Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The sweet smell of success

The wind it doth blow outside today, but not as much as it bloweth further north - at least I still have all the roofs to my chicken sheds - as far as I know. Soon the temperature will drop, and I'll be justified in sporting me new titfer at the weekends.

Yesterday, I lit the little stove in my workshop and almost finished drawing out the 1/4 ton frieze panel ready for carving, but it was frosty rather than wet. The acoustics of our part of the valley are such that the whole day was punctuated by distant bursts of heavy machine-gun fire, coming from somewhere in the direction of Devizes - fired by (I guess and hope) the military.

At one point, a heavily armed attack helicopter flew over and hovered around before swooping off in the direction of the mock battle, and on several occasions the array of rocketry slung beneath it pointed at little, innocent me - a dot in the landscape looking up in fear and admiration. It could have blown me off the face of the earth as easily as Nato takes out Pakistani check-points, but didn't. Phew.

In the past, I have had the local police helicopter hovering above my workshop for prolonged periods of time. This aircraft also doubles up as the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and we are regularly asked to make donations to help keep it in the air, ferrying seriously injured crash victims to Frenchay hospital. I wonder how many criminals have financially supported it, not knowing that the infra-red gear beneath it would one day (or night) pick them out like a rabbit in the headlights as they try to make their escape from an armed robbery or simple mugging.

The reason why it regularly hovers above my workshop is that it is looking for skunk (the notoriously smelly drug-weed) farms. When the infra-red lights are turned on in the winter daylight, they are trying to spot roofs of isolated out-buildings which are abnormally hot from the use of 24 hour UV lamps which speed up the growth of the cannabis plants basking inside.

An acquaintance (note the careful use of language here) of mine once asked if he could hire one of my workshops to grow cannabis in, and I immediately said 'no'. When he told me that he would give me £20,000 for six months hire, I thought about it for a short while, then reluctantly said no again, wiping a tear from my old and rheumy eye. It's a good job I did. The trouble was that this guy was a renowned duffer with the worst luck of anyone I have ever met. He was once struck by lightening.

He ended up renting a house in the outskirts of town, and setting up a drugs-farm on the upper floors, with an ordinary and innocent family living downstairs. He spent several thousand pounds setting up the equipment, which included UV lamps and an automated watering system which was plumbed into the mains supply, bought the genetically modified seeds from Holland, planted them in the sandy boxes and just sat back and waited for the stuff to grow.

For a while, everything went extremely smoothly and he proudly told me that all he had to do was go to the house about once a month to collect bin-liners full of cannabis, plant more seeds and repeat the process, gathering thousands of pounds of profit in between times.

Then one day he received a phone-call from the house agent, telling him that he had sprung a serious water leak in his apartment and the family downstairs had been flooded out, with all the ceilings caved in over their heads. The game was up.

He thought about it, and came to the conclusion that there was nowhere to hide, so decided to hand himself in to the local police station in the hopes of receiving a more lenient sentence by showing remorse.

He plucked up the courage and marched up the steps of Bath police station, introducing himself to the desk sergeant and confessing all. The policeman looked at him with a bemused expression on his face, then said "I don't know what you're talking about. I have no record of any such crime being reported."

Not believing his luck, he turned around and began skulking out of the station, then the copper shouted back at him with a huge grin:

"Only joking! Come back here!"


  1. He got a 6 month sentence with a fine, and was tagged from leaving his house between 7 in the morning and 6 in the evening.

  2. I once met a French guy who claimed that in the 60's, when a student at Cambridge, he'd knocked up a large amount of acid that he then sold to a London dealer. He said his profit was several hundred thousand pounds; enough at that time to have bought half the Cote d'azure.... I wonder what became of him?

  3. LSD was 50p a pill in about 1975, so he must have knocked up a hell of a lot. I knew a few people who were involved in the 'Operation Julie' raid of the 70's, and when the police broke into the Welsh farmhouse, the place was so saturated that the coppers had to take sick leave - they were tripping for about a month afterwards (much to everyone's unworthy amusement). This is why they always wear forensic white suits, gloves and face masks now.

  4. That was me Tom, in the attack chopper.

    I'd typed in t.o.m.s.t.e.p.h.e.n.s.o.n.l.u.s.h. into the targeting computer thingy and hovered just below the tree line, hellfires armed...

  5. As usual, you made me laugh Tom. When I saw the photo I thought of that corny old song, The Laughing Policeman. When my son was little there was a programme called 'Childrens' Favourites' on the radio every Saturday morning. It was always the same few records requested (Max Bygraves singing 'I'm a pink toothvbrush', and that one about the laughing policeman.

  6. 'Attack Chopper'? Don't make me laugh, Chris.

    Yes, that was THE laughing policeman, Weaver - I think he was investigating the murder of Max Bygraves when that picture was taken.

  7. tee hee
    we had a "skunk" far, here in trelawnyd a couple of years ago! it was situated in an abandoned house right in the centre of the village....
    I wonder if the police copter located it?

  8. Did you mean "Skunk" 'fart', John?

  9. mind you "skunk fart" sounds rather good

  10. Sounds good, smells good, and - by golly - it does you good (but to paraphrase Johnson, better in than out).