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**I've retirurned. UnLike the /all function, I will never return**

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» My sex misconceptions

Three's a crowd
My sex misconception was that having my first threesome would be a good idea.

It didn’t happen by accident. One of my best mates, let’s call him Darren, had a girlfriend who was liberal to the point of having no inhibitions whatsoever. This suited Darren perfectly and he used to boast to me regularly about the latest perversion they’d tested in the bedroom (or the kitchen, or the park… you get the idea).

I was midway through Uni at the time but Darren and I had been friends all the way through school, been in sports teams together and it’s fair to say we knew each other about as well as two guys can, or so I thought. His girlfriend Jenny was a couple of years older than us but we’d both known her at school too. She was a stunning girl and great fun but unashamedly also a sexual deviant.

The night of Darren’s birthday was when it happened. We were all a bit drunk and in no mood to stop when the music at the nightclub finished, so it was decided to go back to their house to continue the party. In the back of the cab, Jenny in the middle and Darren and me on either side, it became clear I was in for more than I’d bargained when she started groping me. A quick glance to the left revealed that Darren was already getting a hand job. He turned to me and said “Jenny’s always fancied a threes-up with you and me, how about it?”.

Well, what could I say? Nothing, as it happened. She winked at me, I smiled nervously in reply and she unbuttoned my flies with her free hand …

After an awkward payment to the blushing cabbie, we piled into their house and into the living room. I had no idea what to expect, it felt like losing my virginity again. She dabbled with the idea of just getting down to it right there, but Darren pointed out that the bedroom would be more comfortable. Our trio of bodies gradually made its way through the hallway and up the stairs, Jenny occasionally stopping to lick or fondle our various body parts. By the time we arrived at the bedroom, our clothes were all over the house.

I let Jenny dictate the pace when she wasn’t using her skills on Darren as I really didn’t know what I was doing; I’d had plenty of solo partners myself but this was my first ménage-a-trois so I didn’t want to overstep whatever boundaries remained. Nevertheless, trying to be passive and gentlemanly in such rare circumstances just doesn’t work.

Growing bored of switching attention back and forth between our respective cocks, Jenny commanded Darren to fuck her hard, and he happily obliged. While he was busily shagging her from behind, I decided to engage in a bit of ‘spit roasting’, then she insisted that we swap ends. It was certainly a weird feeling to be fucking my best mate’s girl while he was being fellated by her a couple of feet away, watching my every thrust intently. It was all a bit surreal and I didn’t think it would go any further, but Jenny wanted to try every conceivable position available to the three of us. She laid me on the bed, straddled me and invited Darren to fill her vacant rear entrance. It turns out that double penetration is much more difficult than porn movies would have you believe.

After an unenjoyable sojourn into shitty city, Darren decided it was time to watch me and Jenny for a bit while he “cleaned himself off”… yuck. I was still lying on the bed so Jenny assumed the classic ‘69’ position and began giving me a very fine blowjob while I got to work on her. Darren couldn’t stand just watching so after a few cursory wipes he decided to resume his previous position in Jenny’s wrong ‘un, which was fine for him. However, it placed me in the unenviable position of having to look directly up at his sweaty ballsack and arse. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on Jenny’s excellent technique rather than my best friend’s pendulous undercarriage slamming into her chocolate exit strategy.

With my eyes closed, I was finally starting to enjoy the experience myself. I could feel the pressure building as Jenny demonstrated her lack of a meaningful gag reflex and could tell she was enjoying my oral generosity too. She was really wet to the point of dripping into my mouth, so I lapped it up like a dog eating a melted ice cream. I’d never experienced anything like it before, but it was a real turn on to know she was getting so much pleasure, even if she did taste a bit different to most of the girls I’d been with before. After another minute or two she finished me off in her mouth. Feeling rather exhausted and self conscious again, I opened my eyes again only to find that Darren was already lying next to us. Confused, I looked up and noticed a trickle of light brown fluid running from Jenny’s fudge box, all the way down her lady-garden and stretching onto my own lips.

Unfortunately for me, while I had been lost in mutual oral pleasure with my eyes closed, Darren had quietly emptied a remarkable load of hot monkey custard into Jenny’s backside, and then he’d pulled out with predictable results. It wasn’t my tongue that had made her beef pocket so impressively moist after all. The worst part was that I’d swallowed most of the devil’s own cocktail in the mistaken belief that it was my prize for being so good at cunnilingus. I ended up blaming the ensuing bout of puking on the evening’s drinks.

So kids, my advice to you is: if you ever end up being asked to a threesome, for goodness’ sake, either get the boy/girl ratio right or ensure that gravity is on your side.

Apologies if the ending to this tale has left a nasty taste in your mouth too.
(Wed 1st Oct 2008, 11:28, More)

» Public Sex

Sin at the cinema
Regular readers of my posts may remember my university XXX-ex, who was always up for a gunky fumble. It took me a few months to bring her round to this way of thinking, as when we first met she was a shy, naive 18-year old first year whereas I was 21, wise in the ways of mucky love and in my final year. I like to think I gave her the education she never expected to receive at Uni and in that respect she graduated with (dis)honours by the time I received my own degree at the end of that year.

I should point out now that this story fills me with shame. Fuck it though, I’ve told worse on this site (I think) so I’ll continue.

On this occasion, it was a typical Saturday in our unremarkable university town sometime in late autumn. She and I were bored and doing nothing in particular in the town centre so I suggested we go to see a movie. It had been a while since either of us had been to the cinema and we had nothing better to do so we trundled off to the local fleapit with a pocketful of coins between us.

After purchasing our tickets, a couple of brightly-coloured fizzy beverages and a box of stale popcorn, we climbed the stairs of the historic (i.e. knackered) building to the screens and ventured inside the dimly-lit auditorium. It was an older independent cinema which had a certain weathered charm despite being at least twenty years behind in technology. The showing was on one of the smaller screens which was three-quarters full already, so we picked a spot on the back row in the centre, the best view still available.

The venue had a fairly steep pitch to the seating rows more akin to a West End theatre. As we scaled the climb to the top, I declared that it was much better to sit at the back where we could chat and rustle our snacks without upsetting the other cinemagoers. You may have guessed that snacks were not the only thing I planned on rustling, but uncharacteristically I didn’t mention it at the time.

The trailer reel flickered and the popcorn was placed on the seat next to us (no fancy snappy seats in this place). We slunk down into the deceptively comfortable dents of the well-worn chairs and held hands, happily munching away on the tasteless, squidgy kernels. The rest of the seats in the theatre filled up while we kissed and cuddled, then the movie began.

We sat and watched the first hour or so, occasionally planting a peck on a cheek during the quiet moments. I was less than impressed with the onscreen antics, my girlfriend rather more so. She was a big fan of the best-selling book on which the film was based, but I hadn’t read it so she spent much of the time telling me all about the characters and how they’d done a great job of translating it to the screen. I didn’t really care. By the end of the first half, I was more pre-occupied with caressing her legs than with what was happening in the story. I slowly worked my way up her thighs, drawing little circles with my fingers until my hands had crept oh-so-softly under her skirt.

By the time she realised what I was doing, I’d already managed to get one finger inside the silky material of her panties. She leaned over and whispered “I bet you can’t make me come with just that one finger…” Always willing to accept a challenge, I gently, steadily began fiddling with her pussy, sliding the nominated digit alternately around her rapidly moistening underlips and her perfect, pointy nubbin. She’d shaved herself that morning (at my request, naturally) so it was like gliding a bar of wet soap across a polished glass table. I probably enjoyed it as much as she did, as I began feeling the resistance that only a pair of snug-fitting jeans versus a swelling cock can bring. I adjusted my trouser configuration accordingly in order to concentrate on the task at hand (so to speak).

Like all girls, she was a complicated piece of sexual machinery, but by now I knew exactly which buttons to press having had plenty of practice. I won the challenge without too much difficulty before the movie plot had had time to advance, whereupon I removed my hand and caught a glimpse of her flushing cheeks as an explosion on screen lit up her satisfied, grinning face.

Wordlessly, she moved her hand across my chest, down my stomach and very quietly undid my belt and buttons on my jeans. I’d used the time-honoured teenage boy’s trick of ‘hiding’ my engorged fuck cudgel by tucking it up into the waistband of my underwear, so it was already poking out of the top and winking at her, a salty tear of happiness forming in its dribbling eye. She wiped that expression of joy all around the now fully-exposed head, tickling and teasing me for several scenes as I tried to maintain self-control and obstruct the view for any potential observers. The people on our row were mercifully engrossed in the film, but had they turned round at any time we would have been well and truly busted.

It felt like it went on forever; she maintained a consistent, delightfully frustrating tempo which kept me on the edge of a wave of incredible sensations. As the final act of the movie began to draw to a close, I could feel the internal strain mounting as she finally starting pumping the full length of my rigid shaft in anger, applying her own freshly-made lubricant direct from the hairless factory between her legs.

Time for a quick segway here: like many students, I’d discovered internet porn at Uni, becoming a little too obsessed with generating huge loads like a porn star. After reading up on it, I tried an exercise programme for my pubic muscles and took various supplements amongst other things to improve the dirtcustard drench factor. Those studies bore fruit (well, seed anyway) and I was pleased with the visible improvement each time I emptied my nuts. At that moment, I was lost in ecstasy, my kegel muscles twitching involuntarily in sync with her motion. My newfound sexual discipline and ability also had the wonderful side-effect of making the gradual build-up astonishingly intense; indeed it ranks as one of the greatest handjobs I have ever received, the ingredients of risk, downright filth and expert handling all mixed in perfect quantities and baked at exactly 37 degrees.

With seconds to spare before I was going to release my sticky payload, it occurred to me that it was going to have to end up somewhere. I said “use your mouth, quick!” but she’d grown wary after I’d recently choked her with a surprise mouthful, so she just smiled at me and shook her head, by which time it was too late.

Bursting with the force of a firehose, my slippery seeds of sin arced up and outwards in a gruesome parabola towards the murky void of patrons seated below. It was a mind-blowing, body-paralysing orgasm and in the second or so that it took me to regain control of my motor functions, I’d sprayed two or three generous jets of jizz far and wide into the depths of the audience beneath. I grabbed my jerking cock from her hand and aimed it straight down, nearly snapping the bastard off in the process as the rest of my shameful outburst splattered the seatback in front of me. I clumsily stuffed it back in my pants, my withering meat puppet still coughing out the final dregs of sex relish all over my hands and underwear.

My girlfriend could hardly contain her amusement at what had happened, but I was shitting myself with panic. However, after a couple of minutes of absolutely no reaction whatsoever, it appeared that I had got away with it. As the credits rolled, the lights came on and it was suddenly obvious why I had escaped their wrath. The people who had filled the rows in front of us at the start of the movie must have taken the brunt of my disgusting cum-shrapnel. However, some of these people were worryingly short, small and childlike. On account that they actually *were* children.

Oh dear god, what had I done…?

We had been watching the first Harry Potter film, during the daytime, on the weekend, and so the audience directly below us had consisted –somewhat unsurprisingly-- of swathes of school-age children with a few parents in tow. I couldn’t bear to look as without a doubt, the majority of my gluey deposits had ended up tangled in their innocent, golden curls. It probably ranks as the worst accidental public paedo-bukkake incident in British cinema history.

Great handjob though, truly up there with the best of ‘em.
(Fri 24th Apr 2009, 11:19, More)

» Customers from Hell

The worst customers in the worst bar in the worst part of the worst town on the planet
I used to work in a dockside bar that was, to put it mildly, a little rough.

It all began after I moved to this well-known (and utterly crap) port town. The town itself was bad enough, rammed full of ne'er-do-wells and a smorgasbord of freaks, but the closer you got to the port the worse the punters became. The vile clientele that poured through our doors was continuously topped-up thanks to the convenient location of the bar. It was the first watering hole the transients clattered into as they stepped off their ships onto terra firma. Some of our customers wouldn't have looked out of place in a zoo and a couple still make me shudder when I remember how nauseating they were.

The bar itself was a monumental shithole. The drab interior got wrecked most weeks by the locals fighting with the fleeting (then fleeing) masses. The owner had tried to add a pointless touch of sparkle by hosting live acoustic jazz bands most nights, but the contrast between the music and the atmosphere was laughable. Imagine a clarinet concerto in the aftermath of the Brixton riots and you'll be halfway there. My job as chief barman was without question the worst means of paying my rent I've ever had.

I'd only been working there for six months but I'd just about had enough, what with having to blindly ignore the constant criminal activity and put up with the ebb and flow of human detritus that wafted through. I’d developed a bit of a cunt's attitude to my customers, as it was the only way to get through the nights. The final straw came on a particularly busy shift. To give you some idea of the kind of bullshit I had to put up with, earlier in the day I'd endured a full sweep of the place by the authorities to assist them with a fucking manhunt. It was definitely not shaping up to be a good evening. I was serving a particularly short-fused customer with the motley jazz band in full swing when the door swung open. I knew at once we were due for big trouble.

It was a group of four drifters who looked *completely* out of place; that is, they looked relatively normal compared to our usual patrons. The first problem was that two of the members of this group were obviously flaming homosexuals and this was *not* a gay-friendly bar. The taller chap was a sight to behold. He was worryingly camp, wearing a lurid gold outfit that Liberace himself would have sent back to the shop for being too ostentatious. The short, fat one was relatively straight-acting but I’d already made my mind up. This feckless bling-clad mincer and his stumpy companion were attracting exactly the wrong kind of attention from the burly crowd assembled in front of the bar. I had to do something quickly, so I made it clear that I wouldn’t be serving either of them. The young bloke in the group had a quick word and thankfully, the sad-faced queers retreated rapidly towards the exit in order to avoid what otherwise would've ended with a merciless beating. I felt bad, but it was better than clearing up their body parts.

The other two gentlemen stayed in the bar. The old fellow wandered over to one of our regulars and started chatting, which was a little strange as I knew the guy couldn’t speak English at all. It seemed that they were acquaintances though, so I turned away from the bar for a moment to collect my thoughts. Almost as soon as I’d turned around, I felt a tug at my shirt. It was the young guy again. He gave me an understanding nod but didn’t actually say anything. I still felt rather grateful and relieved for his swift help a few moments earlier, so I handed over a free drink which he silently accepted.

Barely ten seconds later, it all kicked off. One of the foreign dockhands in the bar spotted my act of charity for this stranger and took exception to his special treatment. I turned to see this fearsomely-ugly thug march over to shove him hard and begin a drooling tirade of unintelligible drunken aggression. One of the dockhand’s mates joined in with the intimidation tactics. They were both very drunk, but I overheard him slur something about a criminal record followed by a death threat. That was par for the course in this place. The young stranger kept cool, but the altercation had obviously unnerved the poor chap. Before he’d had a chance to think about retaliation, his elderly friend had left the chit-chat with my regular customer and stepped into the situation himself.

The old man tried his best to calm things down, but by now it was too far gone and a fight was ready to break out. Without any further warning, the dockhand’s mate grabbed the younger guy and flung him across the room into a table full of drinks. I spotted a gun being produced so I ducked behind the bar, where I then heard a terrifying scream. The commotion died down and I re-emerged to find the assailant lying on the ground, one arm completely severed and the old man standing there wielding a glowing energy sword. I watched blankly as he returned it to his belt, my customers continued with their business and the band continued playing their god-awful music as if nothing had even happened.

Like I said, it was a fucking shithole.
(Mon 8th Sep 2008, 20:59, More)

» Expensive Mistakes

I.T. is a minefield for expensive mistakes
There's so many different ways to screw up. The best you can hope for in a support role is to be invisible. If anyone notices your support team at all, you can rest assured it's because someone has made a mistake. I've worked for three major investment banks, but at the first place I witnessed one of the most impressive mistakes I'm ever likely to see in my career. I was part of the sales and trading production support team, but thankfully it wasn't me who made this grave error of judgement...

(I'll delve into obnoxious levels of detail here to add colour and context if you're interested. If not, just skip to the next chunk, you impatient git)

This bank had pioneered a process called straight-through processing (STP) which removes the normal manual processes of placement, checking, settling and clearing of trades. Trades done in the global marketplace typically have a 5-day clearing period to allow for all the paperwork and book-keeping to be done. This elaborate system allowed same-day settlement, something never previously possible. The bank had achieved this over a period of six years by developing a computer system with a degree of complexity that rivalled SkyNet. By 2006 it also probably had enough processing power to become self-aware, and the storage requirements were absolutely colossal. It consisted of hundreds of bleeding edge compute-farm blade servers, several £multi-million top-end database servers and the project had over 300 staff just to keep it running. To put that into perspective, the storage for this one system (one of about 500 major trading systems at the bank) represented over 80% of the total storage used within the company. The equivalent of 100 DVD's worth of raw data entered the databases each day as it handled over a million inter-bank trades, each ranging in value from a few hundred thousand dollars to multi-billion dollar equity deals. This thing was BIG.

You'd think such a critically important and expensive system would run on the finest, fault-tolerant hardware and software. Unfortunately, it had grown somewhat organically over the years, with bits being added here, there and everywhere. There were parts of this system that no-one understood any more, as the original, lazy developers had moved company, emigrated or *died* without documenting their work. I doubt they ever predicted the monster it would eventually become.

A colleague of mine one day decided to perform a change during the day without authorisation, which was foolish, but not uncommon. It was a trivial change to add yet more storage and he'd done it many times before so he was confident about it. The guy was only trying to be helpful to the besieged developers, who were constantly under pressure to keep the wretched thing moving as it got more bloated each day, like an electronic ‘Mr Creosote’.

As my friend applied his change that morning, he triggered a bug in a notoriously crap script responsible for bringing new data disks online. The script had been coded in-house as this saved the bank about £300 per year on licensing fees for the official ‘storage agents’ provided by the vendor. Money that, in hindsight, would perhaps have been better spent instead of pocketed. The homebrew code took one look at the new configuration and immediately spazzed out. This monged scrap of pisspoor geek-scribble had decided the best course of action was to bring down the production end of the system and bring online the disaster recovery (DR) end, which is normal behaviour when it detects a catastrophic 'failure'. It’s designed to bring up the working side of the setup as quickly as possible. Sadly, what with this system being fully-replicated at both sites (to [cough] ensure seamless recovery), the exact same bug was almost instantly triggered on the DR end, so in under a minute, the hateful script had taken offline the entire system in much the same manner as chucking a spanner into a running engine might stop a car. The databases, as always, were flushing their precious data onto many different disks as this happened, so massive, irreversible data corruption occurred. That was it, the biggest computer system in the bank, maybe even the world, was down.

And it wasn't coming back up again quickly.

(OK, detail over. Calm down)

At the time this failure occurred there was more than $12 TRILLION of trades at various stages of the settlement process in the system. This represented around 20% of ALL trades on the global stock market, as other banks had started to plug into this behemoth and use its capabilities themselves. If those trades were not settled within the agreed timeframe, the bank would be liable for penalties on each and every one, the resulting fines would eclipse the market capital of the company, and so it would go out of business. Just like that.

My team dropped everything it was doing and spent 4 solid, brutal hours recovering each component of the system in a desperate effort to coax the stubborn silicon back online. After a short time, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) was on a crisis call with our company CEO, demanding status updates as to why so many trades were failing that day. Allegedly (as we were later told), the volume of financial goodies contained within this beast was so great that failure to clear the trades would have had a significant negative effect on the value of the Euro currency. This one fuckup almost started a global economic crisis on a scale similar to the recent (and ongoing) sub-prime credit crash. With two hours to spare before the ECB would be forced to go public by adjusting the Euro exchange rate to compensate, the system was up and running, but barely. We each manned a critical sub-component and diverted all resources into the clearing engines. The developers set the system to prioritise trades on value. Everything else on those servers was switched off to ensure every available CPU cycle and disk operation could be utilised. It saturated those machines with processing while we watched in silence, unable to influence the outcome at all.

Incredibly, the largest proportion of the high-value transactions had cleared by the close of business deadline, and disaster was averted by the most "wafer-thin" margin. Despite this, the outstanding lower-value trades still cost the bank more than $100m in fines. Amazingly, to this day only a handful of people actually understand the true source of those penalties on the end-of-year shareholder report. Reputation is king in the world of banking (see Northern Rock for details!) and all concerned --including me-- were instructed quite explicitly to keep schtum. Naturally, I *can’t* identify the bank in question, but if you’re still curious, gaz me and I’ll point you in the right direction…

Epilogue… The bank stumped up for proper scripts pretty quickly but the poor sap who started this ball of shit rolling was fired in a pompous ceremony of blame the next day, which was rather unfair as it was dodgy coding which had really caused the problem. The company rationale was that every blaze needs a spark to start it, and he was going to be the one they would scapegoat. That was one of the major reasons I chose to leave the company (but not before giving the global head of technology a dressing down at our Christmas party… that’s another QOTW altogether). Even today my errant mate is one of the only people who properly understands most of that preposterous computer system, so he had his job back within six months -- but at a higher rate than before :-)

Conclusion: most banks are insane and they never do anything to fix problems until *after* it costs them uber-money. Did I hear you mention length? 100 million dollar bills in fines laid end-to-end is about 9,500 miles long according to Google calculator.
(Thu 25th Oct 2007, 21:02, More)

» Conspiracy theory nutters

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 30th Aug 2009, 8:02, More)
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