Tag Archives: Bingo

Going Dutch


“We want to give ourselves up..”

Was what the officer heard over the phone along with the name.

“What? Speak up please sir.”

The voice continued slightly crackly over the line.

“Yeah. We’ve been thinking about it and we want to hand ourselves in.”

There was a mental reshuffle from the policeman sat behind his desk in Bradford as the name registered. He stared into the air slightly slack-jawed for a moment with the phone pressed to his ear, knuckles whitening as he realized who was on the other end.

Right. Yes. Don’t move! I’ll send someone straight round!.”

Wellllll. That might be a bit hard.”

“It will, will it? Running off again are we sir. Oh ho ho ho.  Don’t make that mistake again my lad. Just stay put and I’ll have a unit come and collect you.”

“Ok. Er.. How long is it going to take?”

“How long. Not long at all.  For you,  we’ll have someone there in two shakes.”

“Only, well, have I got time to nip and have something to eat? I’m a bit hungry.”

“Now listen sir. This isn’t a bloody joke! You sit tight and don’t bugger off and I’ll have someone with you shortly.”

“You will? Have they got a boat?”

“A boat? A boat?? Think this is a laughing matter do you son?”

“Well no.”

“Right then just sit still and wait. Don’t make this any worse than it already is. You’re  already in a lot of trouble. Now. Where are you?”

“Well… Amsterdam.”

Let me backtrack somewhat.

I met Liam very recently and I’m not even sure how his story became part of the conversation. There was a general unhappiness on the job I was working on over people’s working hours being knocked by the powers that be. During this discussion people began swapping tales of other jobs. How bad they had been, how it had been difficult to get paid.

I have to say, Liam’s tale topped everything.

What I am about to relate to you happened. I can only hope I relay it in a way that does it and Liam justice.

Liam is a very genial, unassuming lad. You really wouldn’t look twice at him. Until you get talking to him.  Its only when you get into a conversation with  him that you see the hint of shy determination in him that hides behind a very easy going nature.

He was laboring on this site, basically lumping materials around for the trades and tidying up after they create their mess. No complaints, just cracks on with what he has to do always with a half smile that broadens as he talks.

He had begun out of the blue to relate  his own experience’s as we had all been moaning at the state of affairs on the current job – comparing hardships during our time on different  building sites..

“I was actually living in a squat at one point it was that bad.”

All eyes turned to Liam. The half smile still there.

“Christ mate. A squat? Really?”

“Yeah. Me mum wasn’t at home, she was up in Scotland. Just me and my dad. The day I turned 16 I left my old fellas house to move in with a mate. Had enough. Had to get out.”

I can  only assume on his circumstances at that point. For a 16 year old lad to leave home as soon as possible can only reflect on his living situation at his home.

“Yeah first chance. That was it. Boom. Gone.”

“What about work?”

“Odd jobs here and there.  I stayed with different mates on and off until eventually I got a job in a bingo hall.”

“Really? Good for you lad. Own place then or still sharing? How did the squat come about?”

“Like I say, I was working and earning, but my mate wasn’t paying his bills. So that was it. Evicted.”

“So what did you do?”

“We broke back  in. Got through a window each night and slept on the floor.”

“Jesus. What about heating? Water?”

“Nah. No heating, but yeah, water was still on. Just cold though. And I’m not kidding – it was a freezing winter.”

“Cold then. Christ no heating?”

“You get through it don’t you?”

That statement of the situation, the resignation that the living environment he was just in was the norm, a state of affairs to survive one day at a time. It was a bit sad really. What I mean is, for a person to be in that position and be resigned to it as part of normal life, well. Take a good look around your own home. Stripped of everything, just an empty shell. Can you imagine not having the luxury of heating? No hot water? No furniture? Sleeping on the floor?

And getting up and still trying to work in a job and survive? Get enough money together to make a difference to your existence and change those circumstances.

I have to say – credit to Liam. To still try and live a normal life in that situation, but also a little sad that it could be considered a normal existence.

Could you do it?

Anyway. Everyone has a tipping point.  The straw that broke the camels back arrived.

The flat had deteriorated with the lack of maintenance and there was a burst. The ceiling came down only adding to the living difficulties. The landlord found out they were squatting in the flat and they were evicted. Liam found himself with nowhere to stay still trying to raise enough money to sort the situation out.

He began sleeping rough in a local park, cleaning himself up at work, doing his day job then passing the time till he had to head back to the park for the night. A difficult circle.

This improved slightly when another friend offered him a bed to sleep on. Then another bombshell.

His weekly pay at the Bingo hall changed to monthly. And when payday finally arrived his wages were massively short.

“What they had done right, was anything over 30 hours was deducted and put aside as holiday pay. I had 60 hours in!”

“Didn’t you explain your situation?”

“Nah. Too much information. I was massively pissed off. Anyway I thought “Fuck it.” I’m sorting this.”

“So what happened?”

“Well I said I worked in the Bingo hall?”


“Well I worked in the cash office.”

I think everyone shared a sidelong glance at this point.


“Yeah. Long story short? Safe was open. Loose bag of cash and a box I knew had money in it. Under the coat and Off. Didn’t even look back.”

“Christ. I mean, you must have known they were going to come after you?”

“Well yes and no. At that point I didn’t give a fig about what was going to happen. What more could go wrong in my life really?”

He’d really caught every ones attention at this point.

“So what happened?”

“I got home – bit of a blur really – but straight into my room and emptied the bag and the box on the bed.”

“Much there?”

It was a sort of breathless question thrown in by one of the lads. All eyes fixed on Liam.

“Much there? Fuck me. There was money all over the bed!”

People started laughing, it was hard to take it seriously, this steady eyed young lad, relaying what had happened with a half smile, widening  with each hoot of laughter from the listening group. It was all told in such a matter-of-fact way.

“Christ almighty! How much?”

“Well there was around 28 fucking  grand stacked up when I managed to count it.”

28 Grand!”

“Yeah! Couldn’t believe it!”

“What did you do? Surely the police were on the way?”

“That’s what I thought. So I threw some things in a bag with the money and had it away!’

“Your kidding! Where did you go?”

“Well, first off I jumped a train to York. Then realized there were cameras everywhere. Then I remembered I had  a mate in Luton. So jumped back on the train and headed down there.”

“What? Then took cover down there?”

“No. When I showed my pal what I had he was all for partying. So he  drove us over to France through the tunnel.”

“Fuck. Me.”

“Then on to Amsterdam. Proper Party!”

“Your joking.”

“No. Really. It was in the papers and everything!’ Police were looking everywhere for me!”

“So what then?”

“Well, it never occurred to us to take any ID. So every hotel we went to wanted passports. Couldn’t get in anywhere. It hadn’t been a problem driving over – no borders these days!”

The group listening to all this had been descending into laughter as the tale unfolded.

“So all that money burning a hole and nowhere to stay? Jesus – its a home away from home!”

“Ha! Yeah!.We just kept trying places until we found somewhere that didn’t ask for ID.”

“How long were you there? What were the police doing?”

We were over there seven weeks all told. And the police were running round over here like headless chickens trying to find us.”

“What did you do?”

“Spend mate. And spend some more. I have to say, I remember the time there but its all a bit vague to be honest. We just spent every fucking penny.”

“28 grand in 7 fucking weeks ! Jesus!”

“I know!”

“You could have got a flat or something – no mither off the police and spread it out! It was like a years pay!”

“We did mean to do that. But by the end of the first week we were doing and trying everything –  we didn’t know what fucking day it was never mind organize the next year.”

The listening group was falling about itself.

“Anyway. After a couple of weeks we kept hearing bits from people at home. It was starting to sink in how serious it was.”

“Ah. Right. Give your selves up?”

“Well we tried to.”

Tried to?”

Plan A.

First of all they had gone to a local police station in an effort to hand  themselves in to the law. The first station they called into they were met by an officer  on the reception desk and greeted him with,

“Alright pal. We need  to give ourselves up.”

The officer stared at them. The policeman sat behind had stopped what he was doing and was looking on with interest.

“Give yourselves up?”

Asked the first.

“Yeah. That’s right lad. Hand ourselves in. We’re on the run. Like Bonnie and Clyde. He’s bonnie. I’ll be Clyde.”

Liams friend interrupted.

“Which one was Bonnie?”

“That was the bird.”

“Fuck off. I’m not being Bonnie. I’ll be Clyde.”

Liam sighed and turned back to the copper who was listening to their conversation along with his colleague, their heads going left and right following the exchange.

Liam sighed again and turned back to his sidekick.

“Right. Alright then. Like  Butch and Sundance.”

then adds,

“I’m Sundance. You’re Butch. He’s a fella.”

“Get in.”

Butch punches the air satisfied.

“Hand yourselves in….?”

The officer said raising his eyebrows inviting Liam to continue.

“Oh yeah. We need to go back to England. I nicked some money. I think we best go back and face the music mate.”

“Stole some money. Okay.  And How much did you take?”

“28 thousand pounds.”

The officer  stared at them for a moment then turned to his friend. There was a flurry of Dutch  between them, the side kick behind asking a question  while his compatriot on the reception nodded agreement and turning back to the two master criminals stood before him.

“Have you been visiting our Cafe’s in the city? Where you can smoke the interesting cigarettes?”


Liam confused admitted he had in fact visited those establishments. And yes, imbibed.


“Yes mate. Cracking places. Very impressed. Aren’t we Butch?’

“Ah. I see. You think this is a joke. You think the Dutch police are stupid. You wish to waste out time yes? I think you should go back to one of those places and slow down with what you smoke.”

“No mate. Seriously. We need to get home. What’s the best way?”

A flurry of Dutch was exchanged again with the officer on the desk nodding agreement again with his partner and turning back to Butch and Sundance.


Time for plan B.

They were then forced to attempt to contact the UK police directly. Which takes us back to the conversation at the beginning.

Amsterdam! Do you think this is funny son? Do you think we’re fucking idiots?  Don’t you think your in enough trouble as it is? We know you were heading to Australia! Ha! Your mate’s have spilled the beans! They said you always wanted to go there!”

Liam looked at us and said in astonishment.

“It great isn’t it. It just goes to show how people don’t  listen to you. I always said I wanted to go to fucking Amsterdam!”

The officer in the mean time wouldn’t have any of it.

“Listen son. There’s no way your anywhere but in this country. Stop pissing about and either go to your local  cop shop or tell us where you are.”

Liam hung up and looked at his mate.

They went out and bought a camera. Then wandered all over Amsterdam over the next couple of weeks taking pictures of themselves at recognizable Dutch venues. Then, emailed the pictures back to Columbo in the UK.


The reaction was one of stunned silence. Then the wheels of justice spun into place with the boys receiving instructions to hand themselves in (again) while the UK police arranged to bring them back.

Plan C.

The next Dutch police station they visited had another two similar officers in the reception.

Liam rested his elbows on the desktop resigning himself to the coming conversation and began again.

“Hello pal. We need to hand ourselves in.”

The vacant stare, raised eyebrows  and invitation to continue from the officers.

“Yeah. Well. I stole 28 thousand pounds and need to go back to the UK and  face the police.”

The two officers exchanged long looks. Then a urgent conversation in Dutch followed.

“28? Thousand?”

“Yeah. That’s right.”

(Exchange looks again.)

“Have you boys visited our famous cafe’s yes?”

“Whoa whoa whoooooa cocker! We’ve had this conversation at the last place.”

“But, 28 thousand? Pounds?”

“Well yeah. But I’ve got to admit, its taken a right battering.”

Admitted Liam.

Another machine gun of Dutch conversation hammered out between the officers with the guy at the reception desk turning to Butch and Sundance.

“We don’t like British police here. They make – how do you say?”

(Turning and asking  his colleague)

“Ah. just so.”

(as he answered)

“As my friend says. They make too much paper work. You leave now. Stay in Amsterdam.”

He said, gesturing them to the door.

“Wha.. Stay?”

Asked Liam. He stood with his  friend  uncomprehending, mouths open.

“Yes. Your free to go. Stay.”

And I swear this is what they were told.

You’ll be good for the Dutch economy.”

Before they were pushed out the door.

There followed a couple more weeks where the lads took the Dutch at their word and spent and spent. And spent some more. Drugs and women mainly.


And the camera they had to buy to prove they were in Holland. Seven week it took to organize their return to UK justice. Seven weeks of excessive spending. By the time the British police had got into fourth gear and organized their return, the money was all but gone.

“I spent the last of it on a bottle of water at the airport on our return.”

said Liam.

“And I had it confiscated at customs because it exceeded the fucking designated allowance.”

They returned to Blighty expecting the worst. They had liberally spent the 28 thousand. On nothing substantial really. Five star hotel, women and drugs do add up after all.

“We were picked up at the airport and pushed into a prison van, to be driven back up to Bradford.”

Liam continued.

“I have to say, we had a fantastic time with the money. Fucking fantastic. But were expecting the full force of the law to hit us. When the van pulled over in the middle of no-where and the back doors opened,  we were told to get out.”

Which they did, with some reluctance.

“Well, we thought we were in for a right fucking pasting after how stupid we’d made the police look. But the guys driving us gave us a ciggie each and began asking how the fuck we’d got away with it. It was brilliant.”

When they arrived back they were locked in a cell with another occupant.

“This guy, had murdered someone the night before. Proper murdered someone. We were shitting ourselves. But – honest to God – he was sound.”

added Liam slightly round eyed with surprise as he told us.

“Honest – he just laughed his head off when we told him what we had done.”

Yeah, cos he’s a fucking lunatic I’m thinking.

“So this guys laughing and suddenly says he’s going to put a word in with his Brief. Says he’s bang on. But, he doesn’t do Pro Bono work and can’t guarantee he’ll take the job. But – guess what?”

“He did?”

“He did! Said he’d never seen a case like it and had to take it. Just to see how it ended!”

During the preliminary hearing in court the prosecution demanded that they be refused bail. They were a flight risk. They couldn’t be trusted.

They had spent all the money!

But as their Brief argued, the lads had tried to hand themselves in several times. It wasn’t their fault they had had to spend the money to survive. It was all they had to live on. What else could they do but spend it on but a good shag and a big joint?

And after all, it had taken the British police force seven weeks to apprehend them. Even when they tried to hand themselves in after week 2…

So bail was granted but as Liam said,

“I went to stay with my mum up in Scotland. But It wasn’t ideal. I had to come back to Bradford and sleep on friends floors in the end.”

By the end of this situation he was back to square one, sleeping rough in a local park.

“I was actually looking forward to getting sent down.”

He said.

“I mean. I was sleeping rough. Again. Fucking freezing, no food – nothing. Scratching by. Being sent down was an answer to be honest. Got me a bed and food. In the warm”

He found himself passing the time sat around the park, just waiting to go to court to be sentenced.

“I was sat in this park right, smoking a joint. Only,  this copper wanders over, catches me napping so to speak. I’m thinking oh fuck – I’m in enough trouble at it is, and I’m trying to stub it out and act normal with the haze of weed  floating around me. Only this copper yeah, come’s up and pats me on the elbow and say “Good luck in court son.”…”

Its sad, this whole thing, when you think it through. Liam’s not a criminal. Not a die-hard law breaker. he was put in a situation by circumstances beyond his control. He made the wrong choice at the time but it was one under the duress of circumstances. At least tried to correct that choice and give himself up. I’ve been extremely fortunate enough to meet Liam, and, I have to say – I was impressed – at the impact this whole situation has had on the direction he wants to take now. How clearly he has defined what impact he wants to make on society himself. But more of that shortly.

“They tried to make us take the debt on board, you know? The 28 thousand. Pay it off when we got a job – after the sentence – like a mortgage. But our brief – he was a star – argued if they gave us the debt we would only turn to crime to find the money to pay it off!  And the judge agreed!”

He was quite gleeful as he described the situation. Laughing as he told it. Not out of maliciousness, not at all. But finding the humour in the ridiculousness of the whole situation. It was sheer slapstick.

“The judge warned us at the beginning, we were looking at a recommended  sentence of between 5 and 7 years. I have to say I shit myself at that point. But I had left a note when I took the cash.”

Liam had in fact left a note for his employers when he removed the money. Which he said was meant as a sarcastic note.

A “fuck you” to the man in charge.

“I wrote a note, just said “Sorry I had to take the money” with a big fuck off smiley face on it. You know? A two fingers to my bosses. Only, the judge decided that it showed remorse for what I had done. Remorse!”

He was laughing as he told us, and we laughed with him.

“When the  judge read out the sentence all I heard was 15. My arse fell out, I have to say. But what he actually said was 15 months. I couldn’t believe it! 15 months! I was out in 4 and a half!!”

Four and a half months for stealing and spending 28 thousand. What a result.

Speaking to Liam the other day, I have to admit I’ve tried to get down pat as much clear information as possible, to do the lad justice.

“So what are your plans these days lad?”

I asked him.

“Doing a foundation course for a year then Uni to do a degree, then a master’s. I want to help those people in unfortunate situations. I’ know how it feels to have no one care about you. What you need. The fact that you don’t actually matter. I want to work for the UN in war zones. Make a difference.”

And I have to say. Looking in his matter-of-fact eyes, I believe he will make an incredible difference if he gets the opportunity. See, Liam really knows what its like to sit at the bottom of the tree. To not matter to society. To be invisible.

But I had to ask him finally what happened to Butch, his side kick in Holland. And he filled in the final blank in the story.

“My mate – the lad who drove us over? He got away with community service as he wasn’t actually involved in the robbery. Hadn’t done the stealing of the money. Just helped me spend it.”

“Got off lightly really didn’t he Liam?”

“Well, not really. The thing was, he didn’t turn up for his community service  and was sent down instead.”

“That fucking idiot did more time than I did!”

Caravanning With Deano



I shouted in delight at the figure ambling into the site entrance. I had just spent a previous 4 weeks working in Bangor, Wales, on what was then an Abbey National refurbishment. With Bob for the first couple of weeks, then finishing the last couple on my own. And finally following Bob down to this job in Birmingham.

Its not that I minded working on my own, but working on my own, away from home with nobody to bounce off can become monotonously boring. And I was a little stir crazy by the time I followed Bob down to the job in Birmingham. So when Deano walked through the gates it was like balm on a tortured soul.

I’d first worked with Dean some 12 months previously in his home town, Doncaster up in Yorkshire. Dean was one of only two local lads to work on the job, re-fitting a night club in the center of town. At first I must admit I hardly spoke to him, more my natural reticence to new faces, and the fact that I was so busy on other things. Really, we hardly exchanged a word and I just watched him from a distance trying to decide if I liked him or not.

Dean had a razor sharp wit and could be cutting with it. Utterly dry with his observations. But he also had a sense of pure self mockery and tales he would come out with would often include a lot of self ridicule.

I was working on a raised dance floor at one point and became aware of Deano, who had wandered over, standing like he did, a slight slump in all his movements, half lidded eyes and lazy smile. He always looked laid back and lethargic even, like he chose not to have the energy for anything urgent. I’d never really spoken to him before so carried on concentrating on the work in front of me.

I was routering out sections on the treads of the steps, to fit some lights into the nosings. A router you understand is a sturdy body, in this case about the size of a blender, with a handle either side to grip, a trigger on one handle which when activated, began turning the cutter blade on the underside of the machine. You would lower the machine to the piece of work, pull the trigger and draw the router towards you letting the cutter do its job.

But you had to be careful.

So as Deans presence permeated on my concentration I turned to find him stood watching me, smoking his cigarette, with his head cocked in a contemplative way and the half smile ever present.

“Aye. I had a go on one of those things once.”

“Did you mate?” I asked wondering where he was heading with it.

“Yep. On a dance floor too actually. Had to bluff it a bit. I’d never used one before.”

“Hadn’t you mate? How did you find it? Does a nice job with a sharp cutter doesn’t it?”

“Well, so I’d heard, which is why I bought it. But as I set it down the fucking thing dragged me face down across the floor and machined a big groove in it. But aye, it was sharp as fuck alright..”

And had me laughing and I don’t think I stopped in all the time I worked with him.

We became good friends on that job and I was sad to move onto another when it finally came to an end. I didn’t see him for a while as he had work at home and no need to work away. So it was with a great deal of pleasure that he came strolling onto the job in Birmingham. He had lost some weight too and looked leaner and healthier.

“Deanoo! Looking good pal! How are you? Sight for sore eyes mate! Where you staying??”

“Not sure mate. ‘Av only just arrived. Where the lads digging?”

“Never mind that. You’re staying with me. Room in Bobs caravan.”

I was living on the work site on this job, in Bob the agents old, decrepit 2 bed caravan. I’ve mention Bob briefly in Fred West The Capet Layer. You couldn’t swing a cat in it. It was two seats-come-beds at one end, a sink opposite the door at the other, with room for a cupboard, and in between the door and the immediate bed, a unit and worktop with space for the microwave. Which Dean duly provided. Hello beans and ready meals! Bob had bought himself a new flashy caravan, double the size of his old one. He had abandoned me as a rent payer to his freezing old caravan, and moved all of 12 foot away into his new, warm, boudoir. With shower.

It had been growing steadily colder during the night, and Bobs old caravan leaked heat in such a way that I would have been warmer with the door open. I had even taken to going to bed with more and more clothes on, till it got to the point I was going to bed fully clothed, with my coat on during one particularly bad night. I went to sleep praying to God that I’d wake up in the morning. It was that cold. And when I did wake up, (ThankyouGod) the whole of the inside of the caravan myself included, was covered in frost..

So when Dean said,

“That’s smashing pal. Where can I put my stuff?”

I resisted the urge to say “On top of you when you go to sleep if you want to wake up.” He’d find out soon enough.

“Just chuck it in we’ll sort it later. Blimey! You’ve lost some weight lad!”

“Wellll, bit of a story. Not had much appetite to be honest.”

And he began to fill me in.

He’d finally decided to work away after a recently splitting with his long term girlfriend. He had discovered that she was having an affair with someone at work, a lad 10 years Deans junior. She worked in a local super store as a manager, and this young lad worked on the floor. Dean, obviously wounded had gone to the store, creating a huge scene and confronted the young lad. The lad obviously embarrassed, had denied all involvement and had been left screaming for someone to call the police, when Dean in his rage had grabbed the lad, and proceeded to drag him by the throat around the store like a rag doll. With various people hanging onto him trying to get him to release the half-throttled boy.

“As it turned out,” continued dean, “It was the wrong lad. And I half battered him before the police arrived and dragged me off to the cells for the night.”

Not to be deterred from his revenge, Dean then took to hiding in the car park behind the bushes by his ex’s car. Unable to see her from the bushes, he was relying on the sound of two doors opening and closing to confirm she had a passenger in the car with her. Sure enough he heard her approaching the car and a door open then close. Then a second door open and close.

“That’s was it! I knew I had the fucker! As the lights came on, I ran round the bushes as she reversed out and threw my self on the car shouting, “Gerrout you fucker! You’ve had it now!!!”

Only there was nobody in the car with her.

What she had done was get to the car and open the passenger door and throw her bag in. Shut the door, walk round then open the drivers door and get in. In the time it took to start the engine and reverse out, Ghengis Khan had run round the bushes and thrown himself prone like a limpet, on the bonnet roaring.

“And fuck me if she didn’t take off out of the car park with me on the bonnet hanging onto the windscreen wipers for dear life. I’m not kidding mate, she was screaming at me through the window and speeding up! I daren’t let go!”

“Jesus Deano!” I said already laughing. “How did you get off??”

“Not easily I tell you that for nowt! I’m hanging on to the windscreen wipers, so she turn the fuckin things on! Next thing I know, I’m flipping backwards-and-forwards across the bonnet, hanging on for dear life!! She must have realized I wasn’t letting go so she did the only thing she could!”

“Christ, what was that mate?”

“She slammed the anchors on!! From 40 mph to a standing stop! I landed 20 yards further on in the middle of Doncaster high street with one of the wipers in me hand, and half me pants hanging off me arse!”

“And did you catch up with this lad??”

“Jesus! Fuck no! After the police turned up and locked me up again, and charged me with criminal damage – wtf was I ‘sposed to hang onto? – I decided to call it a day. So here I am. Away from it all getting my life in order.

So we were back together again for the next 4 months. At the end of that time I had to finish working away and go back home as my wife was due with my daughter Holly. It was a good time. One wind up after another. Dean managed to set me up by watching my washing routine.

There was no shower block yet on site and I had taken to setting up in an old mop cupboard on the far side of the job. We were converting an old Sainsbury’s home base into a bingo hall. So you have an idea of the scale of the building. I would go over, lay paper over the filthy floor, set up a site fluorescent light and lay out my clean clothes ready to put on as soon as I was dry. Because speed was imperative as the only water available was cold. Cold water. In November. But 3 days was as long as I could stand with out a full body wash, then I’d crack and have to get soaped down. So I’d strip off, down to my birthday suit, start the tap running, take a breath then throw water over me till I was wet enough to get a lather with the soap. Then as quick as possible, lather up then wash it all off again, get dry and dressed and to say it was invigorating, would be an understatement.

Only this time, and this is who I believe was responsible, Dean had had the pipe fitter cut the feed to the mop room. So I set up lights, laid paper, stripped off, ran the tap and threw water all over myself. Turned the tap off while I lathered up, then, shivering, turned it on to wash the soap off again. Only to watch the final amount of water that remained in the pipes, trickle out..then stop.

While I stood, bollocko, squinting through soap, not quite believing this was happening till the penny dropped.

“Oh. Oh you fucking fucker! Wait till I….just wait! DEANOOOO!! You Yorkshire bastard!”

I managed to put some pants on and grabbed what I could and struggled off to the toilet block, some 300 yards distant, tripping over my laces the whole way. Where I had to strip off again, in the freezing air, and wash the remaining soap off.

I paid him back finally when he came back from a night out absolutely rat-legged drunk.

He had taken to partying in a big way, in an effort to get over his ex-girlfriend. He was out a fair few nights and working his way through a succession of girlfriends. This night he staggered in, his normal “I’m at ease in this world” face, half-lidded eyes now quarter lidded, favoring one more than the other in an effort to see straight.

I immediately saw a chance.

“Ok Deano? Good night?”

“Yeahyeah. S’mashin. S’good. bed. Sleep. Need close eyes.”

“Yeah ok mate. Get yourself lay down then.”

And he did just that. Didn’t bother getting undressed. Flat on his back snoring gently in no time.

I couldn’t resist it. I waited, I really did. Then when I was happy he was well away, I took my setting-out, indelible ink black felt-tip pen and drew the best curling mustache, goatee beard and glasses that I could. All the time I was sniggering and trying to suppress giggles by sticking my knuckles in my mouth as I drew.

And when I was done and sat admiring my handy-work, I had to turn the light off for fear I’d wake him up for laughing. And Instead, lay in the dark with my hands over my mouth trying to be quiet.

It took an age to go to sleep.

In the morning I took one look and had to get out. I rushed getting dressed and clattered out the door, throwing a ,

“Come on Deano! Time to get up son!!”

Then fairly ran to the site brew cabin where the other lads were arriving and starting a brew.

I told them briefly what I’d done and when Dean finally surfaced for his coffee, he was met by a wall of laughter as he came through the door.

“What? What is it?” He was asking looking himself up and down.

“What? Am I missing something? Is there something on my chin? What’s that bird done to me??” He said looking down cross-eyed and patting his face.

I must admit here, Dean was that good-natured, he must have known, but was just happy to let me have my moment.

I chalked it up to 1-1 anyway. Twat.

See, this was Dean. Laid back. If it made others laugh even at his own expense, he just didn’t mind. I think he enjoyed people laughing as much as laughing himself.

Finally I had to go home and so ended a great 4 months. Unusual for me because I hated being away from home. I didn’t see him for a while until he phoned me towards the end of that job.

“Deano!! How are you mate?”

“Yeah, fine Mike. Hows the baby?”

“Brilliant Dean. Not sleeping well but we’ll get past that.” (Yeah. 4 years later..) “How are you? How’s our caravan??”

“Aw mate! It Gone. Absolutely knackered!”

“What? You mean the cold got too much?”

“No! I mean Its Knackered! In pieces!!”

“What happened!?”

“Well, you know I was seeing that girl? The Copper?”

“Yeah? Got serious did it?”

“Serious? I’ll say serious! She only finished with her boyfriend to go out with me didn’t she! I never even knew until I went home for my week-end off and came back the following Monday. I drove into the car-park and whats the first thing I see??”

“Go-on. What?”

“My microwave. Smashed to pieces!”

“Your joking??!!”

“No mate! And that was the least of it! I turned to where my caravan was parked up and it was gone!”

“Gone?! Someone nicked it??”

“No mate! Someone had rolled it – and I don’t mean by the wheels – I mean rolled it over and over. It was smashed to fuck!”

It turned out, that this girl he had been dating had a boyfriend whom she promptly dumped to start seeing Dean. Only this ex-boyfriend was that bit more persistent where Dean had seen sense. He had waited for the site to empty for the week-end then climbed over and rolled Deano’s caravan over and over in the car park, shedding the interior as it went. Until it was literally smashed to bits and pieces.

“So I’ve moved in with Bob.” he finished.

Of course. I laughed. More, probably, than I did with the felt-tip.

Unfortunately I lost touch with Dean as family life took precedent. The last time I saw him was at my dad’s funeral and I’ll never forget the effort he made to get there.

Because, that was just Deano.

Finally, I hadn’t see Dean for a couple of years until my mum went on holiday.

My mum met a Yorkshire lad on holiday in Greece and like she does, she asked him 500 questions and got round to asking him where he was from. It turned out he was from Doncaster. And you need to understand my mum to realize she’ll talk to anyone. I mean, ANYONE. She’s has a natural talent of putting people at ease, and she will be gossiping away about something, that some total stranger will suddenly realize they have in common with her. She’s the only person I know who can go anywhere and know someone. So, like she does, when she found out he was from Doncaster, the very first question she asked was,

“You don’t know Dean (we’ll call him Smith) do you”

Bear in mind Docaster has a population of 60,000 and counting.

And do you know what this lad said?

I can see you know how this pans out.

“Blimey! I do as a-matter-of fact!”

And that’s how I managed to briefly get back in touch with him.

Until I moved house. Lost my damn contacts book and lost any contact I had with my good friend Deano.

But I’ve never forgotten the times I spent with him where I can honestly say I laughed every day.

Where ever you are mate, I hope it’s all gravy.

Fred West The Carpet Layer..


I spent a number  of years shop fitting and bar fitting.

This type of joinery is a mainly clean and a better quality. And dry.No slogging through mud on a sites, hands numb from lumping half-frozen, wet timber to a plot your working on, tripping over everything because there’s no light to see by.

The shop fitting and bar fitting side tends to be working on night clubs, bars, cinemas, bingo halls, shop chains..a much better environment to work in. The only down side can be it tends to involve working away from home, 7 day weeks, 12 hour days or even nights.

I worked for one firm in particular for around 5 years on and off. I’d spend something like 8 months or so, working away, home every 2nd weekend, until I reached a point when I just needed to be at home. I’d just miss my wife and kids too much. Then I’d get work closer to home until that dried up then go back working away..

One job in particular I worked on, in Liverpool, in a place called Huyton. It was a new build large Bingo hall. It was basically a new empty structure, somewhere on the scale of a super market, just ready to be fitted out with bars, podiums, seats and decoration.

I started working on there with my dad and Tex, a joiner I’ve spent a large part of my working life working with on and off. We used to take turns sharing the driving and fuel in travelling to and from the job each day. Others on the job I’d worked with before were some scouse lads, Terry and Gary, 2 brothers. Terry I’d worked with on a number of jobs for the same firm and had had some real belly laugh moments with him. He had a habit when he was sharing a bit of gossip, of speaking out of the side of his mouth, like a scouse version of Popeye. His eyes would be scanning his surroundings while he was shiftily divulging his current tit bit, to make sure nobody else was near enough to hear. Adding to this was Terry’s other 2 brothers, Joe and Paul who then brought their brother-in-law George into the mix. It was really like a family gathering at that point.

Another feature on the job was the table tennis. We would organize a competition during break times. The idea was to get Bob the foreman playing who was incredibly competitive and would do almost anything to win. What Bob didn’t know was we pre planned his turn to play, then who ever was playing him would let him win so that these brew times became longer. He would drop his bat to the table on winning a match point and strut around with his arms in the air on winning. Again.

I’m sure with Queens “We are the champions” going through his head.

And it would be,

“Aww. Bollocks. You win again Bob! I don’t know how you became so good. I (Whoever was playing) just can’t compete!”

Whilst everyone else would congratulate Bob and jeer at the current loser…

“I knew you’d win again Bob! Yeah! You whupped that a loser!! Blimey, no holding you back Bob!! Like a machine!!!”

And this would go on each time he played. The only time it really got seriously competitive was when bob couldn’t take part. Then it was brutal. No mercy. People would be limbering up before a game. Press ups and sit up all over the place! There were bats getting flung down and ping-pong balls stamped on in fury! In particular, the competitiveness between the brothers was intense in the extreme. A couple of time the bats would be thrown down and the lads would be nose-to-nose squaring up over some taunt or dropped point.

“You dirty cheatin’ bastard ya!”

“Who you callin’ a cheatin bastard? Lost again and spittin ya dummy out! You always was a girl – even when you were a kid! You even threw like a girl!!”

“Who you callin a fuckin girl?? Here-” Bat thrown at other brother “- Does a fuckin girl throw like that ya twat??!!”

Then it was “Whoooooooaaaaaaaaaa!! Calm down lads! Its only a game! Lets not fall out ffs!”

“He called me a girl! Wanker!!”

“Who you callin a wanker??”

table tennis

Jesus. And off they’d go again. We spent more time getting between the brothers. We had to spend time fiddling the draws so they didn’t play each other. Trouble was they were more competitive and unfortunately, better than the rest of us, so it wasn’t long before they were playing each other anyway, with the inevitable fall outs that followed.

It cost a fortune in Ping-Pong balls.

Another feature on the job was a local character known as Tony Beep Beep. An utterly pleasant lad. Aorund 20 years old when I came across him. He obviously had his own issues but was always smiling and would stand in the central reservation on the main road shouting,


And give a thumbs up to passing cars. He was like a scouse road runner. He was made up when cars beeped their horns back at him in reply.

We first noticed him while we were sat in the cabin having a brew and talk gradually died as we suddenly became aware of this young lad, nose pressed against the window, with a slightly manic grin and megawatt stare. And as everyone turned to look who it was, he suddenly stuck 2 thumbs up and went,


Who. The fuck is that??” asked Bob the foreman.

“Beep beep mate!” Terry shouted back

“Aw ‘ey lad,” he said to Bob, “Thats just Tony Beep Beep.”

And proceeded to explain about him.

“The kids harmless. Just gets a kick out of beeping at the traffic. No worries.”

So Tony would wander onto the site car park shout “Beep beep!” a few times, give the thumbs up, then someone would take him in hand and lead him off again.

“Come on Tony lad, Can’t be wandering around on here son.”

It finally came to a head when we were coming out of the cabin to find him reversing the unknowing contracts manager into a parking spot.

“Come on mate! Come on! Beep beep! Come on! Come onnnnnnnnn-” Crunch. “Aw ‘ey mate, you’ve hit that bollard!”

And off he ran.

Alan jumped out of his car to inspect the damage then turned to watch Tony galloping off. He wasn’t happy.

“Who the fuck was that?? I thought he worked for us when he started parking me up! I was over there -” he gestured to the other side of the car park, “And he shouted me over here and started guiding me in!! Who was that??!!”

“That’s Tony beep beep Alan. On your way out give him a honk on the horn as you pass. You’ll see him in the middle of the road beeping at traffic. It’ll make his day mate….”

“Keep him off this fucking site!”

So that was the last we saw of Tony unless we passed him on the way home where he would be stood, turning either way, grinning, thumbs up and beep-beeping everyone good enough to honk their horns at him.

He was a well known character in the area. I can’t begin to tell you how saddened I was to later hear he was killed in a hit and run. He was a quite vital personality. For his obvious problems, I’m sure its a face that’s missed by many.

The other notable person on the site was Fred West the carpet layer.

Not the Fred west obviously, (Mass Murderer)but a doppleganger who was working on site. And I mean, he was a double of Fred. Which is how he earned his nickname. It wasn’t hard winding him up either. He was bad tempered most of the time and the nickname just aggravated him to new heights.

“Fred, you need to move your rolls of carpet mate.”

“Don’t call me Fred! You know I don’t like it!!”

“Come on Fred, just kidding pal!”


So as you can imagine. Everyone called him Fred. Brew time Fred. Sugar Fred? Home time Fred..

Fred finally flipped when he unrolled a carpet to find a missing corner. It was something tiny, like a 4 foot by 2 and a half foot piece. And something that small off a roll of carpet 6m x 12m was nothing. It’d be lost in the waste.

Fred was apoplectic. Going off like a volcano.

“That’s fucking IT!!! I’m getting the police in! Called me fuckin Fred once too fuckin often!! Now you’ll be sorry! Ohhh yes! So sorry!!”

And off he marched to the site office. Where, Bob made him sit him down and cool off. Explaining what a fool he was making of himself. Inside nobody took any notice. Fred was always upset. Really, he was just lining himself up for more aggro by making a ridiculous issue.

My dad had other ideas though. He wandered over to where I was working for a quiet word.

“Tex had the carpet. ” He murmured.

“Its in the boot of the car. Cut it off first thing and stuck it in. Its for his porch on the front of the house. Going to wind him up. Pop over in ten, I’ll have him cooking by then. Just jump in and fan the flames.”

So I waited for ten minutes or so before heading over to find Tex sweating already.

“Jesus. have you heard? Freds phoned the police! What are we going to do?”

“What do you mean we? I haven’t nicked some carpet! How do you know he phoned the police anyway?

“Your dads just told me. Fred’s had a rant and shot off to see Bob in the office. Went to phone the Busies!”

And, I still can’t believe this, as he said it, we all turned to look across the site to the entrance on the opposite side of the building. And as we did, a lone copper walked in, took a good look around and walked out again.

“Ohhhhhhfuck.” moaned Tex, visibly wilting.

I looked over his head at my dad with eyebrows raised but he just shrugged helplessly and shook his head. He had no idea why a copper was here either. It was heaven sent.

“Shit Tex! They’re here for you! Christ that was quick! What you going to do?? How far can you run????”

“I don’t know!! Awwwwwshiiiit!”

And it went from there. We gradually included other people into the set up, telling Joe and George. I took them to one side and just said,

“Pop over, tell Tex the police have had you in the office over the carpet. keep him sweating.”

By this point mind it was mid afternoon and Tex really had been sweating on it most of the day. Normally he would bring a sandwich box into work, with the mantra of eating “small but often”. This involved carrying round a sandwich box that would feed an infant school, from which he would have something to eat at each break. At this point Tex had been unable to bring himself to eat anything. Going various shades as each piece of new development was brought to him by different people during the day.

Joe and George jumped on their chance with relish.

“Aw ‘ey lad! They’ve had us in the office!” began Joe.

“Yeah! And their only going to charge us! Said we were last seen near it!”

“Yeah! Said we nicked it! That’s racism against Scousers that is!”

“Your goin to have to come clean Tex!”

You could actually see Tex looking to the heavens mouthing “Thank you God” then.

“Your just going to have to take the rap lads!”

I must admit there was a moments breath-taking pause, as everyone looked at each other as they realized he was throwing Joe and George to the dogs. Then the rest of us just started laughing.

“Fuck me Tex! Your goin to let them do us?? We’re innocent though!!” Shouted George

“Yeah!! That’s racism that is!!” Threw in Joe.

Whilst I couldn’t resist,

“Whooaaa Tex! Jesus! That’s a bit raw mate! No half measures there then! Fuck ya’s all! Your going down! I love it!! You’re bolloxed boys! Tex just sold you down the river! You’ll be in the Chokey before tea-time!!!”

And it went like that till Tex finally had to admit what he was sweating over.

The week before he had been shopping in Asda and spied an electric planer. Having a good look at it he realized the price tag was loose. As were the price tags on other items. So with a bit of careful maneuvering, he swapped price tags.

Saved himself a few bob.

Where it all went wrong was as he went through the till to pay. When asked if he wanted the warranty on the new tool he replied “yes”. So the girl offered him the paper work, he filled in his name and address..

The police knocked on his front door about an hour later.

“So I can’t lads! I’m up in court next week! If I get done for this, I’ll be up shit creek without a fucking canoe, never mind a paddle!!!”

Everyone was left momentarily goggled eyed and open-mouthed in amazement, until it finally erupted in laughter at Tex’s predicament.

“Its not funny!! I’m in the shit here!!”

So while it was extremely entertaining we finally had to tell him it was a wind up.

Strangely enough he kind of deflated and slid down the wall…