
“It was normal, especially in the 80s,” he says. “Sometimes you weren’t really badly beaten up. Other times they’d pick you up, beat you up and drive off with you.
“Every now and again you get a kick in the back or a stamp on the arm. They’d throw you out in an area that was predominantly white, and you’d have to find your way out of that area because if the racists saw you there they’d chase you.
“People will be shocked by that, but within the black communities it was a normal occurrence.
“No one reported it, because you’d be reporting it to the racist police.
“You see so many injustices when you grow up in a poor area, and you know there’s no point in verbalising anything."
Jay, now the star of successful BBC shows The Repair Shop and Money for Nothing, believes his experiences of racism and deep sense of injustice were both what nearly destroyed him - and also what shaped him and got him to where he is today.
While his lively, cheery persona has made The Repair Shop must-watch comforting TV, the teenage Jay was consumed with anger about the way he was treated - especially after being racially abused while in secondary school.
He says he was punched in the face in his first week in school and adds: “The innocence got beaten right out of me” When he told his mother, she asked “Well, why didn’t you hit him first?”.
So from that moment on, he did.
Before long Jay, now 51, had earned a reputation not just as someone who relished a fight, but who could knock out anyone with a single punch.
He says: “It was a sense of injustice, and a bit of anger too. All I knew was that it was wrong, these people are treating me in a particular way, and I’m just going to fight.
“And they wanted to fight. It was almost as if it was a rite of passage to have a fight with Jay Blades. You could say anything to me and, bosh, I’d throw a punch and a fight would start. I went to school to fight, and I fought every day.
“There was an Asian boy in school who wasn’t a fighter. It annoyed me that people would pick on him because of the colour of his skin. One day the bullies punched him in the face and smashed his glasses. His family were poor like mine and I knew they couldn’t afford to buy him new ones.
“Something snapped. I decided they the b******s weren’t going to get away with it any more. From that day I didn’t just fight for me, but for everyone else who was getting bullied."
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The way Jay dealt with bullies meant that his first job, in a frozen sausage factory, lasted just two days.
“I was next to a 74-year-old white East End lady called Rita. She had a hunchback and her hands were frozen, so I started helping to fill up her boxes as well as my own.
“The manager started telling her off, telling her to go quicker. The disrespectful way he spoke to me reminded me of school. I told him to show a bit of respect. The next day he started giving her a hard time again.
“I punched him in the face, knocked him clean out. He was sparko.
“I didn’t even wait for him to wake up, I just got up and left.”
On another occasion, Jay saw his mother’s friend being roughed up by her boyfriend, so knocked him out cold with his rounders bat. But the man was from a “heavyweight” local family, who sent him a death threat, meaning he had to leave the area.
It was the start of a long journey of dead-end jobs and failed relationships.
But he also discovered something he could do really well – help young people reeling from the same injustices he had suffered.
Jay, who set up a project training young people in furniture restoration, says it was helping others with their anger that saved him from his own.
“Once you find your calling, you really reflect,” he says. “I started community work with young people, and dealing with people who were very similar to me, very angry. You have to show them a way to navigate their urges to solve everything with violence, because it doesn’t work.”
Nothing triggers him now.
He says: “I’m as cool as a cucumber. In the old days I was like a bottle of Coke, you could shake me up and as soon as you took that lid off, I just exploded. Now, I’m a bottle of water.
“I’ve worked with racist people, I’ve been called all of those names I was called at school, but instead of hitting them I’ve made sure I got them to understand where I was coming from.”
Jay, whose autobiography Making It is released on Thursday, believes landing the Repair Shop role in 2017 was a huge step forward in equality.
He explains: “For the first time you have a black person from a poor side of town who has a gold tooth on TV doing something that is normally related to white Middle England.
“I think the people who knew me back when I was young are proud of how far I’ve come.”