Since I have been asked to recount my life of crime and subsequent retribution whilst living for the first few weeks in merry ole dirty as scum on a floor mop England,(lord but I hated that place) here goes as they say Nothin.
As mentioned, I worked for a short time for my brother in law who was for lack of a better word best described as a Villain, Thug, Scoundrel, Thief, Rogue, Rascal, Brigand, Pickpocket, Swindler, Absconder of things not his and generally of the light fingered Gentry. Having said that I feel that I must also add that he was one of the nicest human beings that I have ever known, and certainly one of the most generous and popular. It seemed to me at the time that there was not one, not one bar of the 27,000 bars in London at that time where he was not known intimately by both staff and custom. In many ways I do miss the fool.
Now to partially vindicate that which He, we,(he will henceforth referred to as Len, simply because that was his name) did, I feel that it is necessary to give some back ground on the real-estate and squatter situation and laws that were in effect in England at that time. Wrapped up simply the squatter laws could best summed up as stupid, absurd and just plain nutz. For instance the laws stated quite clearly, that if one left their place of residence unlocked for ANY length of time as in just going down to the local store for a loaf of bread and left the door unlocked and there was no one else home, that dwelling could then be declared abandoned. Now lets say that I happened to see you leave and not lock the door, I could then move into YOUR house and declare squatter’s rights as the tenement had indeed been left vacant. Now here’s the really weird part, and I shit you not, by using Legal means it would take you six months to have me evicted from YOUR HOUSE because I declared squatters’ rights. Again I say ” I shit you not”.
I imagine that these laws were incased at a time somewhere in the distant past when British laws made some small modicum of sense, (somewhere around the year -02, or thereabouts ) anyhoos they were and perhaps still are on the books.
Now as stated my brother in law worked for a land developer in London who had by virtue of these laws a Huge problem with squatters and the eviction of same. Now I must add that the vast majority of these fine people were not indigent or generally homeless folk, but in more cases than not were travelers. Just young tourists gone walkabout in Europe an needed a place to crash and would pass the reins on to the next bunch that were passing through when it came time for them to move on and find digs elsewhere. I might also add that more than a goodly number of these fine folk hailed from Oz or new Zealand. Just saying.
One day Len called on me and told me that we were to persuade a group of art students at an art school to vacate as rent had not been paid for in excess of one year and the building was scheduled for renovation by the owner. The problem was that the staff of said art school perhaps had seen the writing on the wall and had absconded previously, leaving the students to fend for themselves. Now we all know how art students fair, not worth a shit, like not two nickels to rub together at the very best of times. But no matter the deal was pay up or get out. They of course couldn’t pay up, what with Christi’s and Sotheby’s being such assholes about selling their objects d’e art an all.
Now as it turned out this house had belonged to the British artist John Singer Sargent and was sort of a holy grail to these artists and as such the school had kept a very low profile fearing that the city of London would turn it into a heritage site or somesuch. One day one of the students let slip to my brother in law that the house had indeed belonged to Sargent, myself knowing Sargent like a fish knows from a bicycle paid no attention. Len however had heard of this wannabe artist called Sargent and said to me “we’re coming back here tonight.”
Later after he had picked me up and we had arrived back at said now deserted art school, I asked wtf are we doing here and wtf do we want?
Pointing up at the ceiling in the main room he whispers in my ear” oi I bet we get a few bob fer that”.
I looked up and on the ceiling was a huge painting set in a plaster bond, Yuh know one of those fancy plaster framey thingys. Don’t ask what the painting was about cause I don’t remember ok, just suffice it to say that it was BIG. I said wtf are we going to do with it? He said get it down. I said How? He said don’t be a git, we got ladders here and plenty of tools in the car. I said OK.
I said to Len OK it’s down and it all went quite well I think, now what?
He says lets roll it up. I say OK
We roll this Huge great carpet sort of thing up. I say “now what” Len says “lets put it in this back room”
We drag push and pull this leviathan into the back room and Len locks the door.
I say “now what” Len says “we go have a few pints” I say “OK works fer me”.
Now unbeknownst to me after Len dropped me off at home he called his boss and tells him that if the cleanup crews get there early to make sure to tell them not to remove the painting in the back room as he , that would be Len has laid claim to it. Yeah right.
In the morning we get back to claim our booty, me of course not knowing what said booty really was, after all but Len had said it might be worth a few bob, whatever the fuck that was.
Anyways we get to said art school and there is a large van from some art restoration or other parked outside with security no less, and there are five men wearing white gloves carrying out this rolled up thing like it was King Tuts Mummy or something. Lens boss was there as well, Len said WTF’s going on, Len’s boss just said Thankyou very much and I’ll see that you get a bonus for this one. I still didn’t get it. It wasn’t till sometime later that I got it. What we had done and what we had lost, I’m still drinking to try and forget that part of my past. I’ve pleaded and pleaded but NOBODY will forgive me I hope. Wink
There was more but my tears shorted out the keyboard.