Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Poptop2, Apr 5, 2019.
Tommy the Aga’s place
How I liked them
Barbara and Trev’s place
The cattle drink looking upstream
The brothel owner.
Terry ( not his real name ) came to see me in the meadow one day. He was a very thin disheveled man who was about 55 years old. He pulled up in his beaten up Toyota pick up with a reefer on the go and beamed at me through his huge spectacles " are you Malc?" he asked. I told him I was indeed me and asked what he needed. It transpired he wanted me to come up and price up the ground works for his new cabin that he wanted built on the site of an old one he had just purchased over the railway line and nicely hidden on the side of a small valley overlooking a stream and a wood. I agreed go have a look at some time in the future, I knew the one he had bought and had put the water on for the previous owner. Terry thanked me and staggered off back to his pick up like a Gerry Anderson puppet looking for all the world like a tramp full of cheap wine who owned a pick up. I liked him right away.
A day or so later I had a drive up over the railway and went to see Terry. Terry and his drop dead gorgeous 20 something year old girlfriend were sat outside of their dilapidated old cabin at a small round cast iron table and chair drinking a classic Bourdeaux and eating strawberries and cream. I offered an handshake and asked where the champagne was, Terry simply said " we drink enough of that in our job a nice red makes a change" and smiled back at me and shook my hand warmly. His girlfriend and business associate was introduced ( I'll call her Amanda, but again that wasn't her name ) and we chatted while Terry went inside for the plans. She was very welcoming and friendly and made me feel at ease right away. I liked Terry and his girlfriend from the off.
When Terry returned with the drawings he came armed with two great big spliffs ready to go and offered me one with a smile saying it was the best skunk he could get, I declined and said I preferred a glass of wine. He looked at me as if I was a bit odd, but filled a glass and unrolled the drawings.
The drawings showed the reason he wanted me in on the job, the base of the building was to be cut back into the sandstone slope next to the existing building and were some ten foot deep by forty feet long and twenty four feet into the rock. In essence it was cellar basement cut into the rock with intricate footings and tanking to keep out the mositure. He also wanted a huge Twelve foot by ten foot hole dug for a vertical septic tank up by the fence, and this is why he wanted me in, I had the JCB and was local, he had his own team of cabin builders, but I had to get the project going by digging through the bedrock with my machine. I thought about it for a while and decided I didn't want the job and told him it was two to three weeks work and fuel with the possibility of tooth and bucket damage to the machine so it would be upwards of five thousand to take it on which was the bottom price and any machine damage was at his expense. He then asked how soon I could start. Devil it, I could have put another thousand on and he would have taken it, still £5k for just over a fortnight's work how could I refuse it. I said I'd start on Monday.
The job went very well indeed Terry was an absolute gent to work for, as soon as the job was done he paid me in cash and gave me a very expensive vintage claret as a thank you.
While I had been quietly working away on the digging out I seldom saw much of them after about three in the afternoon. They seemed to have a routine and disappeared off out in Amanda's BMW and no more would be seen of them that day. Each morning they would return about 10 am or emerge from the old chalet looking disheveled and hung over, before having a late breakfast at the wrought iron table and coming to life. They did seem a very happy couple despite the obvious age gap. They made me smile.
After I'd left the job a good few weeks went by and Terry came down to see me, he asked if I wouldn't mind dropping the new fibreglass bottle septic tank in the hole I had dug using my machine. Of course this was no problem at all and a day was set. I went up and met his guys that day for the first time and saw the lovely no expense spared job they had made of his new place. The cellar I had cut out was a wine cellar par excellence. The whole forty foot of back wall was shelved with wine racks filled to the top with the very finest wines, champagnes and cognacs. the front had authentic looking arched woodwork that made the place look like wine vaults and there were tasting tables and cheese wheels on the side shelves.. It was without doubt fantastic. There was over half a million pounds of wines and cognacs in the cellar. This little disheveled man was indeed a wealthy chap and he liked his wines. The building above was a very simple looking well built tongue and grooved log cabin it was very unpretentious and simple, but it hid a very nice little secret. I liked his style.
I dropped the septic tank into the hole using the back acter and a chain. Terry's guys guided it in and asked me how they finished the job as they hadn't installed a septic tank before. I told them how the piping run ran, how to back fill with gravel around the sides, top with a concrete collar around the neck and an how to fit the inspection lid. They thanked me and I left. A few days later I was back getting them out of the mire.
Somehow the foreman had the idea that the whole surround of the septic tank had to be back filled with concrete and had ordered a pour ignoring the advice of his lads who had spoken to me. The concrete pour proved too much and the sloping face of the surrounding soil had collapsed. To make matters worse he had decided to fill the septic tank with water to stabilise it during the pour. When the wall had collapsed the tank fell over and ended up at the bottom of the little wooded valley looking very forlorn and unloved. Terry was a bit miffed.
Somehow between the lads and myself and a landrover winch we got the tank back up the hillside and into position again. The lads then had to build a retainer wall where the front of the rock face was to hold back the tank and finish the job as it should have been in the first place, anyhow Terry was really grateful for my help and asked me in to pay me me. He handed over a roll of notes that came to £600 for a days work and said he couldn't thank me enough and then offered me and Lou a free night at his club with everything i wanted thrown in. I asked him where his club was. He said he owned three, two in Brum city centre and one in Handsworth. I asked him what type of club and if there was a dress code and he began to laugh. It was obvious I was the only one within a hundred yards of us that didn't know he owned three brothels. When he said I had to pretend not to be shocked and make my excuses. He went on asking me what my preferences were, what Lou liked and if we had been to one before, would I like Amanda in with us as we got on so well. I knew what Lou's face would be like if I came back telling her we were booked into a brothel for the night all expenses paid no holds barred and by the way Amanda from up the hill would be joining us...
D . I .V . O . R . C . E...
My god how could I escape this and remain on good terms.
In the end I simply told him I wasn't into that sort of lifestyle, I explained I was a simple country lad with simple needs and smiled. He looked at me like I was turning down the offer of lifetime and shook his head. I took the opportunity to shake his hand and take my leave of him clutching my wad of notes tightly in the the other hand.
Terry and I remained friendly and on occasion I would give him a lift up the lane. He'd always light up a smoke of skunk that blew my head off before he got out at his place, and he always asked me to do his groundwork or try a glass of his latest purchase, but I never took up the offer of visiting one of his clubs as curious as I was. I did see Amanda in town a few years ago. Poor girl hasn't aged well.
Terry and Amanda wasn't their real names and they have both been inside for running brothels so I won't divulge their real names. I always liked them as customers, but they were just one couple out of a lots of diverse people down the lane. They may well have broken the law, but they were very generous and would rather do people a favour than a bad deed. The world probably needs more people like Terry and Amanda IMO.
The elusive water leak.
In the winter of 1990 the water pressure in our cabins went very low and was hardly forceful enough to power a shower. Tom and I searched the fields and empty cabins for weeks to find a leak which it was obvious there was. But it was to no avail we just couldn't pinpoint it.
The weeks went by and no matter what the pressure wouldn't improve Dave even turned the main stopcock up at the top field to improve it. but it simply wasted more water. Somewhere someone hadn't turned off their water supply in an holiday cabin and there was a burst somewhere.
My friend that owned the cabin opposite me was called Bill, a really genial oldish guy from the black country. Bill never overwintered at his place, but always left me a key to his gate and his cabin so as I could fish in his garden and keep an eye on his riverside cabin. Bill was a good guy who I often went into town with on an evening to have a drink in the Angel. Bill and I would stagger home through the park along the river and up the lane, sometimes it took longer to get home than the time we had spent in the pub. It was a laugh and we sang old songs at the top of our voices. People said we were a blooming nuisance on Friday nights sometimes, but I liked a night out with Bill, he was a director of one of the black country football teams and made me laugh.
The thing about Bill though was, he was very laid back and could be forgetful.
During the period of the leak we searched high and low for it, and every night when I walked the dogs I took a torch and had my ears cocked for the sound of running water. One evening as I passed Bill's cabin I heard the sound of dripping water. I turned on my torch and made way quickly to the back of Bill's cabin. Luckily I had the torch on as I turned the corner to his back garden, because it wasn't there, just a twelve foot drop down into the river. His whole back garden directly behind his cabin had disappeared. There was water dripping out of the bottom of his cabin that was built on small brick piers and it was dripping all along the bottom edge of the walls. The whole garden immediately behind it including a forty foot oak tree had simply gone. I went to his stopcock and turned the water off. It was after the horse had bolted, but at least the pressure for everyone else suddenly returned. Bill had forgotten to turn his water off for the winter.
I went home and phoned him to tell him the news. I dreaded the reaction, but all he said was oh well. I phoned David the farmer and Tom to tell them what had happened and that the leak was found, They were shocked and upset for Bill, but he wasn't in the least bit upset by the news.
The dawn brought the full extent of the damage home. Tom and I met at Bill's which was directly opposite my place across the field. What had happened was, the leak all along the edge of Bill's cabin had been dripping for weeks in a dead straight line the whole length of Bill's cabin and had eroded a line in the garden behind his cabin which was roughly twenty feet from the riverbank, the river had then risen slightly and further eroded into the bank that was now weakened in a forty foot line from above. When the river went down to it's regular level the garden simply slid whole down the bank into the river. The oak tree had formed an island at the bottom that could be clearly made out in the daylight. Bill turned up as we inspected the damage and simply shrugged his shoulders saying he had a haulage mate who would tip stone down and shore up the bank, he seemed to like his new island and said he would use sand bags to keep it in place. I estimated that about 400 ton of embankment had gone, Bill just shrugged and said it happens. Dave said he may get a big water bill.
Over the next few weeks Bill had about 20 lorry loads of stone dropped down the bank to shore it up, he also filled hundreds of sandbags with sand and cement to form a simple wall around his newly formed island. It worked a treat and we had a great fishing peg and swimming platform from then on. Bill also dug out some rudimentary steps down to the island through the rocks he'd had tipped. he dug them into the clay bank and pegged them back with short planks to form the risers. While he was doing that he uncovered a coal seam in the bank which he followed along the bank before digging some out to try on his fire. It burned well and Bill had own supply of coal for years after. When the river level was low in the summer he would dig into the bank further into the coal seam and under his garden again. I waited years for that part to collapse next, but it never did, I think he went about 20ft back into embankment by the time he died.
His daughter Kim and husband Andy moved into the cabin a year or so later and became our good friends. Eventually I rebuilt the place with a huge new log cabin and we had fantastic riverside parties there over the years. Bill never gave up his free coal supply though and continued his part time mining for years after. I don't think he needed to do it as he was obviously very well off, but with people like Bill something like that for free was irresistible.
I often smile thinking about Bill and I staggering up the lane after a night in town, but one night we took his new son in law Andy with us and discovered Andy could drink me and Bill and most anyone under the table without getting drunk himself. I stopped going into town with them after that, for health reasons!
To say there wasn't crime down the lane would be stretching the truth a little. We know there were dealers and of course Terry the brothel owner lived there, but overall there wasn't any crime locally as such. Nobody got their car stolen, no one was burgled and nobody ever got mugged down the lane. The quintessential English village was the way we saw it, but one winter there came amongst us a burglar.
This bad guy was a person of the night, a prowler out on the trawl for empty properties that he could quietly peruse at his leisure and make off with any desirables he desired, and boy was he desirous.
It was the dead of winter and people that only lived there in the summer or holidayed there often relied on the good natured locals to keep an eye on their property and the unwillingness of the town baddie to come and get his feet muddy, but our new visitor of the night had none of these good natured concerns, he was after their belongings and he knew security was lax, a good clout with an hammer or prize with a jemmy was enough to be into most cabins, the alarm systems were non existent back then.
This person it seemed knew the layout of the area well because a couple of times he was very nearly disturbed, then the alarm would go up, but he never got caught, and seeing as there was only one real lane out of the the place he must have known the other routes out, over the farm track or on down to the reservoir and up through the wood to the back lane. Somehow we had to lay a trap.
The lane came to an end just passed the bottom fields at the end of the bungalows at the water bridge. The water bridge may well have been it's final destination all along, after all it needed maintenance from both sides of the river, it being the main pipeline from the Elan valley to Brum, and even justifying an home guard watch during the war. I digress, the lane ended there and became a dirt track from then on for about half a mile that passed a final field of bungalows that was known locally as the waterworks cabins, before coming out into the reservoir nature reserve. You could then make your way around the resrvoir, head on up through the woods and regain a road into town. It was a bit of jog, but easily do-able for a fit person. Whether it was do-able carrying a heavy swag bag was another question, but we all knew criminals could be resourceful.
The other way out was on up over the fork in the lane across the railway crossing passed the top meadows through the farmyard and up a rough farm track on to the same back road into town. Either way it was going to be a struggle carrying heavy ill gotten gains.
The plan revolved around the fact he or she seemed to burgle midweek, never on the weekends and seldom was anything taken early on in the week. we guessed they/ he/she was a Wednesday night prowler. So we set about waiting quietly in the shade at three junctures, our lane back into town by the phone box, just over the crossing before the top meadow and just past the waterworks bridge on the dirt track. Tom and Bob covered the crossing ( mainly because his daughter lived nearby and he could get a regular cuppa) Me and the other Bob covered the waterworks track and Bill and Darren covered the phonebox in their car. They were long lonely fruitless nights, the perp never showed for weeks. our sleep suffered and the once adventurous spirit dwindled. We swapped places to change the scenery and liven us up, but even that became a bit dull as time went on. We soon stopped swapping tales and the spirit of bon ami changed to a feeling of drudgery and ' oh no it's Wednesday here we go again'..
Anyway on the fourth Wednesday excitement abounded, well I say Wednesday, it was really Thursday morning and when I say excitement abounded I mean the boredom was curtailed when one of the locals ' Rick the Indian' came and woke me to say he thought his neighbour's place had been burgled over night. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, shook Bob awake, unfurled the blanket from around me and alighted my fold up camp chair to stretch my legs. Rick said he was going to call the police and we sheepishly had to admit we hadn't noticed anything untoward as we slept. I think Tom and Bob and Bill and Darren had to admit similar. Vigilant vigilantes we were not.
Rick's neighbour or to be more precise the unoccupied bungalow across the lane had indeed been entered that night. The owners seldom ventured down the lane these days and the place was overgrown, but the gate was open and the door had been forced. No one knew if anything had been taken as the place was in such a mess. Somehow we had to find contact details for the owners and inform them.
Our nights of vigilance had come to nothing, the perp had perpertrated again right under our noses and we had slept.
This laying in wait would have to stop!
The police were the hero's of the hour in the end, but I'll tell you about that presently.
The perp it turned out was a chap who had done some work on one of the bungalows in the summer, He had gained people's trust when chatting and decided the place was ripe for a bit of night time filching.
He had parked his van on the other side of the river in the dead of night and made his way over the waterworks bridge dressed in dark clothing and holding a jemmy and hammer. He had cased the joint or target building previously and was pretty certain how he was getting in. Then once he had been in and accrued a stash he simply stored it in the garden under a taup he had secreted in the lane and came back in the day in his works van and made good with the goods, Foolproof!
Actually it wasn't foolproof and his hoard had been discovered on one of his jobs, the police just waited for someone to turn up to collect it. When he did turn up they bagged him up easily. They simply blocked the lane and waited for him to drive back to them and searched his van for ill gotten gains. They had him bang to rights as they say and the lane returned to normality. The excitement of a bad un in our midst was banished to the cells and our nights of surveillance became a distant memory, but that's when the tales begin. We went from un vigilant vigilantes who had trouble staying from the arms of Morpheus to super hero's afraid of nowt, men of steel that guarded the lane with the hearts of lions, we were it transpired the hero's of the hour and our legend grew greater with each re telling of our adventure.
Thankfully Rick the Indian had the good grace not to divulge the fact he had to wake us that Thursday morning and we never actually did catch the burglar ourselves, but that's how legends are born, or is that leg ends?
Good to see you back on this project, Malc
When can we expect the kindle book Malc?
Great story malc
I'm working on it now
A few pictures of the flooded meadow and chalets from the recent flood.
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Thought about the cabins this week,
with the high river levels high at Ironbridge
They had an hard time this winter Art, I had a walk down there a few weeks back and spoke to a few people about it and it was bad.
Can't say I'm surprised..
That river Severn will never be tamed..
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