one time I briefly lived in Newbridge on Wye, just outside Llandrindod
Wells. It was a new house on a new estate so all my neighbours were
new to the area and that provided a great sense of camaraderie.
As most of you will probably remember, the period after a move seems
full of things that need to be done, very pressing and stressful
things if you have a wife otherwise you can indulge in the things
that are essential, the importance of which a woman will never understand.
Like a shed!
Now a shed needs a base
and that means concrete and concrete needs a mixer which in turn
has an unquenchable desire for sand, cement, chippings and water.
All this means that the whole project can easily become one that
you will do ‘next weekend’. However, my neighbour, Dave,
was a handyman par excellence, he would fearlessly roll up his sleeves
and attack any job, better still – he also wanted a shed.
So we ordered two.
The following Saturday
morning we had our concrete mixer and all the ingredients and we
set about mixing, pouring and patting the sloppy mess until it pleased
the eye. By about mid-day we had finished the two bases and we were
thirsty so it didn’t take much effort to get round to discussing
that the village had two pubs and a closed-down temperance bar (which
we could safely ignore). As newcomers it seemed incumbent upon us
to check the quality of, not just the service, but also the product.
A tough job but someone
has to do it!
But first the
jeans would have to be thrown in the washing machine before the
splashes of concrete rendered them only fit for a statue. No problem,
take em off, chuck em in, pour in the powder and switch on. Even
I could do that. In no time I was back downstairs, the machine was
making healthy sloshing noises and I was bound for the door. As
is my custom I pat my back pocket, not as a personal indulgence
but to check that I have my wallet. Horror of horrors, I realise
that the reassuring bulge is not there and the sloshing in the kitchen
tells me that my wallet is taking part in some surfing acrobatics.
The door won’t open, I press all the buttons – nothing.
I calm down and switch the machine off at the mains and wait, within
a minute the door clicks and I pull my jeans out, extract my sopping
wallet and carefully remove the notes. I grab enough and place them
in a tea towel and dry them as best as I can.
The barman is
a bit doubtful about accepting my money but, as we are the only
customers, sensible economics takes over. I suppose we had two or
four pints – as I can’t quite remember it must have
been four. Manual labour is thirsty work.
Closing time came and
we were shown the door, we blinked at the bright sunshine and swayed
rhythmically, a hand grabs my left arm, then another grabs my right.
“Would you get
in the car please, sir,” asked a firm but friendly voice.
Fine, I thought,
a lift home would be most welcome. The car sped off towards Llandrindod,
obviously using the scenic route. I wondered why they didn’t
offer Dave a lift, bit mean of them. I close my eyes and drift off.
I awake to a blast of fresh air from an opening door and a hand
grabs my elbow, helps me out, leads me up some steps and through
some doors. I am standing at a sort of counter and another man seems
to be interested in my details, like my name and address and stuff.
I have to turn out my pockets and the contents are recorded and
put in a bag. I am then taken to this room and led to a chair behind
a table, they sit facing me and ask me questions, and seem very
interested when I tell them that I have my own printing company.
I begin to sober up and get concerned realising that I am in the
inner depths of a police station. This is a first time for me and
I am not quite sure what I should do, do I jump up and say “You’ll
never take me alive, copper!” or do I ask for a solicitor?
I box clever and ask for a solicitor. “All in good time sir,”
the tall, thin one tells me “got a few more questions to ask
A further half hour goes
by, my head is reeling and I feel exhausted. I am at the end of
“Look here, “
I say “You can’t do this, I know I was a bit drunk but
I wasn’t causing any trouble, I’ve always done everything
within the law, paid my taxes and all my bills, been a good citizen
and all that. Why am I here?”
we are acting on information received,” said the short, fat
one “what you might call a tip-off. We have reason to believe
you have been doing some money laundering.”