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Oi! Oooooi! Hey! Oi! There's no real ignoring the man walking towards us at speed, on an intercept course. It's almost 2am and he's wearing a tracksuit, never a good sign - I'm pretty sure he's no jogger. He gets closer.

'Do you smoke? Do you? Do you smoke?' He seems fairly hostile.

'No.' I say. There are three of us, the others make similar negative comments.

'What?' he raises his hands, 'come on, can I have a cigarette?' He's close now.

'I don't smoke mate, sorry,' I say, and then add, somewhat unnecessarily, 'I gave up in January.' I probably sound smug.

'What?' he snarls, 'I just saw you smoking.' I'm not sure how to respond to that.

'What? No, I wasn't,' I say, 'I, um, gave up.' We actually have a brief argument where he says, 'yes you were' and I say, 'no I wasn't'. He's in our faces now.

'I just want a fag!' he says. My, he is aggressive. I pull out my keys and phone quickly and put them back in my front front pockets, then make a show of pulling nothing out of my back pockets, like a crap magician.

'Look, I don't have anything.' He stops and reconsiders.

'What's your names?' We reluctantly give our names. It's tense. Oh my god, I notice that he's covered in blood. He's either just been punched repeatedly in his mangled bloody nose, or he's just fallen over and smashed his face on something made of stone. My heart sinks and I feel a small frisson of fear.

'Let me shake your hand,' he says, suddenly alarmingly conciliatory. I can taste the menace. This is a difficult moment. My instinct is that he's planning to use the handshake as a street-fighting initial advantage - pulling suddenly into a head-butt for example. If I refuse he'll take it as an insult and use that as an excuse for fighting. I think for a moment and then slowly give him my hand, putting my weight on my back foot and bringing my other arm as high as I can without it looking like I'm going for a defensive posture. Firm grip, but not like a vice. We shake hands, looking in each other's eyes, and then he lets go.

'Have a good night, yeah?' he says, and walks off.