The world’s biggest ever con.. On St Patrick’s Day even…

The world’s biggest ever con.. On St Patrick’s Day even…

True confidence tricksters need a mark with value.  How about a bank in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day in 1971?  Well what I’m about to tell you is a scoop, a first, an exclusive, for the world’s biggest con was pulled in Dublin 46 years ago tomorrow.  I’ve kept this secret so long I’m ready to burst but I guess the main parties are all dead now and the statute of limitations must surely have run out.  So here goes, let me first set the scene because it’s important.

Every year on St Patrick’s Day, my mam and dad would bring us into Dublin city centre to watch the grand parade.  It was a spectacular event for us, full of glamour and noise with marching bands coming all the way from places like Chicago and New York, just to participate in our capital’s parade on our special day.  We all loved it.  The day always began with mass.  The girls wore green dresses with green ribbons in their hair and all the adults wore shamrock pinned to their collars.

It was still the middle of lent, so while everyone back then gave up something for lent, I would estimate that 99% of the kids had forsaken sweets for the fasting period and the great thing about March 17, was that we were always allowed a special dispensation so we could crap out.

For the most part the streets were heaving with crowds, so it was always difficult to get a good spot near the front to see the parade.  1971 was different.  To this day and I still don’t know how, my old man wangled his way into one of the buildings along the route.  It was on Westmoreland Street which for those who don’t know Dublin well, is essentially the street that extends from the main street in Dublin called O’Connell Street, so it was right beside the action.  Many business owners along the route, allowed their employees to bring their children in to watch from the upper floor windows.  From there they had the best vantage point for the parade.  What was different about this particular building was that it was a bank and my father had no connection to it.  An insider, who shall remain nameless, agreed to let my dad bring his family in to watch from the first floor window.

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Now my dad was a bit of a chancer.  If you told him your car brakes were dodgy, he could convince you that he was a mechanic and fix them for you, even if he didn’t have a clue.  I’ve seen the man talk his way in and out of more peculiar circumstances than I care to remember.  With that in mind, I shouldn’t have been surprised that he talked his way into the bank.  In fairness it wouldn’t happen today I’m sure but they were different times. Still – he was good.  What happened later is the shocker.

My younger sister had just been born a month earlier, so my mother was staying at home with her that year. As a result it was just my dad, my sister, my brother and little old me tagging along to the parade that day.  It was a glorious day, absolutely perfect parade-day weather so I should have been delighted.  I wasn’t.  I never got to see the parade.  Mam came to my room when I didn’t get out of bed and discovered the pool of puke lying on the floor beside my bed.  She felt my head, cleaned my little face and kissed me, telling me I’d be alright.  Mams work at a special speed when their little ones are not feeling well.  She cleaned up the mess, freshened my bed clothes and changed my Pyjamas, before tucking me back into bed and making me drink some water.  She told my father that I couldn’t go to the parade as I was ill, so off he headed with my siblings, leaving me with my baby sister and my mam.

Having a baby in the house made things difficult for Mam, so she brought me downstairs and tucked me up on the sofa with blankets and pillows and offered me some toys to play with.  It was easier to have both precious babies in the one room.  I told her I was too sick to play and closed my little brown eyes.  As I lay there with Mam fluffing about me like only the mother of a poor sick child does, my father was walking through the doors of the bank on Westmoreland Street holding the hands of my sister and my brother with a broad grin on his face.  No doubt the bank employee was nervous about his indiscretion, maybe my father had something over him, who knows, but I always imagine he would have been sweaty and nervous when I picture him in my mind’s eye.

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Back home I refused to eat until near midday.  My throat was sore.  Mam had made green jelly for the day that was in it and although it was supposed to be for after dinner, what better for a poor, sick little boy who couldn’t eat, than a bowl of green festive jelly and cool, soothing ice-cream.   It was magical.  While my father stood a step back from the small gathering, waving at the noisy parade below from the first floor bank window, I am confident that none of them paid the slightest bit of attention to the smiling family man with his two happy kids in tow. Now here is how the greatest con ever was pulled with I might add, the most valuable return ever!

My sister was fresh to the world, usurping my seven years of baby status in our house.  I needed at least a week off school to pull some of that special ‘Mam’s favorite’ feeling back.  Mam, had sick-ray vision so she would see straight through a fake illness, unless I could do something so outrageous that she’d have to believe me.  I brought a spoon to bed and on St Patrick’s Day morning used it to gag and make myself puke.  I hate puking more than anything else so this was an extreme length for me to go to.  My mother knew I would rather explode than puke so it was the ideal ploy.  The day was so perfect, a balcony view of the parade on a sunny day, there was no way I’d want to miss it, but I did.  Combine this monumental self-denial with my reluctant vomiting and my Mam’s sick-ray vision was rendered useless.  I simply had to be very sick indeed to puke and miss the parade.  Being sick on St Patrick’s Day and not just a normal one, but one where I would have got the best view ever, meant only one thing. Poor little mite had to be very ill.  I would be kept home from school for at least a few days.

Oh yes, while my dad basked in the glory of his achievement in getting a key viewing spot for his kids and while my siblings reveled in the view, I got to get back that special feeling that came with being the baby of the house.  Sure my sister was still going to be there, that I couldn’t do anything about, but for those few hours and days that followed, I pretty much had Mam all to myself again, and that was priceless.  At seven years of age, I had just fooled the greatest expert in the world and secured the most valuable haul of love and cuddles ever.  Oh yes… I was a truly talented tiny baby-faced grifter.  I had conned the best in flamboyant style for the best prize ever. Mam.

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

 

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Twonked in the niddles.. thank God for women on International Women’s Day…

Twonked in the niddles.. thank God for women on International Women’s Day…

When you are seven, catching your winkie in your zipper is not the worst thing in the world.  It hurts like hell, but better to learn that lesson early while you still call it a winkie rather than later on in life, if you catch my drift.   It is definitely one of my most vivid, tear to the eye memories and certainly one of the most embarrassing.  The embarrassment was because while I couldn’t extricate my doodlums from its metal penis fly trap, neither could my mother so she enlisted the assistance and observations of not one, but two other neighbouring mammies.  I’m still mortified just thinking about it.

Tear inducing moments in many forms have caused me grief over the years.  I went arse over face on my racing bike when I was fourteen and I ended up with the brake handle embedded in my stomach. I had to pull about five inches of metal out of my belly which luckily didn’t do any serious damage.  Then there was the time I was walking along the railings that divided our house from the next door neighbour and I did the splits…  A sharp sucking of air between the teeth if you don’t mind…  I say the time, but I repeated that failed stunt so many times, I don’t know how I didn’t castrate myself.

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It is no secret that us boys are most precious about our undercarriage.  Thwacks and wallops’ to the neither regions are always top of the Oooh factor that is for sure.  Playing lots of sports I was twonked in the niddles with a variety of balls of differing shapes and sizes.  I was kneed, kicked and punched in my grimbles, mostly by accident playing sports and even trollied myself in the knackers playing swing ball all by my lonesome.

It has to be a design fault.   You’d think that something that needs taking care of, protecting if you will would be tucked away a little more safely now wouldn’t you.   A dog once leapt up and caught me by the crotch of my trousers.  Luckily it was during a loose-trousered fashion phase and he only got a mouthfull of material.  There was a period in my young life where jeans had to be painted on if you weren’t to look like a twonk, so it could have been much worse.

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Aah 70’s jeans – now there was a challenge for your grollops.   It was hard enough to breathe once you got them zipped up.  They were like a product of the Spanish inquisition I’m telling you.  In fairness they gave the vague impression that I actually had a bit of an arse, which I hadn’t so I thought they were cool and that trumped comfort every time.

As a small chiseller in primary school, I had Nurse Ratchet give my warbles a good fondling as indeed we all did, to see what had or hadn’t dropped.  We were promised a sugar lump (laced with polio vaccine) but in a time when I was grateful for a free bit of sugar, it wasn’t nearly enough that I prostituted myself to a cold, cupped nurse’s hand on a chilly winter’s day without a proper explanation.  I hadn’t a clue what the hell they were doing.

“Drop your trousers” they said and I did. “Bend over” they said and I did.  Then the icy cold hands of the countrified nurse, grabbed me by the goolies and they said “Cough.”  Cough?  I could barely catch my breath!

I’ve cross-barred my gonads and worse.  I have even deep-heated the poor fellas with wintergreen after I had a groin strain playing basketball.  I didn’t understand the effect the topical application of such medication might have and while I wasn’t applying the said ointment to my jewel filled pouch, there was cross contamination due to the proximity of my injury.  Sweet Lord above!  I remember trying to get my whole kit and caboodle into the sink to drown the burn with ice cold water.  Not a pleasant sight I would imagine, but luckily enough it was not a moment for sharing.

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Of course as you get older, you learn to be more careful with your knap sack and perhaps you are not just cautious but more sensible.  Certainly the ‘lesson learned’ thing kicks in, for when you have swing-balled yourself in the cojones once, you tend to remember that it is not something to be repeated.

Boys will be boys of course so as long as there are nads to be knackered, it seems we have to learn lots of specific, impact related lessons, before we stop putting our plums in the firing line.  You’d think once would be enough, given the eye-watering nature of the pain we go through.  But no – we don’t seem to learn all that quickly.  As an overly confident  sex within a supposedly intelligent species, one would think that protecting the very tools required to procreate would mean we would be a little more careful with them.

Of course that’s why we need girls.  Without their wisdom, tolerance and direction, us lads would basically walk off cliffs.  We would be found wandering around in fields full of rakes, stepping on one after the other and wondering what to do next.   We need women to limit our degree of stupid and to guide us so we don’t throw our huevos on the fire the first chance we get.  We can’t depend on our fellow men to help.  How could we?  After all there is nothing funnier as a lad, than  to see another lad scraggle his fraggle and you can’t help your best friend when you are rolling around laughing on the floor.

So while it took me a while to get to it and while discussing the delicacies of the male anatomy may be an odd vehicle to choose to express it, I would just like to say thank you on behalf of my entire sex, to all the women out there on International women’s day.  Long may you continue to keep us honest and protect us from our stupid.   Where in the world would we be without you?

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

Better than MacGyver – Paraffin bees, Knick-Knack and skint knees…

Better than MacGyver – Paraffin bees, Knick-Knack and skint knees…

Catching bees was a strangely enjoyable pastime for a boy who was terrified of the little beggars. We were smart enough not to catch wasps, a lesson no doubt learned by countless generations before us, but bees were fair game.  You never see kids doing stuff like that these days.

Jam jars were the cage of choice and flowering clover was always placed at the bottom of the jar, as if we were somehow being kinder by supplying something a distraction for the poor creatures.  I must have caught dozens of bees in the summer and we always set them free.  We possessed the beauty and unpredictable danger that came with being the free-spirited wildlings that we were.   Free to roam to a large extent, tree-climbing, nettle-stung, self-repairing, not going in until it gets dark playing little creatures of the streets, we were easy to please and full of imagination.

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We had very little. Toys were for Christmas and by summertime, play involved whatever you could find in the house or back garden and you had to improvise.  I was like a mini-MacGyver. We made bows and arrows, go-carts, crossbows and entire horse jumping courses from any auld bit of discarded junk and sometimes from your mother’s best kitchen utensils – until she found out and you pleaded innocence or blamed it on your sister – but that never worked.

We did our fair share of damage in the process, broken windows, skint knees, soaked clothing, all sorts really.  You name it, we broke it.  I once fired a nail through my friend’s leg, absolute accident, but we patched him up so his old dear wouldn’t notice and ban him from playing with us for a week.  Those were the risks and we all understood them.  Once we engaged on a dangerous mission, we knew we had to take the chance that we’d be caught in the act and kept in for a few days as punishment.  Nothing could be worse than being deprived of that freedom.

But that was just the point.  Our lives were full of danger and risk.  Nothing usually too life threatening, but we learned not to be risk averse.  We had a shed at the back of our house and you could climb onto its flat, ten foot high roof via the adjoining wall.   We would lie up there in the sunshine of our childhood summer, out of sight of the prying eyes of our parents and conjure up things to keep us busy, the riskier the better.   We had adventures to create, castles to storm and they were no good if they didn’t feel real.

One game involved standing on the top, but at the back of the shed and running it’s length to leap into thin air at full tilt.  We would see how far we could jump and the ten foot drop was nothing.  We competed to see who could not just jump from that height, that was easy!  It was how far away we could land from the shed that decided the winner.   I doubt if I would jump off that height from a sitting position today. We could waste a couple of hours in such competitions, marking out the landing spot with great precision and making sure everything was fair.  We created rules and re-wrote them as we went along.

I once set fire to a huge hedge at the end of our garden trying to smoke out a bee hive to see if we could find honey.  That was me grounded for- I can’t even remember how long.  I was in trouble for that one on all sorts of levels.  There was the burning of the hedge, the “you could have set the house on fire.”  There was the “you used what? – paraffin!” Not to mention the fact that I shouldn’t have been playing with matches in the first place, let alone the crime of smoking out a bee hive and ruining my clothes…I was lucky not to be locked indoors for the whole summer.

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Boys fought boys.  We just did.  We formed swarms and had make-shift battles and they sometimes resulted in a bloody nose or two.  They were harmless enough but I steered clear of such things pretty much.  Even so, sometimes innocent versions resulted in accidental black eyes.  Some kid or other always seemed to have a black eye in those days.   We swung from ropes on poles, walked rickety fences that eventually we did the splits on and ran the gauntlet of leashless, vicious dogs.  There were orchards to be robbed, not me I was a good boy, doors to be knick-knacked and dares to be accepted. Every waking moment was an adventure in the summer, or at least one in planning.

Night always came too fast and dinner was a hindrance.  Eventually, the summer would end and we’d all go back to school to face the real dangers of older, tougher boys, slaps from the masters and if you didn’t have your wits about you, the unspoken but understood, ever present threat from at least one of the Christian Brothers.

Somehow we survived and looking back, the one thing I guess I miss most about those days is the spirit of my youth.   I’ll never be that carefree again no matter how much I might romanticise myself to be now.   But the memory of it is special and the lessons learned have stayed with me, good and bad and I think they have stood me well throughout the years.

I didn’t just jump off that shed though.  Often I was alone there and it was in my solitude that I discovered the joy of books.  I would lie in the sun, soaking up the warmth from above and the joy of my books.  I owe much to the length of rope I was given.  My freedom to explore the inner reaches of my imagination is perhaps the thing that led me to write books.  That wild, carefree pony boy I often recall, is someone I call upon when it’s time to put my stories to the page.  He helps me remember not to be afraid to let go and to allow my imagination to take flight.  Long may I find him in my heart.

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

fhttp://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

IASD - globe 2

Universal book links

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood

http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II

http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy

http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn

http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood