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Newsflash: A man who's house had been broken into for the fifth time refused to let the police put a watch on the premises. He said that if they did, it would only encourage the burglar to come back and steal that as well.

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Telephone tents

There's two tents pitched on the pavement just up the road from us. They're those little red and white ones that telephone companies put up to protect the engineers from the elements when they're carrying out repair work. Nothing unusual about that you might say. They're always carrying out repair work. Normally I'd agree except that these ones have been there for months just about blocking the footpath.

Cause for concern. It's not that that's worrying though. The thing is that lots of men go into the tents but no one ever seems to come out! It's possible that I am just not around when they come out. Nonetheless, it seems fair to say that anyone who passes the end of our road as much as I do should see somebody come out of the tents sometimes. Pretty spooky eh?

When we first realised that they had been around for an unusually long time, I thought that maybe some poor chap had been unhappy at home and had been forced to take up residence. Perhaps one tent was  a bedroom with an 'en suite' hole in the ground for toilet facilities. The other being a kitchen for a fry-up and and a place to make a cup of tea. We discounted this because we never heard any noise from the inside such as a T.V, a radio or the fizz of beer cans etc.

The mystery vans. There are usually two large telephone company vans parked at the scene during the day. There is a sad lack of activity going on in, or around, them. You might be of the opinion that this is also what one might expect. However, it does seem like the 'Marie Celeste' of the telephone work site most of the time.

Stupid thoughts. Could it be that these are not work tents at all but the entrance to a vast secret underground tunnel system run by extremists dedicated to the overthrow of the Borough Council. Probably not. They'd use a double-stacked Portacabin.

Maybe it's the entrance to the to the underworld. The next time I'm walking by and perhaps hear scratchy scraping noises from inside I'm going to poke my head in and ask if he's the gatekeeper. Maybe the occupant would say 'ZOOOL' in a deep throaty voice with smoke coming out of his ears. Maybe I watch too much television.

Getting real again. We made the usual assumption people make about strange goings on around holes in the ground. It could be a government nuclear attack shelter. I resolved that, should any warning of such an attack come to our ears, I would run up the road with the wheelchair, tip my wife through the entrance and jump in after her before they had a chance to slam the door shut. This would ensure our continued existence at the cheap price of only a few broken bones.

In the end we decided that the mysterious tents were not a nuclear shelter for two reasons:-

bullet 1

Out of all the people that have ever thought this about strange structures only a very few have ever been right. Since we're not the lucky guess types (as proved by the lottery) we probably would number amongst the countless millions that were wrong.

bullet 2

There isn't anyone of the ilk of Tony Blair, John Prescot or Mungo Jerry living on our estate. For them to come from London they'd have to travel like the proverbial bat out of hell down the M.3 to get to the end of our road in time.

The suspected truth. We thought the most likely explanation of this mystery lies with the coming of cable telephone and television to our area. Since the system has become operational, a number of customers have deserted the old telephone company. This must inevitably lead to redundancies and of course, redundancy pay-outs. That's where these tents come in. The company 'heavies' are driving lorry loads of unsuspecting engineers to what they think is just another job and then sending them, one by one, into the tents on the pretext of passing the man before a spanner. Once in there they are never seen again. The truth is that these tents are for getting rid of engineers in ways that I hardly like to think about and all it costs the phone company is one spanner per man. A big saving by any way of thinking. All they have to say to the relatives is that he was all right the last time they saw him.

This theory was reinforced the other day when I drove by and saw an arm sticking out of the tent flap in a beseeching, imploring sort of manner and then it slowly disappeared. If your thinking of switching phone companies I'd think twice if I were you otherwise, like me, you'll have to live with blood on your conscience.

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