Uncle Eric and the dart team (or Uncle Eric and the long arm of the law part 2)

In rural England a village has two centers of social activity, the church, and the pub, (known as the church with the prayer books that have handles). West Hagbourne was no different, the local folk would seek spiritual guidance at both locations (pun intended). Most of  the folks worked on the local farms, did not drive a car, and so traveled  very little. The zenith of social life was the dart team of the local pub.  Schedules vary, but the basic scheme is the dart team plays another pubs team each week. One week at home, the next away. For the away game those that have cars basically ferry those who do not, to  the venue, the posher establishments even rent a bus! Uncle Eric’s was not a posh establishment. Having set the scene, on with the story.

One Thursday at 7:30 PM the dart team, the hangers on, the dart groupies, and of course Uncle Eric (Honory non playing captain), are assembled in the public bar of the “Horse and Harrow”.  They are enjoying some last minute ‘at home fortifications’, and discussing the up coming match against “the Red Lion”. Uncle Eric selects four of his cronies to travel with him in the Cortina estate wagon, and off they go.

The actual dart match went off without incident, Uncle Eric having consumed his recreational 10 pints of Morlands and the even more recreational half bottle of scotch, in other words a normal Thursday evening dart match. At 10:30 the evening is coming to a close, Uncle Eric gets the same four cronies and piles them into the Cortina. About a mile from the Horse and Harrow the Cortina careens off the road and impacts with a telephone pole, knocking it over. Luckily the only serious injury is the Cortina which now has a hood that is about 18 inches long, and the telephone pole that is now horizontal.

Uncle Eric does some quick thinking, 10 pints plus half a bottle of scotch, plus broken motor car, plus policeman plod, equals, go to jail.  This is not a good situation, in fact this is a bad, very bad situation. Uncle Eric selects the stupidest of the four cronies, a dumb witted yokel, who can not read or write, has never driven a car before in his life, and persuades him to claim to have been the driver. The payoff for this service will be free beer for a week. The yokel goes for it, the police arrive and some how  Uncle Eric gets away with it. The police do not for minute believe the story, but do not have any evidence to prove that Uncle Eric is telling them porky pies (cockney rhyming slang for lies).

A couple of weeks go by, then a letter arrives at the Harrow, addressed to Uncle Eric from the local council. It is to inform him that he is about to receive a bill for replacing the telephone pole that was destroyed by ‘HIS’ motor car. The bill will be $500 for the pole and $50 to have it installed. Now if there was one way to get Uncle Erics undivided attention, it was to hit him where it hurt most, in his wallet. News of the infamous letter spread fast, and I must admit, I for one felt that the establishment had him cold this time. I could see no angle, and boy for a couple of days he was in a filthy mood. He even started picking on the locals, normally (see previous posts) his victims were poor innocent travelers.

Uncle Eric always had a unique ability for acquiring stuff. One Sunday lunchtime my father asked me to go over to the Harrow and see if Uncle Eric had a 4 foot florescent tube, because one in our bar had blown. I get over there and Uncle Eric’s, wringing his hands in best Fagin tradition takes me to one of the out houses and shows me a collection of about 500 florescent tubes of various size, This in itself did not surprise me, but the fact that they came complete with the entire fitting now that did catch my imagination. “So Uncle Eric, where did we acquire these from?” I ask trying to keep a straight face, “Oh a guy came in the bar, said that they were remodeling some offices and he was on his way to the dump with all there perfectly good lights, well I bought the lot for a fiver….”. I have got to give Uncle Eric his due, he was never short of a glib story. I mean it sounded plausible, but I for one did not believe a word of it, I had spotted the one hole in the alibi. The stinking things were still in the original wrapping. Hmm, must have been some really meticulous re-modelers.

The next thing that happens in this story is that mysteriously a whole truck load of telephone poles appear  out back of ‘The Harrow’, I guess the telephone company was re-decorating and Uncle Eric just happened to bump into the guy who was taking them to the dump! Actually it was a truck load minus one, he had one delivered to the council together with a cheque for $50 and a short note explaining that this should fix his liability in the whole matter.

Uncle Eric 1, the establishment 0. You just can not keep a good crook down.

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