What Lies Beneath

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A quiet village in a sleepy part of England is not the place one would expect a lot of gangland activity.   Yet being close to Manchester and in an area renowned for its A list of celebrity residents, maybe is isn’t so surprising that rich mob heads and their molls chose to live amongst football players, actors and TV personalities.  In houses surrounded by acres of land, enough to house a racing stable or two, families live their secret lives behind security systems that rival Fort Knox.  Except for my friend, that is, the youngest son of an ex mobster, who’d chosen to turn his back on the family business and try earn an honest living that didn’t involve extortion, drugs, prostitution, stealing or gun running.  He chose a trade that, ironically, often had dealings with the underworld i.e. scrap.   So determined was he to make it on his own that in the lean weeks when he first started he lost his rented accommodation, slept in his van, washed in our local pub and relied on friends to help him out with food and a place to crash when desperation set in or the nights turned freezing.   With a lot of hard work and hardship the business expanded, started to make a profit and he had cash to flash.  Unfortunately for him, the business started to compete with the not so above board ones in the area and the head muscleman of the village, after failing to recruit him, decided to send a message by way of a couple of broken headlights and a shattered windscreen.   His dad, now retired, had used up any favours owed trying to get a contract removed from the head of his other son. Who was holed up in the bull-ring in Manchester (even the police didn’t dare to go in there), too scared to come out.  So even if my friend had been on speaking terms with his father he would’ve been on his own.   

It was through my friend I learnt that the quiet village  I thought I’d moved to had a hierarchy of criminals residing there managing small time crime in the area for the Manchester gangs.  Obviously I had a rose tinted view of village life.   I lived in the community for a number of years and in that time the criminal element was never obvious.  But then, as the old saying goes, you don’t shit on your own doorstep.      

So when you travel to England and are charmed by pretty country villages complete with quaint houses, cricket grounds, oldie world hostelries and tea houses just remember that superficiality can be deceptive and what lies beneath may be a lot more sinister.

7 thoughts on “What Lies Beneath

  1. as a wannabe traveler – its always go to be made aware of these sorts of things. its a lil’ sad to me that the underworld can do that to a place but it is everywhere unfortunately. i did want to thank you for stopping by my humble lil’ blog! :) i feel quite privileged to know you’ve visited. i’ll be sure to stop by here again – i enjoy what i’ve read so far (the sleep walking post was hilarious! – oh the joys of having roommates haha).

  2. I guess you can never really get away from crime, no matter where you go. Even the smallest, quietest towns have it, you just have to be a little wary and keep to your side of the street, I suppose.

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. Not far off… Much the same applies, though. Did you get down to West Sussex, Kent, North Essex, Gloucestershire, or Devon? Some exquisite little places there, and I dare say some exquisite scandals, too… I love village life. I’ve moved from urban England to remote rural Romania, but village life is just the same, if nto a bit less subtle. Hermann, who’s a Romanian Saxon, married to a German German, is still (after 800 years) considered a foreigner. I am not only foreign, but an unmarried middle-aged woman, which is really bizarre. Until they discovered I was a writer, when all became clear – for a writer, the weirder the better.
    What sort of remarks and attitudes did you encounter in remote places?

  4. Sounds like Alderley Edge to me… I wouldn’t call that either pretty or a village. It’s a dormitory townette for the people you describe you make a lot of money in Manchester, mostly. What I think of as an English village (having lived in quite a few), is a small community, most of which has lived in the village for generations – usually relying on the land for a living, one way or another – with a smattering of incomers; in a hard-core village. It can take 300 years or so for a family to be thought local and no longer foreign (or “from off”) as they say in some parts. There may be longstanding families in Alderley, but they are overwhelmed by the footie players, aging rockers, bankers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, tycoons and – as you rightly say – gangsters and criminals. You will find far more beautiful and charming villages in other parts of England, but however distant from the big cities, far more goes on behind closed doors than will ever be obvious to the visitor. May I refer you to Midsomer Murders…

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