What can possibly go wrong (Part 24)

Martin & Mandy

Published VersionWhat can possibly go wrong? That's a phrase I use all the time when I'm walking round the office. An American friend of mine who goes desert racing has that written in big characters on the side of his race truck and it's served him well over they years, though I have to say quite a lot has gone wrong for him while racing one way or another, but then you expect that.

What can possibly go wrong at Layston church - people breaking in to vandalise the place is what can go wrong, and over the past month for some odd reason we have had three break-in's. The first time somebody decided that taking one of the panels down on the perimeter hoarding was a good idea, once they were in they had a look round and decided that actually there was nothing there worth stealing, so they broke every single window on both of the diggers - a completely mindless act that achieves nothing at all other than to waste Published Version£1500 replacing the glass. Peter the builder was none too pleased about the whole situation - it's hard enough running a business and employing people in these difficult times without having these additional problems to deal with. Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining and so does this one. In their haste to destroy windows with bricks one of the people managed to cut themselves reasonably badly and left blood all over the larger of the diggers. The Scene of Crimes officer was most excited about that one 'Don't worry' he says 'they will either be on record already, or will end up on record, so, as they have left behind their DNA, we will get them in the end'.

In general that episode wasted £1500 and a morning of my life, along with the time of three Police officers and a couple of builders. The hoarding got strengthened and we all moved on.

Blow me down if 5 days later we have another break in - this time at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, pretty much just as the builders had left for the day! But now the hoarding is harder to remove so over the top of the fence they come on the eastern part of the hoarding, and this time the bell tower is what they are after. Now this is a bit stupid as well - back in 1963 somebody decided that stealing two of the bells was a good idea - as scrap they are worth four to five thousand each - so practically the first thing we did when we actually owned the keys was to get Whitechapel Bell Foundry in to remove them for safe keeping. So, if you want to steal the bells you need to break into their yard which has so much security attached to it that it makes the bank of England look like a corner shop with it's door open and the owner asleep! Anyway this does not deter them and they decide to try and pick the lock on the gate at the bottom of the tower, leaving finger prints all over the lock as they try to pick it with a piece of wire. Scene of crimes officer (a different one to the previous week) is rolling on the floor laughing now and we add the prints to our collection. They fail to get past the lock which makes me feel good, as this means they don't manage to get into the tower, which is basically full of very fragile and rotten floor boards that with a little bit of weight will give way - this would have meant that I would have been calling an Ambulance rather than the Police! So another morning is taken up with conversations with Police and such, but we push on.

Three or four days go by and I get a call on a Sunday morning - yep you guessed it - everything always happens in threes. It seems four likely lads tried breaking into the hoarding at ten o'clock at night to go 'Ghost hunting' apparently. This time a rather helpful dog walker has called the Police and they have turned up double quick and collected these four jokers before they managed to break in.

Published Version

So firstly a huge thank you to the dog walker with the mobile phone for calling 999whensomething suspicious was going on - secondly amassive thank you to the Police in general for persisting in helping out with visitsand now regularly, but randomly, driving up to the church and nosing around. If you see something suspicious going on which basically comes down to somebody trying to break in, please dial 999 and report it - the Police will respond and help us stop the mindless damage that's being done to the site. If you have recently cut yourself and dripped blood onto a JCB inside the compound then you might like to consider calling in at Buntingford police station for a chat about the evening and how you can avoid getting a criminal record.

One side effect of this last month is that I'm not going to fit the windows to the garage until we move in, so I'm afraid that the almost complete garage is going to remain looking just like that for a good while - once the windows are complete I'll post some pictures of them onto the web site, but it's a great shame it's not possible to complete the 1st phase of the restoration due to bits of mindless activity performed by an incredibly small and selfish section of the community. Rant over - back to normal next month!