Week 60: Damm. I Now Need An Alibi…Again

Friday, 22 February 2019

Reading time 03 minutes 34 seconds 

No innocent person ever has an Alibi – Agatha Christie.

Those that know me think I’m relaxed, laid back, almost cool. The people that really know me are aware that I’m driven by fear and worry and will not be surprised to hear of the day I decided that I would not go down for murder. I couldn’t. I’d been to prison once during a game of Monopoly and didn’t enjoy it. I never understood why you didn’t get the £200 even though you passed Go! This time the jail would be real though and I would do anything to avoid it.

The timing was tight but by using all my cunning and guile I could just about pull this off and stay out of the scrubs. Being locked up would not work for me although I did desire a London address. For a start they have too many carbs for breakfast and I’ve been told by more than three people that I have a really cute bum.

The dead person was the youth I’d been asked to train that day. We’d met that morning and back then, they were very much alive. I liked it that way, it suited them.

Kitchen duties were not difficult to teach, myself and my student clicked immediately. They were kind and selfless, that’s why they volunteered, and as I later learnt, it looks great on a university application. Not that this person would need that anymore.

I should have noticed how well my day was going and gone home and climbed back into bed. Leaving that place is always my first mistake yet I repeat it on a daily basis.

As our shift finished I enquired as to where they were off to and then made my second mistake by offering them a lift, this was just as dumb as my initial error but without a 5 tog duvet to convince me otherwise.

Why did they say yes? Damm young people and their “Positive Say Yes To Life” attitude. We drove off and laughed for what would be the last time.

As I pulled up to their destination I noticed how scary and dubious it seemed. It was an industrial estate, the sort of place where very large, very dodgy drug deals are busted by a 16 month joint task force operation. Why were they meeting their mum here? My trainees, not the drug dealers. 

I enquired as to their safety in this nefarious place. They laughed again and insisted I leave. The sun was shining. What could possibly go wrong?

So I left. That’s the last time I saw them alive. The smiles from their face would be forever etched in my mind. 

10 minutes later the radio interrupted my car pool karaoke session with a news story about a missing person. I normally don’t listen to the news but this caught my attention. My brain then put 2 & 2 together and got two little ducks. Quack Quack!

I’m prone to flights of fantasy, some dark, some light but mostly they were very boring flights. EasyJet Southend to Liverpool on a Wednesday afternoon for instance. This time though the flight was scary, like Southend to Liverpool on a Friday afternoon. What if my colleague from earlier went missing? I’d be the last person to have seen them alive excluding the bad person who executed the terrible deed and my trainee. 
I’d become what I clearly am not, a person of interest. No one knew of the bad person so I was looking at a life sentence for murder. My imagination was in overdrive.

I’d departed the obvious to me crime scene 10 minutes ago. They’d already be in the back of a van so the best I could do would be to selfishly save myself. It was fight or flight time.

I’d require a cast iron alibi. Why they are made of Iron I don’t know. My football team has that moniker and we’re rubbish. 

Fear was doing it’s normal job on me and endless possibilities which all ended up with me in peril went through my mind. I drove passed a petrol station and an obvious solution presented itself. 
I put some diesel in the tank and my face on the CCTV. Inside the store I caused a minor scene by purposefully knocking some goods from the shelf. A member of staff came over and I insisted I helped them put stuff back. I paid using my credit card after cleverly adding a Cadburys cream egg to my basket. I didn’t want the Egg, even though they were on a special deal. It wasn’t even Easter, the best of all the religious holidays. My brain protecting me. Who would commit a heinous crime then eat a Cadbury’s cream egg? No one. Voila. A Graphene Alibi sorted!

I forced the egg down in front of the forecourt camera and went about my day.

I didn’t sleep well that night. My paranoid dreams made me Andy “Shawshank” Dufresne. 

The next morning still racked with worry I phoned work. My trainee answered immediately. They hadn’t been killed! 

I inhaled purposefully for the first time in a day, tasting the sweet smell of freedom. 

That was a close one. OK , no more Mr. nice guy, no more lifts, no more training. I never saw them again as they left shortly after for University and I never did find out why their mum picked them up in an industrial estate. Some people are just weird I guess.

Picture: Me in my pirate attire at yesterday’s sold out family show which was great fun. 

Week 59: My First Audition

Friday 15 February 2019

Reading time 03 minutes 56 seconds

“Disappointment haunted all my dreams” – (“I’m a Believer” The Monkees)

At the age of 10 I was destined for a part in the musical Bugsy Malone.

The version of the musical I was interested in was being staged by Mickey Dolenz, everyone’s third favourite Monkee, and I was going to attend the audition, get the part, leave school and be an actor. I had decided that once I was an actor in London’s West End it was only a matter of time before TV came knocking. First of all, Play For Today then I would be cast in some blockbuster movies with some time off to do a bit of Shakespeare at the National (depending on my endorsement schedule). 

Back to the audition.

It was on a Sunday, which was perfect, and it was as if Mickey knew that it was my Dads one and only day off. I woke Dad around 7am although he didn’t seem as excited as me because the car had snow on it which meant both my Dad and his motor needed defrosting. Once on the road I sat in the back with my hand-held video game but the moment it went ‘beep’ Dad shouted at me and told me to turn it off. He was right of course as I would have a proper job by the end of the day. No more video games, I was 10 and it was time to grow up.

My Dad never swore unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then the worst thing he ever said was “Pox”, but as we approached he saw a very long queue and I learnt a couple of new words in that moment. We joined the back of the queue. Dad went off on an expedition and walked round the entire building to discover the entrance was a short way behind us, but we were at the very back. He estimated it would take about 6 hours to reach the front. Dad didn’t look pleased. He explained to everyone how long it was going to take and a few of them left. He’d have to convince thousands if he wanted to get to the front any quicker but he had little else to do so started on that task. 

After about 4 hours and a queue movement of about 50 foot (thanks to Dad) he snapped. “POX. I’m going for a walk!”

He came back 10 minutes later and marched me not that far behind us to the front of the queue. My bottom lip was quivering, and I was on the verge of tears, but he strode purposefully up to security flashed a bit of paper and we were in. We’d just pushed in front of thousands. He explained that entry tickets were being handed out at the front and while he was walking past it got a little chaotic and Dad “managed” to get one. Wow. This guy was amazing.

I was called along with 50 others. What?! I thought they wanted to audition me?

We were put in a room and each asked to sing. I’d a gorgeous voice according to my Mum but only for the song Doctor Foster. Sadly, they didn’t know that one and we had to sing a ‘G’. I had no idea what that was, and they asked us to sing scales. Everyone bar me seemed to know the words and at the end a lady put an orange coloured sticker on me. All Orange stickers were to go next door. So long suckers.

Then came the dancing test. People had leg warmers and plimsoles, but I had a pair of trusty Clarks commandos. These idiots in their silly footwear, didn’t they realise the long-lasting damage they were doing to their feet with no arch support? 
We shuffled, stepped, twirled, jumped and curtseyed. Everyone did this although I was the only one in time and earned another orange sticker. All Orange stickers were asked to go next door. So long suckers! 

I wondered when we would get to meet Mickey?

A woman then spoke up and crushed me and the other Oranges so much that we could have been juice. She told us that sadly we hadn’t been selected and it was time to go home. She encouraged us to keep working hard and maybe next time we would be more successful.

I found my Dad. “That was quick” he remarked, “you’ve only been gone ten minutes!” He asked a woman he’d been chatting with what two Orange stickers meant. She whispered that I couldn’t sing or dance but I’m not sure why she tried to hide it as I’d just had this pointed out to me in a room full of other non-talented people. The rejection was crushing, and we travelled home in silence.

Hollywood would have to wait as I was going to school on Monday. It was a good job I’d only told everyone I knew. The 30 people in my classroom, the 200 in the rest of the school, and the teachers, and my nan. If this had happened right now I would have told my friends on Facebook and imagine how embarrassing that would be….

Picture: I ended up being a bell boy rather than an actor this is the only surviving picture

Week 58: I’m A Good Burglar, Which Is Tough To Brag About

Friday, 8 February 2019

Reading time 03 minutes 57 seconds 

I’m not bad I’m just drawn that way – Jessica Rabbit.

I’m in! Yes! I’ll reposition the items I knocked over and no one will know I’ve been here. Breaking into the house was exhilarating. Don’t get angry, it was my best mates house and I didn’t steal anything. We were there for Cartoons and Sandwiches.

We decided to bunk off from school. What were we learning anyway? Some nonsense about triangles that I’ve never used to this day? It’s one of the shapes I’ve never had much use for unless playing trivial pursuit or eating cheap cheese. Life skills would have been a better lesson. Being a 47 year old man surrounded by friends and loved ones who are going through the menopause and understanding how tough it is and all you can do is act with love and compassion would have come in useful, but no, the three side shape was the preferred subject matter.

The owner of the house was called mum by my pal. I don’t believe that was her real name. She only tolerated my existence and didn’t like me, probably because I was always in trouble with her son. I don’t want to sound childish but he started it. 

His dad was the opposite and showed me love, compassion and encouraged me to pursue a career in being funny. I should have listened to him rather than break into his house to eat Breville toasted baked bean sandwiches.

My first breaking and entering “job” was my own home conveniently located on the street I lived on. I was 6 years old when given my first key of the door. Historically it was when you turned 18 but I couldn’t be standing around waiting for my independence for 12 years, I wasn’t a country in the commonwealth, I had things to do dammit. The punishment for a lost door key was two weeks pocket money withheld plus I had to stand outside until dad got home. No mobile phones back then so no parent to wine too about what an idiot you were and how it was all their fault.

A few weeks after being given my independence I lost the key. I could and would not miss my cartoons. That day I learnt the meaning of the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention”.

It was a standard two storey house. I’m sure it had more tales to tell but who would listen.

My dad had left the top front bedroom window opened a smidge. That was my entry point. Sure it was perilous but I was six and had no comprehension of that. I’d like to say Danger was my middle name but it was David, which was part of the way there. 

I started the climb then slipped and fell from 5 foot up which is not high unless your only 2.5 foot tall. That scared me a bit so I mopped about for a bit and revaluated the situation. 

I believe that this is where my problem solving skills started to develop. I‘d have a career in IT later in life that relied on these and it was all thanks to Tom & Jerry cartoons.

How to get in? Then I spied what had always been there. It was as if I seeing it for the first time. The chute! It was an old house and this was where coal was delivered too back in the day and it lead into our cellar.

I was tiny compared to everyone I knew, I still am. Could I fit down that tunnel?

I lifted the lid and jumped back. Cobwebs. Millions of them. Spiders, why did it have to be spiders? It looked dark, very dark. I’d have to go through an arachnid city by the looks of it. How bad did I want to watch cartoons? 

Into the belly of the beast I went.

I shimmied down the filthy slope. I moved slowly along bumping into things, bruising ankles, I was petrified.

My only experience of the cellar was putting 10 pence into the electric metre which my Dad had rigged up so it fell back out again for free electricity. I wasn’t until I was much older that I learnt that my dad was as dodgy as Roger the dodger from the Beano.

I made it to the bottom, hold your nerve and walk Matty. Yes I made it to the cellar stairs! I climbed them very slowly then pushed open the door to bright light. I was inside and home.

Back outside I went to cover my tracks and make it look like I hadn’t broken in and voila, the perfect crime. I was becoming as dodgy as a the old man. The apple had not fallen from the tree but what fruit ever does?

So back to my mates house . No coal chute this time and the years had added an extra foot to my height so I scaled the front of his house and luckily didn’t fall. Neighbourhood watch hadn’t been invented yet so that was handy.

I went up like Spiderman and through the window. I replaced the items on the dresser, ran down stairs to let my mate in. We hung out ate Breville Baked Bean sandwiches, then sneaked out, the perfect crime and a full belly. Result.

In a scene similar to the one in the film Misery he was questioned that evening by his Mum [not her real name]. An ornament or two on her dresser were facing the wrong way and one was on the floor. My mate was as bold as brass and denied everything. His innocent face was believed so Mum [not her real name] phoned the police. 

They had been burgled she proclaimed. Finger prints were taken. I was a criminal. Damm. If my dabs were ever taken and matched to this caper I’d go down for sure. Mum [not her real name] had a mothers intuition that I was somehow involved but she never said anything. 

Me and this friend are still close, we reminisce a lot about what idiots we were and still are. I don’t believe he’s ever fessed up to this.

My prints are probably still on a police database and I cite that as one of the reasons I’ve kept out of trouble with the law.

The 15 second video is me performing a joke that the funny and talented one in the family my sister said whilst we watched football together on Monday night.


Week 57: Drunk Interview

Friday, 1 February 2019

Reading time 3 minutes 03 seconds 

Remember that time I drunk two bottles of wine and forgot how to drive? – Homer Simpson.

A long time ago I used to be a bell boy (I said BOY) at the London Marriott hotel in Grosvenor Square. I was 16, enthusiastic and willing to learn…..how to prise Americans from their dollars. I loved that job as I could work two days on two days off and even to this day I get a little antsy if I work for three days straight.

The hotel had 5 stars and I thought one of them was me.

I met film and TV celebs, Hollywood big wigs and arms dealers (who, incidentally, are great fun to drink with). I once met a chap in a lift who mentioned he was tired after working hard the previous night. I asked him what he did, and he smiled and explained he was a footballer. It transpired he was Gary Lineker, you know the crisp and Twitter guy.

Recalling those days it seems strange to me now that I went to interview at a rival hotel because I loved being in the Marriott, but like an old Church roof I’m easily led. The interview was at Claridge’s which was, and still is, the epitome of posh and was, and still is, the antithesis of me.

My fellow bell boy (I said BOY) had the day off and decided to accompany me. We got there at 11am, my interview was at 1pm, and my friend suggested we had a beer. We ordered a bottle of beer and sat there. 90 minutes later I went to the interview.

Claridge’s is intimidating but I had experience of these places and I was as close to cocky as you could get. I had swagger. However as I sat there waiting to meet the head concierge I realised I was very, very drunk. Breakfast had been a bowl of Frosties and it turns out they were not so hot at soaking up the one beer that had turned into six.

It would be ok though as I’d just be polite and front it out.

The head concierge was adorable, and we clicked immediately. I liked this guy and I knew he liked me. We laughed and connected on a level that was almost molecular and I bowled out of there and felt 5 foot tall. My mate had waited for me in the pub so we had a celebratory cheeky one. What happened next remains a mystery but all I knew was my alarm clock was going off and I had to get to work.

I felt rough and whilst it was a tough shift I was getting through it. Then my boss arrived and asked to have a word.

He didn’t start with pleasantries and he wasn’t very pleasant to me.

The head concierge at Claridge’s had not liked me as much as I thought, and he had phoned my boss to complain to him that I was drunk at an interview and how disgusted he was at my behaviour. My boss proceeded to tell me how I’d bought shame on him and our team. These days he’d be breaking a ton of employment rules, but back then it was the wild west and there were no HR laws and no internet to see how in the wrong he was or what my out of court settlement would have been. 

I took my scolding the only way a teenager can. I moped about for a bit and thought the world was a very unfair place. My boss was lovely and, a bit like Alex Ferguson, once the hairdryer had overheated he calmed down and he was laughing about it and calling me a wally. Willsy the Wally was my name for a while, 2 years to be exact.

Willsy The Wally

Picture: Me, my double chin, round belly and favourite writing tutor