Archive for July, 2012

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 23

July 14, 2012

CHAPTER 23

The story ends with an unexpected visitor

    “We’ll roll this one down as soon as the boat comes through the tunnel,” panted Titch. The boat came nearer and nearer as the boys waited tensely.

Suddenly a voice shouted out, “All right, you men, the game’s up!” At the sound of the voice both boys grabbed the rock and stared at each other with open mouths.

“That sounds like old ‘Fungus!” gasped Titch as they hesitated to release their missile. Hardly had he spoken the words when the boat carrying ‘Fungus’ in person and his companions emerged from the tunnel. The boat was quickly steered into the centre of the pool where the three bedraggled men were taken dripping out of the water. When the boat reached a slightly lower part of the ledge it ran partly onto it as by now the water at that point was just lapping the top.

As they got out of the boat ‘Fungus’ beamed at the boys who could hardly believe their eyes. “I gather you five are responsible for ducking these characters,” he said indicating the three soaked and shivering men.

“Yes sir,” grinned Titch.

‘Fungus’ turned and looked in the direction of the tunnel. “I rather fancy it was a good thing I shouted,” he said, stroking his long moustache. “Otherwise we might have been rather damp by now eh?”

Everyone, except the three men, laughed at this. “We thought it was the other three men returning sir,” explained Bunny.

“Yes, I gathered as much,” laughed ‘Fungus’. “We just used their boat. I expect they are safely in a police cell at Pontyrabad by now.”

“How did you boys get in here and how do we get out?” asked old Benny.

“There’s a door behind those packing cases,” explained Titch. “He closed it,” he said pointing an accusing finger at the boss of the gang.

When they reached the closed rock door ‘Fungus’ turned and noticed the thin streams of wter now running onto the ledge. “So it was the intention of these men to leave you boys here to drown,” he said.

“Yes sir,” replied Gogs emphatically giving Mason a withering look, but noticing with considerable satisfaction the large red mark down the middle of his forehead.

‘Fungus’ seemed really annoyed at this. “That’ll make interesting evidence at the trial,” he snapped. Then grabbing the boss of the gang by the arm, he pushed him unceremoniously in the direction of the door. “Open it!” he yelled.

Without a word the man took hold of part of the moulding at the side of the arch. He pulled it sideways and instantly the door rumbled back.

“Oh no!” muttered Titch. “And we dimwits were pushing and hammering for all we were worth.”

When they were out in the ruins again the police sergeant and several constables were waiting. They all walked over to the Straight Mile where there were two cars and a van waiting.

Mr Leyshon told the boys to get into his car. “It’s getting late. I’ll drive you boys home. Your parents might be getting a bit worried. But er . . . I’ll be seeing you later.”

*     *     *     *     *

   The following Monday evening the boys met again in their secret headquarters. Bunny, who had spent well over an hour the previous day writing in their book of evidence, had just finished reading it to the others.

“Cool Bunny!” exclaimed Miff, “No wonder you came third last term.”

“Have I missed anything out?” asked Bunny modestly.

“I don’t think so,” replied Titch. “I think you’ve made a really good job of that.”

“Me too Chief!” agreed Gogs heartily.

“Well, that’s completed our evidence all right,” stated Titch, “but I don’t think the mystery is quite solved yet.”

“That’s what I’ve been thinking,” chimed in Bunny. “What was in those parcels for instance?”

“And how did ‘Fungus’ get mixed up in it?” asked Smudgie.

“That’s as much a mystery as anything,” said Miff. “He said he’d see us later, but he wasn’t in school today.”

“What really puzzles me more than anything,” said Titch thoughtfully, “is why would anyone want to make a tunnel from the Abbey up to the old shell house and from the shell house up to the tower. What’s the point? It would be quicker to walk up the pathway to both those places.”

Bunny opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again as he heard footsteps on the concrete path at the side of the shed. “I can hear someone coming,” he said. “Perhaps my Dad wants me.”

The footsteps stopped and, for a moment, there was silence. Then, to the utter astonishment of the boys, someone gave their secret knock on the trapdoor above. They all stared at each other open-mouthed and remained motionless. The knock, their secret knock without any doubt, was repeated.

“That’s funny,” whispered Titch, “We’re the only ones who know our secret knock. I wonder who it can be?”

Gogs moved into his job as the duly appointed doorkeeper. “Wh. . .Wh . . .Who’s there?” he cried tremulously, and, to the great astonishment of all five, a squeaky voice replied, “Cavalier.”

“Gosh!” gasped Titch. “Our password.”

“Who can it be?” asked Bunny.

“Well, it’s someone who knows our secret knock and password,” stated Titch. “We’d better find out.” The boys crowded to the edge of the passage as Gogs let down the trapdoor. A figure walked down into their room and the boys had a third shock.

“Fung . . . er . . . I mean Mr Leyshon!” Gogs stammered. The others just stared.

“I hope you young gentlemen don’t mind me barging into your secret headquarters like this,” he said as he ducked down to avoid hitting his head on the shed floor above, finally sitting down on one of the old boxes.

“N. . .N. . . No, of course not,” replied Bunny in as natural a voice as he could muster under the circumstances.

“I expect you’re a bit surprised to see me drop in on you like this eh?”

“Well, we . .er . . .” began Titch.

“Yes, I thought you would be,” broke in ‘Fungus’, with a broad grin showing beneath his dark moustache. “But I’ve been to see all your parents and I’ve just had a chat with your father, Bernard, so I’m not tresspassing. The truth of the matter is I thought you might have one or two little questions you’d like to ask me.” He had a twinkle in his eye which showed them he knew they were absolutely bursting with questions.

“First of all,” he continued when the boys were all seated around him, “perhaps I should tell you that I am really detective-inspector Leyshon. It’s true that I’ve taught at your school for some little while now. As a matter of fact I was a history teacher at a school in London before I joined the police force, so when I was asked to investigate this case at Pontyrabad, I thought the best way to come into a small town of this sort without arousing suspicion, was to get a job here. As it happens, your headmaster and I used to teach at the same school in London. Jolly good sort, you know, and when I told him my story in confidence he said he’d see what he could do for me. As they were short staffed at the school it was agreed that I could help out.”

“In preparation for taking on this investigation I studied the history of Pontyrabad and some of the town’s historic buildings, and I really suspected the old abbey ruins from the moment I had my first look around the town. That’s why I rented the flat on Common Crescent so that I could keep a good lookout in that direction. I’ve been working very closely with Benny the coastguard, and when I saw you going into the ruins on Saturday evening and then later receiving his phone call I was a bit worried about your whereabouts.”

“But it was fortunate for you that Benny saw those parcels bobbing about on the water, otherwise we might never have found you. That’s a bit of a mystery you know. Somehow or other a few of the strings on some of the parcels had almost been severed by some sharp instrument with the result that the weights dropped off. Possibly a piece of sharp rock or . . .”

Here the boys laughed as Titch proudly held up the sharp instrument – his penknife. “I was the culprit who cut the strings sir,” he said smiling broadly. It was now ‘Fungus’s’ turn to look surprised.

“By Jove! Was it really?” And after Titch had related his whole story, ‘Fungus’ was full of congratulations for his smart deductions. “Well done Roger!” he said. “My word, we could do with a chap like you in the Force.”

“What were those men doing at the ruins, sir?” asked Titch.

“And what was in the parcels please?” asked Gogs.

“Oh yes,” ‘Fungus’ continued. “They were drug producers and smugglers. I often refer to them as ‘kid killers’. They wrapped the packets of drugs in old barrage balloon material which is tough and waterproof and then towed them out to a French yacht waiting a little way off the coast. If they were stopped and searched, as they were on a few occasions, nothing was found on either of the boats. But unfortunately for the gang the floating packets shone in the moonlight. Benny saw them and immediately phoned me.”

Titch smiled at this and then asked,”What I can’t understand Mr Leyshon, is why would anybody want to make a tunnel to walk up to the old shell house and from there up to the old tower? And who made the tunnel?”

“Ah, now that’s something that your discovery of the secret tunnel helped us to solve,” said ‘Fungus’. “They didn’t use the tunnel to go up to the old tower, they used it to go down from the tower to the abbey.”

“But why?” queried Titch.

“I believe you are slightly acquainted with the French artist, Louis, who lives on Common Crescent.”

“Yes, we often see him around with his bag and easel.”

“Quite! But the bag had nothing to do with painting. It was stuffed with packets of drugs – cannabis. To try to put anyone watching him off the scent he used to carry the drugs up to the tower and then use the secret tunnel to carry them down to the shell house where he stored them inside the hollow trees which support the roof. They knew no-one would find them there, and when their hiding place was full the gang would carry them down the tunnel to the abbey and out to the waiting yacht.”

“Crafty devils!” observed Bunny. “But where did Louis get the drugs from?”

“Well, as you know he lives with his wife in a house on Common Crescent. After we arrested him we raided their house and discovered that they had converted two of the rooms and the whole of the loft into a cannabis growing factory. These drug gangs often do this. They choose a large house in a respectable area of a small town which is not often visited by the police and convert it for their use.”

“And did the smugglers build the tunnels?” asked Titch.

“Not these smugglers,” answered ‘Fungus’. “They were built many years ago by rum smugglers who used them to carry the rum from the coast up to the top of the hill where it was safer to sell it. When the customs men kept watch on the coast they found nothing stored in the caves. All the contraband had been taken up into the tunnels.”

“I see,” said Titch. “Now I get the whole picture.”

‘Fungus’ looked at his watch. “Well, if there’s nothing else you want to ask, I must be off. I have a long report to write out for my chief.”

“Would you like to borrow our book of evidence sir?” asked Bunny. “All our side of the story is in there.”

‘Fungus’ paused. “Oh, so you’ve been investigating those crooks properly have you? I’d be very much obliged if I could borrow your book. It might help me with my report.” Bunny handed him the book which he slipped into his pocket.

“You boys will be needed to give evidence of course,” he said. “But, somehow, I don’t think you’ll mind – it will mean time off from school.”

“Cool!” exclaimed Smudgie and Miff in unison.

‘Fungus’ laughed as he rose to his feet and made his way towards the passage leading up to the trap door. Titch also got to his feet. “Oh, there’s just one extra question I’d like to ask sir before you go. How did you know our secret knock and password?”

“Ah, yes,” ‘Fungus’ replied, half turning to face the boys. “You know you really shouldn’t leave top secret documents like this lying about in history exercise books. Cheerio!” As he went he dropped a piece of paper which floated down onto Titch’s desk. He grabbed it and unfolded it. The other four looked over his shoulder. On the paper were their secret knock, password and all their rules. On top of the paper was the name “Gordon Palfrey”. Immediately the others turned to Gogs.

“Gogs! You idiot!” they chorused. Then they pounced on him as poor Gogs tried to stammer out some sort of an explanation. They rolled on the floor on top of him and pandemonium reigned in the secret headquarters of the Pontyrabad Secret Society.


The boys pounced on Gogs

For Pontypool people who have concerns about their local community

July 10, 2012

A BLOG POST WITH A DIFFERENCE

Visitors to this blog come from 55 different countries. I imagine that they are either people who have lived in Pontypool and have emigrated to other countries or people living in other countries whose ancestors used to live in Pontypool. Just yesterday and the previous day I had over 900 hits on the blog from the USA alone. Quite a number of visitors, of course, are still living in Pontypool and the surrounding areas. For this reason I try to post information about events big and small that have happened in Pontypool in past times. This posting, however, is an exception to that general aim.

Today I came across news about recent government legislation which might be of interest to people in Pontypool who have concerns about certain aspects of the town and the way certain things are organised and run. The other information is aimed at encouraging people to join in all sorts of sporting activities in their local area.

Here is the information about the legislation; I hope it will be of help. You will notice a number of links to other sites from which you can get further information concerning anything which interests you.

£30 million for communities taking over valued services and assets – Localism Act – Community Rights:

Community groups wanting to bid to run local services or buy their local shop, library or pub will benefit from more than £30 million of new specialist support.

Community Right to Bid – Under the £19 million Community Ownership of Assets programme communities wanting to take control of a much loved local asset will have access to support they need through each stage of the process from forming a group through to preparing and submitting a bid. The programme will also help communities use the Community Right to Bid when it comes into force this autumn.  For more information see  – http://communityrights.communities.gov.uk/what-are-community-rights/community-right-to-bid

Community Right to Challenge – Under the £11.5 million Community Right to Challenge programme – which became law on 27 June 2012  – communities with good ideas for how they can run local public services and want to use the Community Right to Challenge can access advice and support to develop their skills to be able to bid for and run excellent local services.  For more information see – http://communityrights.communities.gov.uk/community-right-to-challenge-comes-into-force .  The statutory guidance is available at – http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/righttochallengestatguide or pdf at – http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/2168126.pdf

More communities will be able to bid to take over local services they think they can run differently and better now the Community Right to Challenge comes into effect.  The Community Right to Challenge hands more power back to communities, allowing voluntary and community groups, parish councils and local authority staff to express an interest in taking over the running of local authority services, making services more responsive to local needs and delivering better value for money.

Specialist support is now in place to help community groups wanting to take greater control of their community through every stage of the process – from setting up a group and developing a proposal right through to the delivering services on the ground.  The Social Investment Business, in partnership with Locality and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations will deliver a 3-year support programme worth £11.5 million. The programme will include a dedicated advice phone line where support and information will be available. It will also include grants to help groups to use the new right and bid to run local public services, resources, and case studies.

For more information also see the Department of Communities and Local Government website – http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/2175120 and http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/2168302.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Join in Local Sport – www.joininuk.org 

On 18/19 August, Join in Local Sport will encourage the nation to head down to where is starts for every great champion – their local sports club. The aim of Join in is for every sports club in the UK to put on a special event or activity on the weekend of 18/19 August (the first weekend after the Olympics and before the Paralympics) – capturing the enthusiasm for sport that the Games will generate.

For more information please see attached, and the Join in website – www.joininuk.org –  we would be grateful if you could highlight Join in on your website / to your members and distribute information about Join in to local sports organisations and community organisations.

Eddie Izzard talks about Join in on You Tube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHOalt__woM

Find out more at http://joininuk.org or follow us at @joininuk.

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 22

July 7, 2012

CHAPTER 22

Wrecking the boats

    “What?” asked Gogs anxiously.

“Well, as I told you, when I was hiding behind those packing cases I almost cut through the strings on some of the parcels. When they started towing them out to sea the strings might have broken. It might have upset their plans a bit.”

“Good old Titch!” exclaimed Miff.

“Of course,” said Titch, “it might be someone else, but if those men are coming back we must prepare a reception for them.”

“What do you mean?” asked Gogs, his spirit reviving.

“Well, we can’t just let them come in and get away. Somehow or other we’ve got to wreck their boat and throw them into the water. Then we’ll keep them there until they tell us how to open that door.”

“But how can we do that?” queried Smudgie.

“Come here, quick,” said Titch in his most confidential voice. “They’ll be several minutes coming up the tunnel.”

“That won’t give us much time,” said Bunny anxiously.

“Enough to put my plan into action,” replied Titch. “Notice that this ledge goes right around the cave and ends on each side of the tunnel. Now, if some of us stand on each side, we can make  two chutes out of the corners of those packing cases and roll some of these heavy rocks down onto the boat. That should wreck it and throw them into the water. Then, if we keep a few of these long pieces of wood off the packing cases handy we can push the men back into the water if they try to get out.”

“Cool plan!” Miff exclaimed.

Titch rapped out his orders as the popping of the boat increased. “Bunny and Smudgie, go round to the left of the tunnel. We three will go to the right. Now, let’s break a few of these packing cases up to get some wood. Where’s your little axe Bunny?”

They each gathered some wide corner strips of wood and ran round to the entrance of the tunnel. Soon they were assembled on each side of the dark opening.

“Now put the pieces of wood end to end so that they slope down towards the opening,” said Titch.

By using some large stones which were lying about, the two chutes were soon arranged in place.

“I’ve got an idea too,” said Bunny. “Let’s wedge one of those thick logs just below the water where the entrance narrows. When they hit it that’s certain to give them a bit of a jolt.”

“Excellent idea!” cried Titch. “Come on Gogs, there’s a log near us.”

They left Miff holding the chute in place while they lifted the log and threw it into the water with a splash. By pushing and banging with the heavier strips of wood the log was finally wedged just below the water line.

By this time the noise of the boat was quite loud. “They can’t be far away now,” exclaimed Titch. “Let’s hold those rocks on the chutes.” They puffed and panted as they hauled the heavy rocks into place ready to roll. “You hold it in position,” he said to Miff and Gogs. Then shouting to Smudgie and Bunny, “You O.K. over there?”

They were. “Good. Now I’ll lean down a bit to get a good look down the tunnel. As soon as I see the boat, I’ll give the signal. Then you let them have it.”

The noise of the boat grew really loud and echoed as it neared the end of the tunnel. “Can’t be far now,” whispered Titch. Then he saw the shadowy shape of the boat some ten metres down the tunnel. Titch, from his point of vantage, could see the faces of the three men.

As the boat started to emerge from the tunnel it hit the submerged log. It bounced upwards and sideways. There was a loud crack as the timber splintered on the rock.

“Now!” yelled Titch, and before the boat could settle on the water again the two rocks crashed into it. The larger one tore a hole in the side of the boat right down to the water line. The boss of the gang and Lefty were thrown into the water by the impact. Mason, seeing the water gushing into the boat, stood up to try to jump onto the ledge, but a timely push in the small of his back by Bunny’s strip of wood sent him, with a cry of pain, to join his companions.

On surfacing, the three men swam to the side of the pool. Lefty put his hands on the ledge to haul himself out but withdrew them with an anguished cry as Titch brought down his strip of wood, with considerable force, right across his outstretched hands.

Mason, realising that the boys intended to prevent them getting out of the water, started swimming in desperation towards the other side of the pool. Noticing the move Miff shouted, “Gogs! Look! Run round and stop him” Gogs’ lanky legs took him to the other side in great bounds, his long hair flapping wildly as he went. Mason, on the other hand, was greatly hampered by the weight of his wet clothes.

When Gogs arrived, the man had started to haul himself onto the ledge, but, with great presence of mind for one normally slow on the uptake, he placed the sole of his very large foot on Mason’s forehead and pushed hard. He shot back so quickly that it was only by a few centimetres that Gogs avoided joining him in the cold water.

The men threatened and shouted as they thrashed abut in the water. Several times they swam to different parts of the ledge but each time a boy was there to prod them back in. Soon the three gathered in the centre of the pool hanging onto the log which, having been moved by the impact of the boat, now floated about.

Because of the shouts and the great noise of the splashing, the second boat, carrying ‘Fungus’ and his companions, was a considerable way up the tunnel before it was heard by Miff who was nearest to the tunnel entrance.

“Titch! Titch! The other boat is coming up now,” he cried.

Titch went running back to the tunnel entrance shouting an order as he went. “You three see they don’t get out. We’ll deal with the other three when they arrive.”

He panted up to Miff. “Come on, help me to get another rock ready on this chute. We’ll have to throw the other three into the water as well.” A good sized rock was heaved ready and waiting onto the end of the planks.