It was the 80’s. Big shoulders, lots of cash, big deals and a crime wave that made a lot of criminals rich.
Living on the Elmington Estate, I grew up knowing a group of boys who had the casual look. This resulted in wearing Armani Chords, Pringle Jumpers, Sergio Tacchini and a Fila Tracksuits.
However, they were robbers and burglars, who had no fear to steal money and pay for their lifestyles. They often came to my old man to help sell their goods. Despite knowing he would pull a fast one to pocket more than he said he would take, they still came to him because of his ability to quickly sell goods through his criminal connections across London.
One day, my Dad got a cabinet from one of the boys and decided to keep it for himself, even though local horse and cart man John Kirby pleaded with him to let him buy it. When the cabinet got delivered, my Dad gave the boys a few hundred quid and was left with this big grin on his face for weeks. Until Bings Carter came round and eyed up the cabinet with a desire to have it for himself.
Bings had Blonde and Ginger curly gelled back hair, with a look that suggested he didn’t take much notice of his appearance. Nonetheless, I remember him taking out this big wad of money to lure my Dad to sell it. When my Dad refused the first offer, he said: “I bet if Kirby offered you that, you would bite his hand off, Quin”. My Dad choked with laughter and then replied: “He’s the one that’s buying it and he’s paying a lot more than what you are offering”.
Bings walked back over to the cabinet, hugged it and gave it a kiss. Declaring his love and his desire to have it in his home. He then looked up to the ceiling and shouted: “I HATE KIRBY”. Then he went on to tell my Dad about how he sold Kirby a couple of chests of drawers that were worth a lot more than he sold them for, and was conned. My Dad didn’t show any empathy but Bings was clearly angry, clenching his fists and breathing heavy.
All of a sudden, the steps could be heard with feet running down them and when they stopped, a head popped around the doorframe and it was my Mother querying the noise. Bings turned round to my Mother and went over to greet her with a hug. He then started to explain to her that he loved the cabinet and wanted to spite Kirby by buying it. Playing on my Mother’s heartstrings and gaining her sympathy, she became in favour of Bings having the cabinet. Then said “Give more money and you can get it” The eyes of Bings slit and as he backed away from my Mother he shook his head in surprise.
My Dad sat up from lying down on the Sofa and said, “Come on then, how much you want it?” Bings kneeled down slowly, licked his fingers and began putting down the notes on the table. My Dad watched every note until I heard a grunt from Mother who then made her way back up the stairs.
Eventually, Bings gave my Dad the money he thought was good enough to take the cabinet. When Bings got up, he kissed the cabinet and told my Dad that he will not be long. My mum came down the stairs and put her hand out, for which my Dad graced her palms with a few notes.
A couple of hours later, Bings returned with some help to move the cabinet, and a van. Bings gave directions to escort the cabinet out and the delight was obvious. He bought the Cabinet he loved and had one over Kirby, who he believed wanted it.
Eventually, the cabinet reached the Van without a scratch. It was laid flat on its back for Bings to not have a worry in the world. I stood with my Dad downstairs to see Bings off, who by now was brimming with delight and joy. He skipped into the van, shut the door and leaned over to shake my Dad’s hand. The van did a three-point turn and it was possible to hear the cabinet sliding about.
As the van drove off, my Dad and I watched it go up the round Lomound Grove, in the direction of where Kirby lived. Then, all of a sudden, it reached the bend and as it turned the cabinet slid out the back and smashed on the ground. We watched the Van stop and saw them all get out. Then watched Bings drop to his knees, look up at the sky and shout “I HATE KIRBY”.
My Dad wanted to pretend he didn’t see it, to avoid any embarrassment for Bings. So he guided me towards the stairs to go inside. When we stepped in, my Mum came down to the front room “Why was Bings still shouting he hates Kirby?”. My Dad burst out laughing and told me to explain what happened, as he counted through his money again from what he used to call a ‘quick earner’.