In the late 60’s I used to go out with a few male friends to a nightclub owned by a man who was just a year older than me. He was called Don, he had five nightclubs at this time and I must give credit where it was due. This Guy Don was a force to be reckoned with, I had nothing but admiration for him, the bastard. (GRIN) I must say, in all the years that I knew him, that would be about 40 years, he went from strength to strength and I never witnessed any trouble at any of his clubs. The layout, the décor, the entertainment value were quite astounding. My wife, my friends and I had many wonderful times at Don’s establishments. The cabaret floorshows were terrific. You could order a table enjoy a meal, relax and watch the show. He had loads of celebrities of the day, Lulu, Jack Jones, Frankie Vaughn, and Dusty Springfield etc etc.
It was sad when Don died at the age of sixty-six, what a loss to the world of entertainment. I first met Don at one of his nightclubs in Manchester. I’d just bought an imported American car; it was a Chevrolet Impala Convertible. It was a right hand drive 18 feet long and 7 foot wide a most spectacular motor and stood out like a sore thumb. It was racing green and looked so sleek and impressive. When one blasted the horn it played the song La Cooker Racher and everybody would turn around to have a look. God knows what they thought, I suppose the more mature people would be appalled by such flamboyance the not so old would find it quite amusing and the with-it type would be saying “Look at that big-headed bastard, I wish I had that car. Ha Ha! I was a big show off in my younger years, I loved to impress people but why not. I used to think, if you have a trumpet, blow it. I went to one of his clubs one night and parked the car outside on the road. I was stood at the bar with the lads I had arranged to meet there. We were drinking beer and weighing up the talent when a message came over the tannoy. “Would the owner of the car registration so and so please come to the reception” That was me, I’m wondering if there has been an accident as I made my way to reception. I saw the doormen who I had got to know during previous visits. They were talking to a man I later discovered was Don, the owner. I had had a tow bar fitted to the car to pull a trailer and Don wanted to know where I got it fitted. I thought that was a load of bullshit. I figured he wanted to know who the owner was of that big flashy American car. He was a good-looking man with a very strong face and his reputation was somewhat renowned for want of a better word. I later learned that he had served time in Borstal and he was not the type of man to cross. He was said to be ruthless and would squash you in the mud and walk over you to get on. He was a lovely guy by all means.
As the years rolled by I discovered that he was all right in small doses. I struck up a friendship with Don from the word go, he seemed to like me judging by the fact that he always singled me out whenever I visited his club. He’d ask me over to the bar, buy me a drink and would carry on a conversation with me. I never felt completely comfortable with him, I thought he was a bit off a skitsomaniac; he had to be in charge. I used to think to myself, he might be in charge of his staff but he sure isn’t in charge of me. His staff were all very wary of him they all toed the line and tret him with great respect. On a number of occasions I’d hear him bollocking them and never an argument ensued, yes sir, no sir was the order of the day, that’s what Don expected and that’s what Don got. You could sense his ruthlessness and it gave me the creeps. I was a tough cookie myself in those days and could give Don a good run for his money, but with all those burly bouncers he had at his command, I reckoned I’d be treading on very unsafe ground. I’d also heard that if he got into a fight with anybody, he wouldn’t stop battering them when he got the upper hand, oh no. He would just keep on kicking them till he broke a few bones. Yes, he was a lovely chappy to have as a friend. As I said, in small doses only. I think Don warmed up to me because he could see I was a man of equal determination to get on in life and he had found out that my childhood was splattered with skirmishes with the law. It was a case of, “It takes one to know one”. I remember one Saturday evening Hilda (my wife) and me went to a club that Don had recently opened. It was our favourite club at that time, late 60s. Bob Monkhouse was the entertainer that night. I was never keen on him and had only seen him on television. I wasn’t enthused by his presence but I must say, my mind was changed after seeing him live. What a talented man, I appreciated everything I saw him in after that night. Great show. Anyway, Don sidled up to me towards the end of the evening and invited us to join him and friends to have supper with him and his wife Jenny after the club closed. I was quite flattered but wondered what the hell he was after. He knew I was a builder. As the club cleared I was stood talking to Don’s male pals who grew up with him. Exchanging platitudes when Don approached me and asked me to go and tell Hilda to go and talk with the woman, as she was talking to the men as well as me. He was obviously in his I’m in charge mode. I looked at him and said “Fuck off Don, you go and tell her” I wasn’t bothered about his clubs as far as I was concerned he could stick them up his arse. He walked away then we had the supper thanked him and went home. This is where the skitso bit came in. After that incident, he banned Hilda from all his clubs! He didn’t ban me from the men’s night out club on Friday nights. This was another club he owned but he didn’t encourage me to join him at the bar for a while after. He wouldn’t even let his wife communicate with us when we bumped into her at a holiday resort we both belonged to in Wales. I used to tell Hilda not to bother with him; I told her it was a waste of time wrestling with a porcupine. I knew he would come around eventually. This he did about a year later.
We used to go to Wales very often in the summer months, we and two other married couples and all our children used to congregate on the beach and enjoy endless fun water skiing, fishing, sunbathing and picnicking. We all had motorboats which afforded us untold pleasure. We had three beautiful daughters our friends Jim & Audrey had two girls and Alan & Mavis were blessed with a boy and a girl. They were all around the same age and the joy of our get togethers was immeasurable. How I wish those magic years were still to come. It was at the end of one of those fun-packed days was coming to an end and we were all leaving the beach. Hilda and I saw the skitso walking towards us; he was wearing a bathing suit and cut quite a dashing figure. He had this grin on his face and I said to Hilda “Uhoo here comes the queer fellow. I had my water skies over my shoulder and was sporting a good tan and felt a good match for Don, minus his bouncers. He greeted us as if nothing had ever happened and I knew Hilda was pleased because I’m sure she had a secret desire for him. We exchanged pleasantries and he invited us to have refreshments in his chalet which commanding a beautiful view of the sea. It was a prestigious site and one that could only be acquired by dropping the site-manager a real good back-hander. My wife Hilda was a great personality and had a lovely soprano voice and I knew Don liked her and regretted barring her from his clubs. That was Don, a genius in many ways but an idiot in other ways. In the later years when he knew that Hilda could sing he would encourage her to get up and give a song at the many parties he threw and that we were invited to. You could see that Jenny (Don’s wife) was dead pleased to see us and that the tomfoolery had reached its finality. We enjoyed Jennie’s hospitality and during the course of the afternoon Don disappeared into another room and remerged with a load of drawings in his hands. He invited me to look at them, as they were the plans of another nightclub he had acquired. The club was in a little town in Lancashire, it was originally a church that had been turned into a nightclub. The club had run its course and had been closed for some time. It was all boarded up and looked a total eyesore. Down we sat stretched the rolled up plans across the table and began inspecting them. Don was asking me various questions of my thoughts of the layout. It was a big undertaking with there being loads of extensions to the existing layout. It was a big club as it was; Don’s plans were to almost double its capacity. There was a seventy-foot long wall, which supported the main church roof to be under-pinned and removed. The roof then had to be supported by a massive fabricated steel girder, which was subsequently lifted into place by two cranes. I began to wonder if Don was going to ask me to give him a quotation to do the work. As I was only a small builder, specialising in home extensions, i.e. kitchen, garage and bedroom extensions, this job was a bit outside my capabilities. I knew I would have to employ more tradesmen as I only worked with a small team. I did most of the work myself and I could whip in and out of a job like a blue-arsed fly. I got a joy from the compliments my customers made at the end of each job I performed. Their appreciation at the fact that their inconvenience was short-lived, as I worked late never came late and left the site clean and tidy. I could build a kitchen extension in a week, completed electrics, plumbing done, plastered, concrete paths around site cleaned and Bob’s your uncle give me the money Barney.
My worst fears were realised when Don asked me if I could do this work and would I care to give him a quote. My dear wife was astounded every time she came to visit my sites. She would call on me if I was working locally after taking the kids to school in the morning and would call again after she had picked them up at the end of the day. She would blast the horn and beckon me to come to the car shaking her hand in an agitated fashion. I’d curse, as I had to put my trowel down and stop working. Wasting time, damn! But it was always joyful to see my three sweet angels looking at me with big smiles on their faces waving and saying hi-ya dad. Hilda would comment on the amount of work I had done since she came in the morning, which made me feel good. She’d ask me what time I was coming home knowing that it would be eight o’clock or so. She also liked to see the customers I was working for, particularly the woman. If they were young and pretty she would accuse me of having an affair with them. Tut Tut! I had no time for distractions there was money involved. Maybe a quick bed-ender at the completion of the job, when the odd customer’s husband wasn’t satisfying his wife. I would, out of the kindness of my heart, step in and try to help out. Looking back now though. I can’t help getting pangs of remorse for being such a shit at deceiving my dear wife and three daughters. In my defense I would stress that it’s not so simple to resist a young housewife throwing themselves at you during the course of your propinquity. If there is a god to answer to when we pass over I will be happy to take my punishment for my infidelities. Back to Don’s question, could I do the job? Hilda answered the question before I had chance to open my mouth, “Of course he can!” she interjected. “You ought to see the speed he works!” Gee whiz, I was going to say no. I reluctantly agreed not wanting Don to think I was a small-time punk. I wasn’t big time that’s for sure. I liked tidy work not a big crew of men to deal with. Not having to stand in judgment of men, not having to deal with prima donna tradesmen who got shirty whenever you told them what to do. Having to sack people who didn’t come up to standard. That was not my cup of tea. I had had some of that when I first started my building firm. I wanted the simple life, knowing that I could give my customers what I promised and not relying on other tradesmen to deliver my promises. Having to put bad workmanship right, which I often had to when I surrounded myself with more men than I needed. No, I’d got it off to a fine art; I could sleep at night knowing everything was going hunky dory. Unfortunately I wasn’t a good delegator. Whenever I met an arsehole who wanted to bullshit me over a bad job, I would find it hard to reason with him. I would want to belt him right on the nose and tell him to fuck off. The smart delegator would reason with the employee and know how to get the best out. Sending him out of the office with a bee in his bonnet but determined to correct his failings.
So here I was leaving Don’s chalet with a load of drawings under my arm laughing and saying goodbye with a heavy heart. I bundled the plans into the back of the car and with a final wave to our hosts off we went back to our house. I turned to Hilda with a strangled voice I asked why the hell had she dropped me in the shit. “You can do it, you can do it!” she admonished. Bloody hell, I told her. The job is twenty miles from my builder’s yard it will take me an hour to get there before I start the work. She told me to tell him that I don’t want to do the job. Obviously that was the easy answer, but I am one of these men that hates to go back on his word. I can’t say no. God help me if I’d been born a woman, every smooth-talking bastard would have been shagging me. So there I was, well and truly incarcerated after a week or two agonising over the contract and trying to figure out how long it would take, followed by phone calls from Don. I finally came up with a price that I hoped Don would reject. Much to my dismay he didn’t, all he wanted to know was how quickly I could start. I gave him a date, which he accepted and I dreaded.
The day came and me and my boys loaded up the wagon with all the necessary equipment and off we went, my van following with the rest of the crew. There were five of us at that time. I knew I would have to employ some local men when I got the job underway. Something I did not relish. We got to the site and began to unload the vehicles. I was despairing, what the hell have I got myself into? I thought. I felt suicidal as I scanned the site. The club was a shambles, having originally being a church it was surrounded by gravestones. Some of the headstones were remarkable it was quite obvious that some very wealthy people had been buried there. My head was swimming and someone inside my head was screaming “Don’t do it, get to hell out of here.” I looked at the lads and shouted, “Stop! Load up again put the gear back on the trucks”. They looked at me in amazement as I told them I wasn’t doing the job. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” I said and off we went. The architect that had done the drawings worked at a town hall, a slight detour would get me there. I sent my crew back to my yard and told them to do a bit of tidying up till I got back. I walked to the reception upon entering the town hall and asked the lady behind the desk to page the architect. I had met him before, he was a nice guy and easy to get along with. The poor bugger died just a few years later, I think he was only early fifties. It was the general belief that the club was haunted, it makes you wonder. Eeeeeeeeeeek! He turned up after a brief wait; he was smiling at me as he approached and asked me what he owed the honour of my visit to. I soon wiped the grin off his face when I offered him all the plans and told him I didn’t intend to do the job. His jaw hit the floor; he was speechless for a moment. “Jesus Derek” he said. “I’ve known builders being disappointed at having not gained a contract but I have never met a builder that has achieved a contract and reneged on it. Bloody hell this is a first”. I had definitely underpriced the job and this is what I told him. “Hang on” he said, “I will go and phone Don”. I paced around the corridor like a caged animal cursing myself for putting myself in such an embarrassing situation. The guy returned and told me that Don wanted me to call at his house, shit! More agro. Off I drove, although I had never been to his house I knew where it was. It was situated in fourteen acres of land and was visible from the road. It was a big manor house having its own stables and squash courts that Don had had built. Quite overwhelming for a guy like me who hadn’t attained these great heights. I reluctantly rang the bell on this great big oak door and waited with my heart thumping against my rib cage. The door opened and there stood Don with that inevitable grin on his face. “ Hi Don” I exhaled, trying to hide my embarrassment and unprofessionalism. “What’s the score?” he asked. “I’ve dropped a big clanger on the price” I told him I need at least another £6,000,00. That was the truth, I realised this when I stood on the car park at the club and realised the complexity of the job. I was amazed at Don’s calmness. I relaxed as he told me not to worry because he thought the price I gave was a bit low. He had obviously had other quotes much higher than mine therefore it was no surprise to him to see me on his doorstep with this problem. Don was a very crafty person as I learned as I got to deal with him more. You almost got the impression that he could read your mind. He obviously was reading my mind to realise I wasn’t bullshitting. He asked me to get back to the site and get the works underway and not to worry about the cost. So off I went as sick as a sea-going parrot still not wanting to tackle the job.
I phoned my yard from the town hall. (There was no mobile phones in those days) and told the boys to get back to the site. They must have been laughing their heads off on the way back. I didn’t know where to start first; my mind was in a spin. So I got the lads occupied and decided that I would give my attention to putting the big concrete blocks in the ground to support the seventy foot beam that was to support the church roof. I was on my own measuring things up at the back of the club. I was feeling desperate and wondering how I could get to hell off this nightmare of a job. I ended up laying a ladder on the ground laying down beside it and screaming for help. The boys came running round wondering what was happening and I gasped that I had just fell off the ladder and I thought I had broken my back. They called an ambulance from the police station and I was bundled in and transported to a hospital some ten miles away. I was immediately x-rayed and taken to a bed in the ward as I cracking on I was paralyzed. The nurse came to me and told me the x-rays had been scanned and that I hadn’t broke my back but needed to rest a few days before I could be released. I’m thinking to myself. If you only knew I was kidding you would be kicking me out of bed and running me through the hospital entrance post-haste. I got talking to the guys either side of me and they were sympathising with me over my bad luck. We ended up having a good laugh and finally as the night rolled on we went to sleep. The next morning I had my breakfast after which I decided I must get to hell out of there. I jumped out of bed with my bedmates telling me to be careful and asking me if I was alright. I assured them I was and started putting my clothes on. The staff nurse noticed me as she walked into the ward and ordered me back into bed. I apologised to her but told her I was discharging myself at which she looked alarmed. She warned me about the pitfalls of my decision at which I tried to assure her that I felt alright. Hurrying away she returned with a discharge document that I duly signed for her and after putting up with a bit more lecturing I departed. I heard that Don had visited me at the hospital an hour or two later only to be told that I had gone. Ha Ha! I bet he thought he was dealing with a maniac. I decided that there was no way out of this nightmare except to go back and get stuck in, which I did. I summoned the team and back we went to work. I told them all that a physiotherapist had manipulated my spine and that I was still in a bit of pain but the job must go on.
I turned my attention back to doing the groundwork for the seventy-foot beams. I had to knock a section of the walls down at each extremity of the beam in order to excavate the ground where the concrete blocks were being cast. Having done this I hired a big digger and started the dig. As the hole went deeper I was overlooking the progress and at about six feet deep what looked like a manhole cover appeared as the digger driver lifted his bucket up to dispose of the soil contained within. It was only partially lifted. I shouted to the driver to hold fire while I investigated. I scrambled down the hole lifted the lid and to my amazement discovered it to be a coffin. Inside was the skeleton of a child. As I was a hot-headed man in those days and realising that if I reported this to the police the job would be stopped whilst a bunch of ministers visit the site to say prayers and resite the grave. God knows how long that would have taken. I kept the little scull thinking I was being nice in doing so. The rest of the coffin and bones were dug up and ended up down the local tip. I mean, the coffin wasn’t marked above it; it was tight against the church wall, hardly a place you would expect to find a coffin. Of course all the lads on the site came running around to see it so it quickly got to the attention of the police. A couple of officers came around the following day to make enquiries of the find. I told them what had happened and acted daft saying that I didn’t think it was important and had disposed of it as I did. I didn’t tell them I still had the scull. That remained in my garage for a few years and eventually I gave it to a building inspector.
I carried on with the excavating and completed the concreting of pad stones. I had to be very accurate with their construction as it was critical that the spacing and levels were dead right to rest the steelwork on them. This was all completed the day after and the next task was to support the main roof so that when we took the wall out beneath it it wouldn’t collapse. I completed this by hiring special trusses and jacks and again was a very specialised undertaking. I was still a bit apprehensive when I completed the job. It was then time to demolish the wall below, we took enough down so that we could get the main beam in, and as soon as this was done the steel erectors arrived to handle the installation. They brought two cranes on site and the first job was to place the upright girders onto the concrete pad stones and bolt them down. Next was the massive seventy-foot beam to hold the roof. It was fixed to the cranes at either ends then the lift began. I was praying to God that I had the spacing right. Up it went with a steel erector at either end of a scaffold. They eased the ends onto the uprights then started bolting them in position. I was waiting for the cry of “They won’t fit!” Instead it was “Job done!” Was I bloody relieved. I got on nicely with the job after that, I had to go on anti-depressants to keep my head above water. Don visited the site regularly and on one visit he shouted me over to where I had built a wall containing about thirty thousand bricks. That’s a massive wall. He stood looking at the space we had created and decided that it wasn’t enough to accommodate the amount of people he envisaged standing there. It was the standing space around the bar area. He asked if it would be a good idea to pull it down and rebuild to a position he was indicating with his finger. I looked at him in dismay and reminded him that there were thousands of bricks in the wall and that he would have to get the plans amended and that he would obviously have to pay to have it pulled down and rebuilt. Thank the lord I was on the happy pill. He let that go thankfully but I knew he was working on other ideas.
I soon found out what his plans were on his next site visit. After discussions with the architect they had come up with a solution. He had decided to remove the front wall that supported the roof on the opposite side from the fourteen-ton girder we had painstakingly installed. This meant that the whole of the roof had to be demolished and disposed of. The wall below demolished and removed from site. Then he wanted another wall building to extend the club another twenty feet forward. Was I happy about that, I had to sort another price out for that? I brought a demolition firm in to do all the demolition after which I brought the digger in to dig the footings for the new wall. I poured twelve ton of concrete in the footings and the next day I was all set to whip the wall up. There were thirty thousand bricks to lay. I had all the bricks on the site and other materials. I’d organised the scaffolders to come as requested. The first day we build the first lift, which was five feet high using six thousand bricks. I had me and two other bricklayers and six labourers on the job. The scaffolders came that evening and whipped the scaffold up so that we were ready to start laying bricks the next morning. We did the same again the next day followed by the scaffolders. This went on for five days and the wall was completed to roof level. Don and the architect couldn’t believe we built it so fast. They were worrying that by imposing so much weight so quickly on the concrete foundations it was going to sink. Ha Ha! That was about forty years ago and it is still standing.
So the job continued we were well ahead, in time my confidence was returning and I was starting to feel good, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t think I would be paying another visit to the hospital, this time for genuine reasons. I had to open wide doorways in various existing walls. This meant under-pinning removing brickwork and installing steelwork supports. The whole doorway had to be cut out and a box section of steel had to be inserted. That meant a spreader beam had to go in position first and that went below finished floor level. This is a very heavy section and has to be manhandled into position. Once in position it has to be lifted with lifting tackle and lowered on the brickwork. When it was lowered and released I found it had landed on some obstacle and wouldn’t seat properly. I clambered down under the wooden floor to gain access to the bottom of the beam. Once there I asked the lads above to lift the beam I then placed a brick under each end so that I could clear the obstruction below without it falling on my hand. I swept my hand along the top of the brickwork making sure that all the loose debris was removed. Having satisfied myself of this I told the lads above to lift the beam so that I could remove the bricks. One brick was successfully removed leaving one end of the beam suspended three inches above the brickwork. I crawled to the other end, I had my thumb gripping onto the brickwork whilst I took the brick out with the other hand. This proved to be a bad idea. Much to my dismay the nasty heavy pieces of steel slipped off the hook that was supporting it and fell the three inches on top of my thumb. I yanked my hand back with such force that I pulled the end of my thumb straight off! I obviously let out a bloody great yell and took a look at it in the gloom of being under the floor. It looked like somebody had clumsily broken the end off a cigar. There was the bone sticking out and my nail gone. The lads above were shouting “Are you alright?” I came crawling back to the exit hole and stuck my thumb up first so that those above could see my thumb before the rest of my body emerged. There was a chorus of ”Arrrrrgh!” I assessed why the beam had slipped and realised it was my own fault for rushing around like a headless chicken and not securing it properly. Off I sped in my van to the hospital again cursing my bloody incompetence and the fact that I was wasting valuable time. I had my apprentice driving and I was spurring him on to the point of exceeding the speed limit. I was holding my thumb and blowing on it to relieve the throbbing. From nowhere I spotted a police car overtaking us, the cop was hanging out of the window gesticulating for us to stop. Fucking hell said my driver. Don’t worry I said let me do the talking. He walked up to us after parking his car, stuck his head through the open window and asked us what time were we taking off. He obviously had a great sense of humour. Having been involved in many altercations with the law I had come to a point where I could usually evaluate their good and bad propensities and act accordingly. I stuck my thumb right under his nose at which he grimaced and enquired how I had done it. I quickly told him at which point he exhorted me to leap into his car and that he would take me. He turned out to be a good guy and I had him laughing as we sped off to hospital. He told me he had to call into the police station, which he would be passing on our way. When he got there minutes later he asked me to come in with him so that he could show the female cops my thumb. This I agreed to as by this time my thumb had settled down and had stopped throbbing. I walked around the office sticking it in front of the girl cops eyes. They invariably asked me if it hurt to which I answered, “Only if I laugh.” Having showed them all, I suggested to the officer that it might be a good idea to press on to the hospital. Off we went straight to reception; I gave the receptionist all my details and I was hurried through to see a doctor. I was prepared and sent to theatre where a surgeon operated and took off the exposed bone, after which he skin-grafted where necessary. When I came out of theatre I phoned my wife, and told her I had cut the end of my….. At which point she screamed thinking I was going to say penis. She calmed down when she heard me say thumb. The doctor told me to keep the amputation clean and come back in a few days. It was evening when my wife arrived so I went home to a hearty meal.
I went to work the following morning wondering how I would manage. The crew had got the girders in position and bricked the pillars around the stanchions. We had another wall to build at this stage so when the labourers got the bricks and mortar loaded up I got my trowel from my toolbox. “You are not going to work?” some of the lads inquired, I told them I was going to see how I go on. I used my fight hand for holding my trowel and this was the hand that was minus the partly missing thumb. It felt good so I spread a couple of trowels of mortar along the length of the wall, no problem to my delight. So off we went with no delay to get the job back on its way. Say! That rhymes
Another visit to the site by the Master (Don). All works nearly completed. Everyone happy Don more than impressed by the speed we have worked and I’ve heard that he is singing my praises all over the place. He calls me over and I follow him outside. He pulls his dick out and starts urinating on one of the gravestones. I laughed to myself and marvelled at his uninhibited demeanour. I mean what sort of multimillionaire would go flashing his tackle in such an audacious manor? He didn’t even cover it up and I was surprised at how small it was. I could have given him a run for his money in that department. I thought it better if I refrained from mentioning that observation to him. Ha Ha! He turned to me upon completing his urination and asked me what it would cost to remove all the gravestones to make way for a car park. There must have been two acres of ground containing graves and was a lot of material to move beside the fact that he would be breaking the law without asking for permission. His answer was what I expected, “Fuck the law lets just get it done and suffer the consequences if and when they arise” I told him if I move them I don’t want to accept responsibility in the event of an inquest. He assured me it would be down to him. I agreed and told him we would have to motor quickly to get them away post-haste before anyone in authority saw us. I told him of a demolition firm I knew well who would shift the lot in two days. I told him that I would get a quote from them and come back to him. I got the quote put the usual ten percent on and told them that I wanted half the money they got for the tombstones. I knew they would only give me a quarter anyway. That was the deal and they accepted it. I passed this on to Don and after a bit of wrangling and me dropping a few hundred pounds off he accepted it and he told me to press on with the job as quickly as possible.
The demolition firm arrived on site with two big wagons and a big machine that had a lifting bucket on it half the size of a terraced house. They came at seven in the morning to get a good start before the prying eyes of the authorities got out of bed. After the first day they had almost shifted half of the graves. The site was looking bare just what Don wanted and there was no outside interference. The second day by twelve o’clock they only had thirty percent to move. The crew had stopped working to have their lunch and were sat inside the building drinking tea and eating their sandwiches. I was outside setting the positions of the concrete pad stones, which were to support the columns that held up the canopy over the main entrance of the club. As I was doing this I saw a woman walking towards me holding a big bunch of flowers in her hands. She stopped some yards away looked from left to right and asked me in a pitched voice where all the gravestones had gone. I told her they had all been cleared away to facilitate the placing of a car park; she hurried away crying and telling me she would look into it. I thought Christ, wait till I tell Don. When the demolition men finished their break they emerged from within and I told the boss what had happened. He told me he would speed up as much as possible in an effort to remove the others before the church authorities came on site. Don came with a guy from the church late afternoon and all work on the removal had to stop. There was only about twenty graves left and he was forbidden to move them until a service was held by the church and they were moved to the side of the car park where they remain to this day. How the hell he got away with it God only knows.
A couple of days later my works were completed to the satisfaction of the architect and Don. I loaded my vehicles and off I departed with joy in my heart and a song on my lips. Off me and my small team drove back to my builders yard with me laughing and joking all the way. Promising myself that I would never take a job like that on ever again. I would stick to house extensions where I could be in and out with great alacrity.