Chapter Number 21
Monday morning and I was up at 5am to check the rooms for the six young men and the two warders accompanying them. On instructions it was to be three to a room and the two warders in a twin room. The rooms looked ghastly by now, having been seriously scuffed-up by the set designer for effect, but they were at least ready.
An hour later and the film crew were busy hanging lights and setting up cameras, with cables running everywhere. The kitchen became a busy thoroughfare for the crew as they went back and forth to the catering van for their meals and endless tea breaks. I wondered just how I was expected to serve a breakfast to the special guests with all the traffic, but then to get me out of everyone’s way it was agreed that, as this would not be a feature of the film, the catering van would prepare the meals for me and all I had to do was run them through to the dining room. A fabulous arrangement, and free too!
I had been well briefed as to where I was to stand whilst booking them in, and had several rehearsals with some of the crew in just how I was to show them to their rooms, so as not to spoil the camera angles. I was even given a short script to learn on what I was to say to them on their arrival.
At midday a plain green mini-van arrived at the front. I knew it must be my guests as a loud cheer erupted when the door was opened. Out they all leapt.
“Bit of a shit hole,” one of them shouted to the others clambering out.
“Yeah, what a dump!" exclaimed another.
“Thought it was supposed to be a proper hotel. Hope it’s got a f-------g bar,” another one said.
“Right you lot! Enough of that! Get inside now or we shall go straight back,” one of the minders commanded.
I noticed that fortunately they were both dressed in civilian clothes, with just a small HMP logo on their blue-striped shirts.
“Miserable old c---t,” muttered another lad as he just pushed past me standing at the door ready to greet them all.
The last of the lads, on his way in, noticed Cynthia next door, done up to the nines again and polishing the railings outside her place whilst intently watching this rabble coming in. “Ullo darling, watch yur doing tonight then?” he called across to her with a wink and a cheeky smile.
Cynthia just turned on her heels and fled back indoors, as one of the minders took the lad by the arm and pulled him past me and straight through into the dining room from where I could hear him being given a severe lecture.
The routine check-in that was expected, and that I had rehearsed, went out of the window as the other minder, still at the door with the lads discussing their movements for the day, took all the room keys from my hand and decided it was he who would show them up to their rooms. So up they all trooped, dragging their bags clumsily against my hallway wall as they climbed the stairs, with me following on behind.
“In you go,” he ordered the first three lads, beckoning them into the first treble room, and then similarly to the other two into the other treble room. That done, he then leaned over the balcony and yelled down for the other lad to get his "arse upstairs, sharpish, now!" With them all in their rooms he reminded them about not smoking or drinking on the premises, or to use any bad language, none of which would be tolerated. “Bo---x!” came a retort from one of the rooms.
I had really hoped for a better class of morons. These did seem a tad uncouth and I was already feeling nervous, but I consoled myself that at least they had their minders with them.
Shouting out that the lads should assemble in the dining room for refreshments in 30 minutes, the minders disappeared into their own room. One then popped his head back around the door and said, “Don’t worry about coming up here again, Darryl. We will keep the little buggers under control, you take it easy. Just organize some tea and coffee with a few biscuits in the dining room for half an hour, if you can."
Well this wasn’t part of the plan, so off I went to see the film director to ask if I could get the refreshments from the catering van out in the back yard. He was hastily adjusting cameras and lights. “Yes,” he replied, “give them anything they ask for, it’s all going just great."
The camera crew, which had been holed-up in a room on the top floor watching the event on monitors whilst controlling all the cameras and sound from a mixer panel, thought it was really good television so far. One of them came to tell me to just sit in on the dining room briefing to be given to the lads, and then to leave the minders to look after them. I would not be needed again until breakfast the next morning. Suits me, I thought.
Out at the catering van I requested, “Tea, coffee and biscuits for nine, thank you. Oh, and one of those cream cakes too, please.” Then, as I didn’t see why I should leave myself out, I went on, “Better make it two of those ham sandwiches and a couple of doughnuts as well.” I quickly popped the additional items down into my bedroom for later. After all, I had been told to get anything that was wanted.
Down they all came into the dining room, with the minders close behind them, so I settled down with the tea and biscuits to listen to the minders giving them the rules for their stay. No alcohol on the premises, keep away from the pubs, no visits to the betting shops, no picking up ladies of the night (didn’t mention men though!), back by 10 pm, no drugs, they were to make their own beds and keep their rooms clean (it gets better, I thought!), and finally they were not to travel out of the area of Southtrend-On-Sea. With that they were all given £20 each for the day, apparently from what they had saved from allowances whilst in the detention centre, and told to bugger off and stay out of trouble.
With a cheer, and the noise of my chairs suddenly being pushed back and cast aside, they all made for the door with great excitement as they left to explore the town. As soon as the last of the boys had gone through the door the minders stated that, after an hour’s paperwork, they would be going off to the pub for the afternoon. They would leave me their mobile phone number for emergencies.
After all that work up it went surprisingly well, and as they had all gone out for the day it meant that I had absolutely nothing to do until breakfast the following morning, and even then I wouldn’t have to cook it!
A little later, the film director decided to hold a meeting to congratulate all the crew on the great footage and to plan the action for when the lads returned. Then he dispatched a mobile film crew to see if they could spot any of the lads in town and get some further footage. With great haste they started to make their way out.
“Try the pub on the corner first,” the director yelled after crew, before turning to me. “Thanks, Darryl. You did well. We won’t be needing you anymore today."
Marvellous! I was out of the door in a flash to visit some of my friends, and to do some window shopping.
As I walked along the seafront I felt sure that I saw two of the guests driving past me in a BMW. Much too fast, I can remember thinking as they jumped a red light. But then I mused, I could have been mistaken. Well, I had a lovely afternoon out, and when I returned home I discovered three of the lads had already returned, but were busy popping in and out at intervals. I was impressed with how polite they were, and even loaned £20 to one of them as he said he had lost his money in town and would repay me the next day.
Later that evening when the minders had returned, the director caught up with them to reveal that one of the cameras had disappeared from the dinning room. One of them went off with the director to search, first all the rooms and then the yard and back alley. Meanwhile two of the lads returned, quietly trying to make their way upstairs, when the minder talking to me suddenly spotted them and shouted out for them to stop and come back down again.
“Right you two, don’t move! What’s that you've just swallowed?” he asked one of them.
“Nothing guv, honest,” came the reply, with the other one complaining bitterly at the same time about harassment.
“Alright,” said the minder, “we can do this the easy way or the hard way. It’s a strip search of you both here and now, or we can wait for my colleague to return and do a formal search with a police presence.”
The lads agreed to the search now, to get it over with, and as I was about to leave the room the minder turned to me and said, “If you don’t mind, Darryl, I would just like you to stay sitting at the back of the room to observe in the absence of my colleague. If I leave it and wait for him to come back it will give these lads an opportunity to dispose of anything they might have on them.”
“No problem," I said, with a gulp.
It was jolly interesting to see just what a detailed strip search actually involved. With both the lads standing facing the minder, he first got them to turn out their pockets and put all the contents on the dining room table. Thumbing through it, he found nothing untoward so he asked them to take off their shoes and then closely examined the insides of them and under the gap between the soles and the heels. Finding them okay, he dropped them on the floor behind him. Next he carefully ran his hands through their hair, looked behind their ears, in their mouths and felt around their shirt collars and cuffs carefully before asking them to remove their belts and running his hands around the top banding of their jeans.
“Okay, strip and put all your clothing on the floor behind you,” he told them, and without a murmur this is exactly what they did. It was as if they had been through this routine many times, and it seemed their only concern was they just wanted the minder to get on with it so they could go out again.
I could feel myself going quite red as I watched these two fit, well built young men with firm tight buttocks and washboard stomachs take off first their shirts, then their jeans, followed by their underpants and finally their socks. They were altogether not unattractive.
The two lads, now stark naked in front of me, were each then subjected to the minder asking them to pull-up their scrotum and penis so that he could see if anything was attached or stuck out of sight. They then had to turn around and bend over whilst he closely looked in every crevice - interesting tattoos one of them had, quite rude really - and finally they had to put their legs up behind them so that he could look at the soles of their feet and between their toes.
“Nothing this time,” he said, “but I am watching the pair of you like a hawk. You can get dressed now and go. Oh, and thanks for your help, Darryl. Because of that we were able to get it over with quickly.”
“No problem,” I replied, “if you need me again, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
“Purvey bastard.” one of the lads said over his shoulder, then added, “Probably a poof. Good job you were here Darryl or anything might have happened.”
“Yes, yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before, same old record. Just get your clothes on and go, or else you will return to the detention centre tonight,” the minder told them casually.
With that they quickly dressed and left. Now, knowing that all of this would have been recorded on the cameras and would probably end up on the cutting room floor, I made it a mission to check the bins later that night and in the morning, just in case the tape or film had been thrown away. But no such luck. Blast! They never did find the missing camera either - just a few syringes behind the toilet at the top of the stairs. Good, I thought. Perhaps I would be asked to observe some more strip searches.
All seemed to go according to plan for the breakfasts, and every day I just wandered about the town and left them all to it as I had no rooms to do, no shopping, no cooking, and was even getting my lunch and dinner provided by the crew catering van. The only problem I had was that I received no post all week, but on Wednesday there was a delivery of parcels for one of the lads which he eagerly awaited for in the hall, and again on Thursday and Friday. I had been sworn not to tell the minders. The lad told me it was sweets and clothes for all of them and if the officers found out they would be confiscated.
On Thursday, Julian and Tristan came to tell me they had been broken into and their wide-screen TV had been removed from the wall and stolen, as had the video player and the DVD player along with all their porn movies. Shame really, because they said that they could claim for the equipment on their insurance but were unsure about the video collection.
Then later that day I had a visit from a huge guy who spoke with a deep south American accent and reminded me a bit of John Wayne. His diminutive wife was struggling to hang on to a very large black dog that apparently was being trained to sniff for illegal rubbish dumping in the area. He introduced himself as being the neighbourhood watch boss for the area and told me he was investigating the break-in at Julian and Tristan’s, saying he had followed a trail of video tape from their place to the area around my back alley and wanted to know if I had any knowledge of it.
Quite apart from this, it seemed there had been a number of car thefts in the past few days too. He promised, after gathering all the evidence he could find, to follow it up at the police station and get some answers as to who was responsible for bringing this crime-wave onto his territory. They were a very friendly couple, but he was quite insistent that he wanted to “Kick Arse” and get the area cleaned up.
Saturday, and needing some spending money I went to the cash point only to discover I was up to my limit on my card. After a few hasty phone calls to the card offices I was informed that all the withdrawals had been on the new card sent to me on the last Monday. I told them that I had not had any post all week apart from the Parcel Force deliveries for my guests. By then I was beginning to worry a bit, and thought that I should bring it to the attention of the lads' minders. Something told me that all wasn’t quite right.
Returning home, I found there was a police van outside and neighbours were watching from behind their windows, with Cynthia again polishing her railings as a policeman came out with one of the lads in handcuffs and put him in the back of the van. Pushing past the cameraman and other crew filming the whole affair, I entered the dining room to find the two minders angrily castigating the three lads there and questioning them as to the whereabouts of the other two lads. Of course they either didn’t know or were not saying anything, but a search of the rooms gave every indication they had done a runner. All that was left in the room shared by the two missing lads and the one in the back of the police van were 3 bunches of car keys for some very expensive motors.
I informed the police officer there about my card problem, and my suspicions about not having any post other than parcel deliveries, which were in fact for those very two missing lads.
“Well you have been a real Pratt haven’t you, Darryl?" the officer said. "Now you will need to make a statement down at the police station. The guardians of this little circle of misfits will probably be disciplined. It appears they have been spending every day down at the pub.”
Later that night the plain green mini-van that brought them all arrived to take the three remaining lads and the two minders back to the detention centre. What a disaster, I thought, and after all the expense and trouble by the film crew. But no, it wasn't. The director told me that it had been fantastic - even better than he could have hoped for. He assured me that with all the camera evidence of what was going on in the rooms coupled with the police work I should have no problem with getting all my credit card money back, and he was excited about returning next year for the season. The pilot film, he claimed, was going to be milestone in his career.
Thank God, it at last got around to Sunday and the film crew, after busily wrapping up all the equipment, departed leaving only the fixed equipment and lighting remaining ready for the next seasons shoot in earnest. By the afternoon, after the local garage had brought some wheels for the catering van, which had been found standing on bricks that morning - I'm surprised no-one noticed it before, that too was removed.
All in all, it
was not an un-eventful week for me really!
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