Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chapter 17.


Having parked on the sofa in answer to Parsons’ summons, JuIian stuffed the
remains of his ‘sarnie’ into his face and enquired – with his mouth full and
ejecting the odd crumb……..

“Mornin’ Guv’nor. What’s the prob, Mr P? – by the way, ‘Arthur’s Sword’
romped home at 66-1 in the Amblewick Stakes – cleaned up, ‘ave yer?”

“Julian, I did not request your presence here, in the library, to discuss the
Fakenham race card – welcome though your news may or may not have
been….. We have important matters about which to confer, and your input
may, I believe, prove helpful.”

He flicked some crumbs from the arm of the sofa, deftly absorbing them into
his napkin.

“I recall a conversation we had the other evening, Julian – with reference to
the raising of what I believe you referred to as ‘the readies’.”

“Thought yer said it was a non-starter, didn’t yer, Mr P?”

“Opinions change as they mature, Julian. Now refresh my memory - what was
it you had in mind?”

“Well yer see, Guv, there’s a mountain o’crap in all the barns and coach-
houses, innit? Where there’s crap there’s cash….. All yer need’s a car-boot
sale – make a right killin’, yer would…..”


I was about to protest, but Parsons was in there like a ferret.

“Milord, a weekly car-boot sale open to all the tenants and those further afield
might well be the answer to ‘a maiden’s prayer! – if that maiden, in this case
Amblewick, happened to be a little short of ‘cash-in-hand’, at the time.”

“Not the heirlooms and things, surely? Never hear the end of it – Trustees,
Cousin Marguerite, and so on - out of the question, what?”

“No, Milord, the stored objects - furniture and so on - are not of such
distinction. They are items purchased by Your Lordship’s esteemed father
during an extended passion he entertained for patronising the local sale-
yards during the period after the war when so many estates were torn apart
by taxation and socialist zeal. He was gracious enough, Milord, to clarify his
motive in the acquisition of the numerous auction ‘lots’…..

‘I like to believe, Parsons, that by rescuing a few items from the Bolshevik
Hurricane I am keeping them in the right hands – at least for a little while.’

The result, today, Milord, is a surplus of by no-means worthless, but –
according to your Lordship’s very discriminating Grandmother, the then
Dowager Marchioness – ‘unnecessary junk’. However, the years between
then, and now, have permitted inestimable increase in the value of that ‘junk’,

‘I say, buried treasure, what? But how could we convert it all into serious
folding, though?”

Julian was in his element.

“Piece o’cake, Guv’. Stuff a little ad in the local rag – something along these

He produced a rather grubby scrap of paper from his jeans pocket and handed
it to me.

I construed, with some difficulty.

Come ‘n Get It!

Weakly Car-boot Sayl

Ambelwig Park Evry Saterday 10 am – 4pm

Bier Tent - Layhgt Rifrashmints, Free Parkin, ECT

Bring ‘n Bay

Mayk Yerself a

Bob or Too

I re-kindled the old Meerschaum and passed on the ‘doc’ to Parsons.

Do you think it might really answer, Parsons, old dear? Sounds a bit – well,
bizarre, don’t you think?”

Parsons briefly re-perused the proposal.

“Under certain circumstances, Milord, ‘needs must when the Devil drives’,
perhaps - and might I add, Milord, that ‘bizarre’ does not necessarily
mean ‘ridiculous’. Furthermore, Milord, fanciful spelling has little to do with
foolishness and often a great deal to do with Dyslexia……..”

Lost as usual - but when Parsons backs a cause it’s only a blithering idiot who
says him nay.

“Point taken, old thing – so how should we proceed?

“Rather more a question of from ‘whence’ we should proceed, Milord. The
various estate barns and buildings simply bulge with possibilities.”

“Why don’t we ‘ave a crack at the Coach Houses, first orf? Loads o’stuff in
there - an’ it’s just across the way…..”

Jules clearly had a particular, pre-investigated haul in mind – and I assessed
that it might be a fruitful one. The young chap’s stable, ‘up the smoke’, might
well have endowed him with an ‘eye’ for opportunity and profit.

“Milord, there are clean boiler-suits in the utilities room – I feel we should
avail ourselves of them - the dust will be extensive after so many years. There
will also be advantage in the anonymity such garb will afford us during the
preliminary investigative stages of our project.”

I confess to it – the idea of ‘disguise’ appealed to me no end – the old brat
inside was much energised.

So that is what we did.

Fascinating it was. I’d had no idea of the stuff there was - just dumped under
our noses when I was a small boy more than seventy years before. I suppose
that when you live surrounded by beautiful things, there’s no great urge to
wonder if there might be more.

Our current lack of funds added mercenary zeal to my unashamed juvenile
excitement. We worked as one, the three of us – terriers at a fox-earth……

“Good heavens!” I ejaculated at one point. “Bless my soul – those drawers are
Sheraton, aren’t they?”

“Nah, bollicks! – Maples 1920 – look at the linings – brasses ain’t orjinal,

Julian’s dismissal of my Sheraton diagnosis inspired me with even greater
hope. We were in good hands. The boy’s education, whilst somewhat eclectic,
indicated a broader experience than mere BMX’s ‘fallin’ orf the backs of
lorries’ – yes, indeed!”

Parsons made lists and gave instructions as to how we should separate
the ‘readily saleable’ from the ‘frivolous’.

“We have to make sure that the items we select, Milord, are readily available to
us on the evening before the sale.”

“You said, ‘car-boot sale’, Jules – What do we do – load stuff onto the

“Most unsuitable, Milord. It must never be thought that Your Lordship is in the
process of launching himself into ‘trade’. Paternal affability as you observe the
antics of the populace should be your contribution to the business in hand. I
will give the matter further thought….”

“What yer need’s a ‘Tranny’, Guv’!”

Once again, I indicated puzzlement.

“I believe that the vehicle Julian recommends is more properly defined as
a ‘Ford Transit van’ – often the vehicle of choice for the aspiring young
tradesman – and even for somewhat less reputable persons, as in ‘general
dealers’ and ‘petty crooks’, Milord. The ‘Transit’ formula combines
considerable carrying capacity with a degree of speed and comfort.

“Yea, for snoggin’ and stuff.”

A mine of useful information, our Jules.

“Thank you, Julian, that will do, I think. However, Milord, I believe that such a
vehicle would indeed be ideal for our purposes ……”

“Where are we goin’ ter get one, that’s the big’un, innit?” Julian wondered.

“As it happens, Milord, ‘Young George’ at the Neptune has just such a vehicle
which he uses exclusively for his restoration business.”

Parsons’ slightly prim stress of the ‘exclusive’ use for which the ‘Tranny’ was
employed was pointedly directed at our Julian, I suspected.

“Hire it, could we?”

“I will investigate, Milord, when I go for my weekly pint of Worthington “E” at
his hostelry – after ‘Readings’ on Friday evenings.

“Good egg! Sounds hopeful then, what?”

“With your permission, Milord, I will draft a notice for the press – endeavouring
to stress the altruistic nature of your offer to open the Park for such an
occasion – community cohesion, inter-communal out-reach, and so on…..”

At this point, I interrupted……

“Fine, old thing, but don’t overplay the ‘philanthropics’ too much – after all
we’re really only pulling this jape to rustle up a few quid on our own account,

“Milord, the very fact that you have opened your Park to the world and
his wife, and propose doing so for the foreseeable future will be proof
positive that your motives are as pure as driven snow. Your own interest
in that opening will be dismissed as negligible once the ‘people’ observe
your benign and smiling presence in their midst – quietly circulating and
expressing ‘welcome’ in your Your Lordship’s inimitable and heartwarming

Fulsome praise, indeed - caught meself grinning like a Cheshire.

“But who’s going to do the selling of our stuff if I’m wandering about being

“It was never my intention for Your Lordship to become involved in the
commercial side of this operation. I also shall distance myself from the fray
– observing from afar and controlling matters on Your Lordship’s behalf. I
believe we can leave the selling in the capable hands of Master Julian here. He
speaks a similar language to those to whom he will be ‘floggin’ stuff’, and has
a natural instinct for the ‘moods’ of people and for the depth of an individual

“Yea, dead right – know a con when I see one, an’all.”

“As an additional safeguard, Milord, I will instruct Blarney Grail to be in
attendance as back-up in the young man’s camp – resourcefui and loyal, our

“And the most notorious poacher on the estate, old thing – I like old Grail, but
he’s a crook.”

“Precisely, Milord, but one who has managed to retain a grand reputation
in our community as a result of his ability to supply game to the general
populace at ‘knock-down’ prices – at Your Lordship’s expense, no doubt - but
never forgetting also to keep us sweet, at the Castle, by his unwavering supply
to our game larder of the very best of his ill-gotten gains - a complex and
unorthodox character, our Blarney, but with a heart of pure gold, Milord. His
introduction into our game-plan will enable us to employ the ancient wisdom
of ‘setting a thief to catch a thief’. I will also enlist the support of Police
Constable Southgate with whom I have a congenial relationship – one shared
also, perhaps surprisingly, Milord, with Grail.”

I have learned to be guided by Parsons in matters strategic. To be quite
honest, I had no great desire to be seen to be active in matters commercial.
Things seemed well in-hand, so I gave the old ‘green-light’ to the Juliano/
Parsonian plan.

“Good-oh!” I said happily enough. “Who’s going to supervise the folding

“I will request the attendance of Mr Peak from the bank, Milord. I feel sure that
he will be happy to take responsibility for the cash - and any card or cheque
transactions, as they emerge.”

Damned nuisance, banks, but Peak is the exception which proves whatever it
is that exceptions are renowned for proving. Never forget the time when things
were hyper-stretched at Amblewick and he saved the day. ‘The bank has a
great deal of money, Lord Amblewick, and I see no reason why you should not
have access to some of it…..”

“May I suggest the weekend after this as a provisional date for the first ‘sale-
day’, Milord?”

“Talley-ho, what? Let hounds move orf, so to speak?

Little did I anticipate the nightmare which was going to transpire before that
date was upon us……..

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