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This is a question Conspiracy theory nutters

I keep getting collared by a bloke who says that the war in Afghanistan is a cover for our Illuminati Freemason Shapeshifting Lizard masters to corner the market in mind-bending drugs. "It's true," he says, "I heard it on TalkSport". Tell us your stories of encounters with tinfoil hatters.

Thanks to Davros' Granddad

(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 13:52)
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The Great Coal Disappearance of 1954
Barely on-topic, but this story deserves to be told...

My father was born in a small village in Northamptonshire just before the end of the second world war. The eldest child of the family, he fondly remembers the following tale, the events of which were recounted to him, and then to me by my grandfather and great-uncle, a pair of cynical, hard-working Scots who had moved to the region to work in the then-burgeoning steel industry.

After the war ended, fuel rationing stayed in effect for many years. This often led to shortages, especially during the colder months. The winter of 1954 was particularly harsh and many families in my father's village had used their coal rations before the year was out, leaving the coldest months of January and February still to come. This meant finding and gathering huge amounts of dry firewood became necessary, which was extremely hard work in the cold, wet weather.

Around this time, a new link road was being built between the closest towns of Kettering and Corby. It would run right past my father's village and had been scheduled for completion by the autumn but had run into several delays. The inclement weather hampered things further, but not for the reasons you might expect. The road-rolling machines all ran on steam at the time, which was fuelled by coal. Plenty of it, too. The coal bunkers for the rollers were located about 2 miles from my dad's village, roughly in the middle of the two nearby towns, but otherwise isolated.

As the winter months drew in, reports began to appear in the local news of break-ins at the road building site. It was unclear at first as to what had been taken, so the local police initially put it down to errant youths. However, the nature of the break-ins soon revealed itself. The bounty was coal, and it was being stolen to the extent that work on the road had to be postponed until fresh deliveries could be made. This enraged the local councilors, who demanded a full and proper police investigation.

Inevitably, the local village policeman, a portly, ruddy-faced chap who knew everyone well, came round asking if anyone had heard anything about the coal thefts. My grandfather said he'd heard of a gang who were stealing to order in Kettering. My great-uncle, on the other hand, thought it was actually a bunch of gypsies who were staying near Corby, as they had the horse and cart needed to move it. This seemed to intrigue the local bobby, who made detailed notes in his little notebook. It corroborated stories from a couple of the other villagers, so with that he pushed his squeaky bicycle back to the road and cycled back to the station.

The next day, the newspaper stated that the search had widened for the thieves and lo', the suspects were spread across Kettering and Corby. Stunning police work, I think you will agree. The following days saw a reward posted, plus job adverts for a night watchmen on the site and so my grandfather signed up to make a bit of extra money. Upon starting work that evening, he suggested to the foreman that the coal should be moved to the steamrollers themselves and hidden under their protective tarpaulins. That way, if any was stolen from the bunker site, the rollers could still work in the morning, giving time to refill the bunkers. The foreman agreed that this was a good plan, and most of the coal was quickly shoveled onto a truck and moved to the steamrollers, to be hidden as suggested, while my grandfather patrolled the bunker site itself.

Early the next morning, on his way home from his uneventful shift, my grandfather passed the labourers who had arrived to fire up their boilers so work could resume. When the site foreman arrived, he found the drivers standing around chatting and waiting for the coal delivery, as they hadn't been told it had been secretly moved. Presumably chuckling to himself, the foreman peeled back the tarpaulin on the first roller to reveal... an empty coal basket. Confused, he did the same on the rest of the machines. All of them were empty. I'm told that his face turned a rare shade of red and steam could be seen hissing from his ears at this development.

My grandfather was woken up a few hours later by a familiar knock at the door. The policeman stood there, a puzzled look on his face. "Did you hear anything last night?" he asked my tired grandfather. He replied that, being at the bunker site which was nowhere near the steamrollers, he hadn't heard anything all night. The policeman returned to question the day workers later that evening. The weather had turned bad, with snow falling in great chunks through the bitterly cold night air. The policeman was invited into the house to warm up and dry off and offered a cup of tea and some leftover stew, then he cheerfully asked the same questions to my great-uncle. He'd unfortunately slept soundly all night and heard nothing.

The bobby eventually put his helmet back on, thanked my father's family for their hospitality and trundled back down the garden path with his trusty, rusty bicycle. The deepening snow meant he'd need to walk back to the station. As he turned to wave goodbye, his head tilted skyward and he scanned left and right along the rooftops, standing in the blizzard for a couple of minutes and collecting a layer of snow on his thick winter cloak. He seemed transfixed by something in the sky above the houses. He scratched his chin, looked back at my ten year-old father at the window, who waved again, and scowled before stomping away with his bicycle at his side.

My father remembers running into the street to see what had captured the policeman's attention for so long. As he shivered, my dad looked up but all he could see was the normal sight of the village rooftops.... each one bearing a chimney... and from each of those chimneys, thick plumes of hot, white smoke poured out into the freezing night. Hmmm...

Upon arriving for his patrol job that evening, my grandfather was turned away as the foreman had decided to use a different coal storage site far away in Leicestershire in a final attempt to deter the wily coal-poachers, even though it meant adding even more delays. At this point though, it hardly mattered. Between my grandfather, my great-uncle and a couple of fellow villagers, they had shifted enough coal in a few evenings to last the entire village for at least the rest of this winter, perhaps the next one too. Every house in the village had a shed full to bursting with high-grade government-sponsored coal. The stroke of genius was convincing the foreman to move it all to the steamrollers, which had meant that it was close enough for the conspiring villagers to intercept the entire load in the dead of night. As my father recalls, it was the warmest Christmas ever that year, at least inside the house anyway. The village policeman never pursued his obvious suspicions, I like to think he was secretly impressed.

So, no nutters, one fairly solid police theory but the great coal conspiracy remains officially unsolved.
(, Sun 30 Aug 2009, 8:02, 10 replies)
This reminds me of a Roald Dahl book
I just can't think of the name of it :)
(, Mon 31 Aug 2009, 11:32, closed)
champion of the world, perchance?

There's a great bit in that book involving pheasant poaching using horse hair to tickle the birds' throat. Incidentally, my grandad and his brother used to poach pheasants too. They hid a shotgun wrapped in an old army greatcoat on the railway line near their village, then went out around 11:30ish, collecting the gun on route to the woods where the pheasants slept in the trees. They'd find some roosting birds, take aim and wait for the church bells to start chiming for midnight before giving them both barrels, in time with the ding-dongs.

They had loads of stories like this. I'll probably post some more someday.
(, Mon 31 Aug 2009, 13:33, closed)
I like this
Putting one over on "the man" since 1945
(, Mon 31 Aug 2009, 18:28, closed)
I think maybe you're thinking of Whiskey Galore or something simillar.
Although there's a bit of a difference between stealing coal or food to stop yourself dying, and beating up a bunch of sailors to steal some booze.
(, Tue 1 Sep 2009, 19:44, closed)
Nope, never read that

(, Tue 1 Sep 2009, 22:18, closed)
Gets my click
Great read - truly heartwarming. And having spent most of my youth in Northamptonshire I've encountered many of the expat Scots, and they're the nicest people in the whole sodding world.

Very Danny Champion of the World - if you cut out the bodily functions and disgusting threesomes in your output you could make a fortune as a childrens writer, mate.
(, Tue 1 Sep 2009, 9:43, closed)
Children these days
they expect nothing less than gruesome descriptions of fat cocks splitting open pert, fizzing cloppers. A little hardcore sex writing couldn't possibly sully their already-soiled 21st-century minds.

Danny: Champion of the World's Biggest Gangbang. On shelves soon.
(, Tue 1 Sep 2009, 14:33, closed)
Sounds great...
Think I'll hold out for the pop-up version.
(, Tue 1 Sep 2009, 15:51, closed)
I'll wait for the scratch and sniff version

(, Tue 1 Sep 2009, 17:33, closed)
Have a click from me.
(, Thu 3 Sep 2009, 10:11, closed)

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