The Daylesford Decision or Getting the Muppets.

Email 

To Mrs/Ms Jackie K

Please forgive the inexact appellation.

I wish to thank you for your spontaneous agreement to assist me in what may turn out to be a dangerous leap into the world of mayhem and a certain stretching of legalities.

To make the clear waters as muddy as I can let me tell you a little of what I know.

I was approached by a brother and sister couple who advised me that their mother had fallen foul of laws prohibiting the importation of proscribed materials into Australia. Whilst she is technically guilty and will probably spend some considerable time in an Australian gaol I am convinced that she was tricked/coerced into acting innocently by two not so innocent males of English persuasion.

We, the family and I, are now set on making the life of the two naughty persons uncomfortable.

To put it plainly, I know what I want to accomplish – I know what I want the outcome to be – but I haven’t yet worked out the how and the when. I certainly know the why.

I will ask you sometime in the future to do a few fairly simple acts of investigation. In other words, I need someone on the ground in England. All you will need to do is to become a true and faithful friend of an old lady. (Maybe ‘true’ and ‘faithful’ will be pushing things a bit far.)

I am not sure what I want you to actually do as I am still mulling over in my mind what needs to be done. I will contact you when I have something clear in my mind. It might be a while.

Regards

John.

Email No 2

Dear Jackie,

Thanks for the quick response. And you are right. I need to give you a bit more information.

Firstly; our subject – we will call her Violet for victim – lost her husband about twelve months ago. She lived in Newbury but moved to Southampton to be close to her daughter. Her husband died of prostate cancer and she blames herself with that amazing logic that some wives have. Her children – Ken and Fiona, 26 and 23 – persuaded her to get out of the house and to start living again. So Violet joined The Southampton and District  Gardeners’ Club.

Violet became good friends with a woman at the Gardeners’ club and they became quite close. For the time being the woman will be called Elsie.

Anyway, over time Elsie’s husband Bert, joined Elsie and Violet at the gardeners’ club and then Bert’s mate turned up.

All of the three became very ‘concerned’ about Violet’s feelings of guilt and started to try and talk her out of it. Very slowly, casually and cleverly they suggested she should have a little holiday overseas.  They appear to have been lucky because Violet said she had a sister who lived in Australia and that ‘it might be nice’ to go and visit her.

What I need you to do is go the the Gardeners’ Club,join the club and make a few friends. Don’t concentrate on anyone in particular. When you think people are starting to accept you I will tell you what Elsie’s real name is. For your safety I can’t have you going in and knowing who our targets are. Not yet. When you think it is safe let me know and I will give you their names. I will leave this up to you to decide when you feel comfortable.

I won’t tell you much more for now except to say that the two men had hidden some drugs in Violet’s luggage and it was found when she got to Australia.

And our aim is to do to them what they did to Violet.

I do hope Southampton is not too far away. Please keep a tab of what you spend because Ken is going to finance the whole thing. It would be nice to be a banker and not have to worry about money. Ken said he is willing to spend a lot if we get our act together so don’t get too fussed if you need to spend a bit on petrol and buying a round or two at the club.

Regards

John.

Email No 3

To Kenneth W

cc to Fi W,  Jackie K

Dear Ken,

Thanks for your email. When we talked in the tea house in Daylesford it was clear, unfortunately that we would not be trying to get your mum out of gaol. We would be trying to extract a certain revenge.

So if I read your last email correctly, you are suggesting that we plant some drugs, a reasonable amount, on the two men that Jackie will reveal, and then sit back and wait for them to be caught. We did mention something like that in Daylesford, but I have actually  been waiting for you to restate it. I don’t want to do anything that you or Fiona are uncomfortable with. The following are the points that are raised and which effect you directly.

A reasonable amount is going to cost a fair bit of money.

Are you prepared to spend ‘a fair bit of money’?

How much is a reasonable amount of drugs. That will be my homework.

Will you, and Fi, accept the fact that the two men might get a more severe punishment than your mother? Could you live with that?

How will we get the drugs into their possession? I have an idea but I would be happy for any suggestions from any of you.

We have to get them to fly to some country that will search their bags. Again – Any suggestions.

Jackie has told me that she feels comfortable with the people she has met at the Gardeners’ Club. So we can now reveal that your mother’s real name is Emily.

Note to Jackie; I had a thought that now you seem to be accepted in the club you could casually just say to anyone something like; “It was a terrible thing about that woman getting caught with drugs in Australia. What was her name?” If you say it in such a way that everyone seems to know, and then if they answer, Emily, you will know that you have the right person.

I will wait to hear from you all.

Regards

John

Email No 4

To:  Jackie

Dear Jackie, There are a few ideas germinating in my head.

How is the relationship with the folk at the Gardeners’ Club? Have you been able to pinpoint the targets?

I have noticed that sometimes you have driven Derrick to Lyndhurst and I assume that this is on the way to Southampton. In the High Street at number 34 there is a Pharmacy, Rowlands’. Don’t ask how I know, I just do. Anyway it is just near where Derrick sits and takes photographs while you shop.

I would like you to go in and have a look at their talcum powders, particularly that formulated for ‘heat rash’. If it possible could you choose one that DOES NOT have elaborate plastic or cellophane wrapping. If there is a Gift Pack that includes Heat Rash talcum then that is the one to go for – even if the gift pack is wrapped in cellophane.

When you have finally located the targets you really have to make a huge effort – even if they seem to be the last people on earth that you would associate with. There may be the need for a little play acting or lowering of standards. (However the fact that they are members of a Gardeners’ club bodes well. Gardeners are usually decent sorts.)

Also a casual chat about what particular different prescription drugs the two men take could come in quite handy.

Don’t worry too much about any sort of a time line. There is no desperate need for immediacy.

John.

Email No 5

To: Ken

Dear Ken, Please delete this from you computer ASAP.

Question, How easily could you acquire a little ‘Talcum Powder’ (TP)? The type that we referred to when I saw you . Actually as far as money goes about as much TP as you are prepared to spend but keeping back enough money for a couple of airfares to some, as yet, unnamed S.E. Asian country.

John

Email No 6

Email: Jackie

We are going to have to be a bit careful from now on and so I will send all emails encrypted.

You will need to go to the Post Office in Lyndhurst and ask for a letter that I will send addressed to you c/- the PO Lyndhurst. This will give you the key to decrypt emails in future. That letter should arrive in the next two days.  (‘Decrypt’  Just another new word to learn.!!!!!)

I will organise a similar procedure for Kenneth and Fiona.

I do appreciate your contribution to this endeavour. Your foresight in obtaining both the ‘Lavender’ and the ‘Active Herbal’ Talcum Powder together with the Pinetarsol cleansing Gel was inspired. Now I know why I asked you to help with this.

John.

Email  No 7

cc Kenneth, Fiona

Major, scary, eventful advice to all.

Late yesterday afternoon I got a phone call on my landline from one of the fellows I worked with during the Tasmanian cocaine drug adventure involving the two American DEA fellows who nearly got me killed.

He started talking generally but then in the middle of the conversation said, “John, you old fool, you should have sent all your emails encrypted right from the beginning. And that last stupid email in Sanscrit just goes to prove that you were always an amateur and you were on the way to getting a lot of people into trouble.”

The gist of what he said was this: he is now in a section of Australian Border Force and they are continually running checks on drug mules and my name came up linked to Emily. So from the beginning they have been reading all my emails to you three. And all my emails to everyone now! And they will read this one as well.

He said that he, personally, had very little concern if we did in fact accomplish what we set out to do ‘vis-a-vis the situation going forward’. (Those were his words. I have never used those words in any conversation, ever.) The fact that you, Jackie, would have been implicated puts you in terrible danger if the ‘targets’ ever suspected you were involved.

He said that even if this was all a silly game it was still serious because it takes up time and resources that would be better used elsewhere.

He then gave me some advice that I won’t repeat here.

Then last night I woke up sweating and heart thumping and thought I heard someone outside my bedroom window. When I was fully awake I realised it was just a loose sheet of iron on the next door’s garden shed and I am on the second floor so there was no way anyone could have been there.

I lay awake for ever and realised that I cannot go on with this.

As my friend in Border Force said, “It was a serious, stupid, probably illegal, dangerous plan in the first place.”  Now although I had not laid out the whole plan, to him, it seemed obvious where we were planning to go.

However I have wanted to visit a friend of mine in Turkey in the coming weeks and will try to get to England to see you and to apologise in person. I will write to you all when I get there and maybe we can have a glass or two and laugh at our/my idiocy.

Regards

John

There will be no more emails.

 

The Daylesford Decision Papers

Chapter 1

The Daylesford Tea House Decision

I was coming back from visiting Emily at Tarrengower Prison just outside Maldon in Central Victoria and my mind was spinning with all that had happened since that first day when I met with her two children, Ken and Fiona, at the Daylesford tea house.

Emily had been moved from the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre Maximum Security Women’s Prison to Tarrengower after  reassessment  and she looked and sounded a lot better than when I first saw her.  Originally a farm, the prison was opened in 1988 after the property was purchased and accommodation units were built. It is the only minimum security female prison in Victoria.

The first thing she did was to show me a video about greyhounds which seems a bit incongruous until you see it. You might like to have a look yourself. I found it quite moving.

After wandering around in the visitors’ area for a while she asked me how things were going with our plan. I didn’t know how to tell her as I was still coming to terms with that disastrous ‘phone call I had taken from the bloke at Border Force. I had been a fool to think I could send emails from one side of the world to the other planning to set-up two fellows and have them caught trying to smuggle drugs. Every time a news item appears on TV about how the authorities have stopped a planned terrorist attack or a planned drug import I should have known that we are all being spied upon. I know that the authorities are doing it to ‘keep us safe’ and that only the people who plan illegal activities should worry. And here we were planning an illegal activity and we had been found out.

I handed Emily a copy of all the emails I had sent to Jackie and Ken and Fiona. You can see what I gave her if you haven’t read them all by going to this reference. All the Emails. To tell the truth I had not made up my mind what to do next and I was hoping Emily could help me to decide a few things.

Emily comes across as quite a gentle natured and meek women so I didn’t know how she would react.

She read slowly but was getting more and more agitated as she read. Then carefully and slowly she tore the sheet of paper in two and then two again. She said nothing to me but walked over to the prison officer who was standing near the gate and asked for his cigarette lighter.  Putting the flame to the emails she watched them burn and then carefully picked up the ashes in her hand, walked over to where I was standing and thrust them into my chest and rubbed them all over my shirt.

“Now you can take you bloody email plans back to you safe little flat in Melbourne and get on with writing safe little poems and taking safe little photographs of sparrows and butterflies and leave me here to rot. It’s bloody obvious you are going to do nothing. At least you had the guts to come and tell me yourself.”

Then she sank down onto the grass and started crying, quietly. I sat and waited for the sobbing to cease. Yes, I had wanted to find a way out. I did want to be released from my promise to help. But as I waited and watched her tears I was strengthened in my resolve to help.

She stopped crying and looked up, “Sorry about you shirt,” she said with a rueful smile. “I was bit upset.”

“And so you should have been. I shouldn’t have handed them to you like I did. Let me explain my thoughts.”

What I said next was just another example of me thinking on the run. This was not a well worked out plan, just an idea that needed a bit of work.

“Emily,” I said, “I will do what I can. But obviously I can’t continue writing emails or we could all get into a lot of trouble. You don’t know Jackie. All she is to you is someone who offered to help for no other reason that I asked her. But I can no longer use her. It is too dangerous. So I am going to England myself. Jackie has given me a few ideas, and she has laid a lot of groundwork.

“I will go and see her, and then see Ken and Fi and we will work out the plan. We won’t let you down.”

I stood up. She held her hand up to me and I pulled her up standing. I promised to see her next visiting day and went to the gate.

“Goodbye,” she said. “And thank you. I’m sorry about your shirt.” She smiled, nodded to the guard at the gate and walked back into the secure area.

Chapter 2

The Daylesford Decision

I’ve called this whole event the ‘Daylesford Decision’ because that was what it was. It was in the Tea House there that we, Fi, Ken and I decided to take action to alleviate the emotional pain that Emily was feeling by being locked up because the two bastards in England had set her up as a drug mule. Now you’ve all seen the emails that I sent to England when I was feeling all gung-ho and these, of course, provoked the call I had from my ex-mate in ASIO that really put the brakes on and actually scared the living day lights out of me.

I had left Emily at Tarrengower with a commitment to go on with the job. But all the time in the car home and lying in bed that night staring at the ceiling I was trying to work out how I could get out of it. In the end I knew I was committed to helping her. Next morning I went down the street, had Leila, the beautiful Uzbekistani girl at the local barber shop, trim my beard and then went to the Post Office to have my photo taken for my passport. At least that showed a certain commitment.

My passport had only expired about eighteen months earlier so the new one arrived quickly and I got the first available flight out of Melbourne. This was a Malaysian Airways flight that stopped over at Kuala Lumpur for a night. I was quite pleased to have a wander around because KL had been in my mind for reasons that will become evident.

Next day I landed at Heathrow and took the train to Bournemouth where I had planned to meet Jackie. It was great to put a face to the lady who was prepared to put her all into a project for people she had never met. I hired a car and drove via Lyndhurst to Southampton and Jackie showed me the Gardeners’ Club but I made certain that she was not seen with me. We had coffee at a shop on the University Campus nearby because I was wanting to get into the role of being an academic authority on Australian Native plants. That was how I had planned to make contact with the people at the Club.

Jackie gave me a rundown on who was who at the club and she handed photos of the ‘targets’. Then I drove her back to her place, thanked her profusely for all she had done and told that her role was over. I’m quite sure she was disappointed but I stressed how dangerous things could get.

The next day I presented myself to the secretary of the Gardeners’ Club, met with some of the committee and organised to address the club on the problems of growing Australian natives in the south of England. I’m not sure if I ever mentioned that I was involved back home with growing Australian natives and had come prepared with leaflets and advice. I made a bit of a thing about knowing nobody in England and about not being a confidant motorist. I explained that I was not a great tourist and preferred staying in one place rather than traipsing around the whole of England. It was therefore accepted that I would make the Club my home base and started spending a few bob on buying beer at various pubs for my new-found best friends in England.

It was not until the second week that I struck a connection with Elsie and her husband Bert. I lied through my teeth and said I was from New Zealand. They didn’t seem to think there was anything discordant about a Kiwi being an expert on Australian native plants but I spun a yarn about the number of Kiwis who lived and worked in Australia.

I disappeared every now and then to meet with Ken and Fiona. They were very keen to hear about their mother as it was hard to contact her since they had returned from Australia. And they were very keen to discuss plans for the future. “So what are our plans, going forward?” Ken asked. I had to stop myself for a minute. What a vacuous inanity is that horrible two-word phrase. Why on earth can’t we just say ‘tomorrow’. You don’t made plans for yesterday. I felt like say we would have to make plans ‘going sideways’ before we could go ‘forward’ but I’m not sure if he would have got the joke.

Chapter 3

Nottingham Pub.

I think I wasted a bit of time sightseeing around the south of England but to tell the truth I was actually finding excuses to delay doing anything about the campaign.

But that all came to an end when Ken and Fi and I sat down for a serious planning meeting.

“Righto John. Fi and I were talking last night and we want to know what our options are. Are we going to do anything or do we just resign ourselves to Mum staying in gaol in Australia? Fi, you go first.”

It was obvious that Ken had decided to be chairman and I was relegated to facilitator. (His words not mine.) My first reaction was to be a little annoyed but in the time it took for Fi to start talking I felt a great weight lift of my shoulders.

Fi started. “John, up to now we have left the running to you and we feel that it would be better if we made a few decisions ourselves because, after all it is our mother we are talking about. So if you’re happy, can we talk about what we are feeling and then we will decide and you will be the one to carry out the plan? And we don’t want you to feel that we are unhappy with what you have done so far.”

‘Well,” I said. “You don’t know how happy I am to hear you say that. And I guess you are with Fi on this Ken?”

“Yes. I am.”

“Ken, you said you wanted to know what your options are. So lets see what we’ve got. Firstly we want to do something to Bert and his mate to balance out what they did to your mother. Agree?”

They both nodded.

“Secondly, I think we all feel that we want to somehow place something in their bags and get them caught taking the something, whatever it is, through a customs check. Yes?”

“Yes,” said Fi, “But I don’t want them to get caught and sent to prison for life or maybe even executed. You said something about stopping in Malaysia on you way from Melbourne and I looked it up and that is a very bad place to get caught. I don’t mind if they go to gaol for as long as Mum does, I want that, but I don’t want them executed. That would make us worse than them.”

“And if we have to plant enough drugs to make it worthwhile then that’s going to take a lot of money. And I know I am pretty well off but still….,” said Ken.

I agreed with both of the sentiments expressed. Their fears and concerns were exactly the ones I had been harbouring and they were what had been worrying me all this time.

“Good,” I said. “So a bit of time in gaol but no death and mayhem. That’s ‘One’. And drugs that aren’t all that expensive.”

“Marijuana! There’s plenty of that at Uni. And Coke,” exclaimed Fi.

“But we have to get it into their bags.” Ken jumped up and headed for the bar. “Who wants another beer?”

We had gone up to Nottingham. Ken wanted to show me a little pub up there that had a great range of craft beers. It was called the “Lion At Basford” and he wanted me to try something called “Downfall Architect” which was an American Style Pale Ale. When Ken and Fi were in Australia and we’d gone to the Daylesford Tea House I had ordered an Australia Pale Ale and they had both liked it.

I was quite impressed with the beer and asked Ken to ask the barman what hops was used in the beer. He came back and said it was Mosaic. I had heard of it and some other fellow at the bar who was drinking the same beer came over and we got to talking about the different hop varieties that we knew and he and I traded arrogance back and forth.

Then he left and the three of us sat and chatted. Ken and Fi knew very little about beer making and I was in my element. I boasted and bragged and regaled them with my knowledge of beer making and especially with the part played by hops.

And an idea was starting to form in the back streets of my cerebral cortex.

“I’ve got an idea,” I said. “It’ll take a bit of working out and I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve got it.”

We left and went our various ways. But I went and did a little research and I wondered where to from here?

Chapter 4

It’s All in the Difference

When I said we went our various ways we actually went in my rental car because Fi was at Leicester University which is just down the road from Nottingham and I dropped her off there. Ken and I then went on down South and I dropped him somewhere or other in Watford and I drove on to Guildford where I had rented a small flat.

Ken wanted to talk about beer making, I think because we both were avoiding the real problem and anyway my brain was working overtime with the plan that came to me when we were in the pub in Nottingham.

It started when Fi shouted “marijuana!” and then we got stepped sideways talking about beer and hops. Now hops is in the same family as marijuana. They are both members of the Cannabis family. Another member of the family is hemp. We therefore have three different plants; hops, hemp and marijuana. What kept coming up in my head was the similarity I had noticed years before when I first started brewing beer, between the seeds of all three of these plants.

Only someone who has seen these seeds and held them in their hand can tell the difference and even then it is difficult. Therein lies the germ of the idea. All along we have wanted to plant an illegal drug on the two men who cost Emily her freedom. It is possible to legally purchase all three of these but it is illegal to import some of them into various different countries.

Hemp has many uses. Traditionally it was used to make cloth, canvas, ropes and a variety of medicinal products. Hemp can be grown legally in quite a few countries but it is definitely legal in New Zealand and parts of Australia.

Marijuana on the other hand is illegal in most countries. In some countries it can incur a mandatory death sentence for amounts over a certain limit. In Malaysia, and that is where my mind is taking me, individuals arrested in possession of 50 grams (1.5 ounces) or less can be sentenced to imprisonment up to 10 years. But medicinal marijuana is gaining some legality in some places.

Hops is legal anywhere. However, in beer making it is important that the flavour and bitterness of the hop is the same all the time. So only female hop plants are grown except where it might be the desire of the hop grower to try a new crossbreed. Male hop plants are often declared as a noxious weed because they grow very vigorously and spread under ground and can easily take over a garden. Therefore hop seeds are difficult to acquire but not impossible.

The next day I went up to London to have a chat with Ken.

“So have you come up with a magic fix?” he asked.

“Let’s have beer while we talk. It’s my shout today. You can buy the drinks next time.” I went to the bar and ordered a couple of craft beers with a pale ale hop flavour. One had a real taste of ‘Cascade’ and ‘Chinook’ hops from Northwest USA and the other had the strong flavours of the New Zealand ‘Pacific Jade’ and ‘Pacifica’ hops. I asked Ken to describe and comment on the differences he could notice between the American hops and the Kiwi hops.

“I can’t explain why they are different but the difference is big. Both I really like, but what has all this about beer got to do with anything?”

I showed him the three pictures of the Hop, Hemp and Marijuana seeds and asked him to see if he could tell them apart. I didn’t tell him what they were.

“Well,” he mumbled. “Apart from the fact that the middle one is smaller they all look much the same to me. Although there are slight differences in colour.”

“That’s because one is older and dryer than the others. But they are all basically the same shape, the same colour when fresh and the same size. And they are all in the same biological family.”

“Are there any significant differences?”

“Yes. The one on the right is hops and the flowers of the vine that they produce add flavour to your beer and add the bitterness. The one on the left can be used to make ropes and cloth and food and has been for thousands of years. The one in the middle can get you thrown in gaol. So how do you like them apples!”

“I’ve got a funny feeling you are going to tell me something more.”

“When I’ve had another beer.”

Ken came back with another beer each; this time an old traditional London Bitter.

“So here is the plan, Ken…………………….

Chapter 5

Setting up the Beagle

“So here is the plan, Ken…………………….

“I suggest that we get some marijuana seeds and have them placed in the luggage of Bert and his mate whom I have decided to call Ernie because they are both muppets.

“I will attempt to give the seeds to the two muppets openly and ‘honestly’.

“To make sure that they are stopped at a customs point it will be necessary to add a little cocaine to their luggage to attract ‘sniffer’ dogs.”

“Great plan,” Ken exclaimed as he sipped his beer. “I’m sure I can find a way to get some marijuana seeds. That shouldn’t be a problem. But how will you get to give them to the two ‘Muppets’? And I do like that name for them.”

“We will give them hemp seeds instead. I mean we will tell them they’re hemp seeds.”

“Right. Why would anyone give them hemp seeds anyway? And, anyway again, why would you have hemp seeds in the first instance?”

“Because, Kenneth my dear Pommy co-conspirator, I intend to become a grower of industrial hemp.”

“John, would it be possible for you to stop beating around the bush and just tell me all? It is like pulling teeth trying to get you to explain.”

“Sorry Ken. Get me another beer. No, a whisky please. No ice and just a small dash of water and I will explain.”

While he was at the bar I collected my thoughts and jotted down brief notes on the back of a coaster.

“Thanks,” I said as he placed the whisky on the table. “I have established myself as an ‘academic authority on Australian Native plants’.

“Australia actually does produce hemp. Therefore it should be acceptable for me, an agronomist, to come here to England to search for hemp seeds. Why England, I hear you ask. Because Ken, England is very close to France. I don’t speak French, you do I believe, and France is the main source of viable low THC hemp seed and that is why I came here.”

“What is THC? And I don’t speak French but Fiona does,” said Ken.

“I don’t know and don’t really care but I think it means a chemical in hemp that doesn’t have the drug that marijuana has and it means the seeds can be consumed as food. But that doesn’t matter. It just sounds good and should convince the ‘Muppets’ when I give my next ‘entertaining and informative’ talk to the Southampton Gardeners Club.

“I will explain to the Club that I am in the process of developing my wheat and barley farm in Tasmania and going into hemp production. Then Fi, and not you, will come over to France with me and we will buy some hemp seeds. This will be a completely legitimate process because I will show everyone my Australian Government Permission to import seeds from France, which I will get from my brother who does legitimately own a farm in Victoria, not Tasmania.  And I have already asked him and he should have it by now. With any luck.”

“Now I am confused!’ said Ken. “If we want to give the muppets marijuana seeds, why on earth do we want to buy hemp seeds?”

“Two reasons Ken. One because my brother actually is intending to start growing hemp and he has really applied for an import licence and that is partly why I came up with this idea. But secondly because we will mix 400 grammes of hemp seed with 100 grammes of Marijuana seeds and nobody will doubt that we have half a kilo of hemp.  If we are trying to convince the two muppets that everything is legit then they will see half a kilo of hemp and an import licence for half a kilo of hemp.”

“You haven’t cleared up my confusion. It’s worse,” said Ken.

“Listen carefully young fellow. In the bag of seeds we also add an ounce or two of cocaine. We explain to the two muppets that the white powder is a fungicide that is dusted on the seeds to prevent them deteriorating. This should be enough to wake up the beagle.”

“What beagle?’

“The drug sniffing Beagle at the airports. Then when the beagle finds the packet of seeds the packet will be tested. First it will register as coke. Then they will test the seeds. the half kilo bag of seeds will register as marijuana, because it would take a marijuana/hemp seed expert to tell the difference and to separate the two seeds into two piles.”

“Ok. But let’s say that we get all this organised; 400 grammes of hemp seeds, 100 grammes of marijuana and a couple of ounces of coke. Why will the two muppets take it from you and put it in their bags?”

“Could you buy me another whisky and I’ll tell you……………”

Chapter 6

Leicester to St-Malo

“Could you buy me another whisky and I’ll tell you……………”

We talked for another hour and I went into as much detail as I could. There were some things I hadn’t worked out yet but I was pretty close to a final plan of attack.

The next day I went up to Leicester to see Fiona. She was doing her Masters in Contemporary Sociology and was free until later in the afternoon when she was meeting with three other post-grad students. Fi took me down to the Riverside Cafe for coffee with some of her friends and I looked out over the River Soar and wished I’d brought my camera. She introduced me to her friends as her Uncle from Australia. It felt quite nice actually. After coffee I needed to talk to her without company so we walked along the old tow path to the Grand Union canal. We stopped and I admired a long line of “Narrow” boats and thought how wonderful it would be to travel around England on the vast network of canals.

“So, Uncle John,” she said with a smile. “You didn’t come up here to look at boats and rivers!”

“No,Fiona, I didn’t. I now need you to do something for us. What is the drug situation here at Leicester?”

“It’s a University. You can get almost anything you want. If you know who to ask.”

“Do you know who to ask if you want marijuana seeds?”

“No. But I know someone who would know? Why?”

“Because I want you to buy me one hundred grammes of seeds. They must be the sort that you would use to grow a good high quality crop. And what about cocaine? Can you get some of that?”

“Yes. You were talking to someone just before when we had coffee. The boy with the funny haircut who kept teasing you about Australian cricket. In fact he can find anything.”

“Well I don’t want you to use him if you can find someone else. So I need one hundred grammes of seed, probably a little bit of leaf as well and about one gramme of cocaine. I told Ken I wanted two ounces of cocaine but I didn’t realise just how much that was. One gramme is enough.”

“Ok Uncle John. Should I get the money from you or from Ken?”

“No, ask Ken for the money.”

I said goodbye and went back south. I was a nice trip and I had enjoyed my day. It is sad that the circumstances were as they were. For the whole time we had talked Fiona didn’t once mention her mother. Ken had been the same. They were both focussed on ‘getting the muppets’.

When I got back there was a letter waiting for me at the Post Office. It was from my brother and he had enclosed the Import Licence. What an idiot I am, I thought. I had forgotten to tell Fi I wanted her to come to France with me to buy the industrial hemp seeds. I would need to go back and see her. I had made it a rule that we wouldn’t discuss anything on the phone but only face to face. So three days later we were having coffee at the same cafe on the river Soar and we wandered down the same tow path and I explained the reason for the trip to France.

Two weeks later we flew to St Helier on Jersey and took the ferry across to St-Malo. I went and hired a car and while they were getting it ready we wandered around the old town and I saw the WWll Memorial to the Resistance fighters. It had a strange effect on me. Here we were, playing a little game that did have a slightly serious base to it and here was a memorial to those who played a deadly serious game not such a long time ago. I didn’t mean to let her see, but Fi noticed the tear in my eye when I looked at the monument. She said nothing but just put her hand on my arm in that way mothers do to little children. I explained that I was born in ’43 when young men and women who could well have been the same age as she was were fighting and dying, were shot or sent to concentration camps. That I was alive then and since then I have never had to take a stand on anything of any real importance.

And we got in the car and drove off to………

Chapter 7

A Holiday for Fiona

We got in the car and drove off to find our Industrial Hemp seeds.

We left St-Malo and headed south. About fifteen km we turned left onto the N176 and then another fifteen there is a small town called Dol-de-Bretagne. Here we turn right again and we were heading for Fougeres fifty km away. My new fangled GPS what’s-it said it would take about 50 minutes. I planned on stopping now and then and in the end it took about three hours. We stopped along the road for views and small towns that were so different from Australia it was like being in a new country. Fiona kindly advised me that we were in a new country. We stopped at a small town, Antrain, which I learned should more correctly be referred to as a commune. Fiona wanted to see the Chateau de Bonnefontaine and it was definitely worth the side-trip. But we were not really on a sightseeing tour. We had business at hand.

We arrived at Fougères and met our host in a delightful cafe. He would not show me to his actual farm because, he said, it was a registered organic farm.  I think he was more concerned to keep his production secrets to himself. He was a big grower and I don’t really blame him. If I was intending to become a competitor I would feel the same way as he did. But he was a gracious host and we talked about hemp and Australia and the problems he had with EU regulations. He had been to Australia a couple of years earlier which is why I was able to make contact.

I purchased a kilo of seeds – 600 grammes for my brother and 400 grammes for the muppets. We took our time and I made it as much like a holiday for Fiona because I felt that she was concerned for her mother and worried that we would not be able to help her. Fiona took a lot of photographs but she did not give any to me. I have taken the liberty of using some from other sources. These are in the small town – commune – and I hope it distracted Fiona for a short time at least.

We retraced our steps to St-Malo and went to Jersey. I was still thinking of making it a bit of a holiday for Fiona so instead of flying back to England I bought two tickets on the ferry from St Helier to Poole. Poole is very close to where I have my digs in the south of England so it worked out well. The ferry passed a small island on our left and a little old lady (LOL) on the ferry said it was Alderney.

“Where have I heard that name before?” Fi asked and the LOL said that Christopher Robin would have told her. At this point the lights went on and Fiona and the LOL stood together and recited. I think the LOL knew it well and took the lead.

 The King’s Breakfast

The King asked The Queen, and
The Queen asked The Dairymaid:
“Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?”
The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid Said, “Certainly,
I’ll go and tell the cow
Now Before she goes to bed.”

The Dairymaid She curtsied,
And went and told the Alderney:
“Don’t forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread.”
The Alderney said sleepily:
“You’d better tell His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade Instead.”

The Dairymaid Said “Fancy!”
And went to Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
“Excuse me,Your Majesty,
For taking of The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It’s very Thickly Spread.”

The Queen said “Oh!”
And went to his Majesty:
“Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people Think that
Marmalade Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little
Marmalade Instead?”

The King said,”Bother!”
And then he said,”Oh, deary me!”
The King sobbed, “Oh, deary me!”
And went back to bed.
“Nobody,” He whimpered,
“Could call me A fussy man;
I only want A little bit
Of butter for My bread!”

The Queen said, “There, there!”
And went to The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid Said, “There, there!”
And went to the shed.
The Alderney said,”There, there!
I didn’t really Mean it;
Here’s milk for his porringer
And butter for his bread.”

The queen took the butter
And brought it to His Majesty.
The King said “Butter, eh?”
And bounced out of bed.
“Nobody,” he said, As he kissed her
Tenderly, “Nobody,” he said,
As he slid down The banisters,
“Nobody, My darling,
Could call me A fussy man –
BUT
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!”

And when the recital was over Fiona asked me for the relevance of the poem and I, the son of a dairy farmer, explained that the Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey had given their names to two very famous breeds of dairy cow. Alderney had also produced its own breed of dairy cow but it wasn’t quite so well-known. It is now extinct although its blood lines have been crossed into other breeds. The last remaining Alderneys living on the island of Alderney were killed  and eaten in 1944 by the German soldiers who occupied the island during the war.

Fiona was not very happy about that but the day was certainly a change for her. Tomorrow we will all get back to serious business.

Chapter 8

Looking after his Sister

 When we got to my place I dumped all my gear, and the hemp seeds, and set off to take Fiona back to Leicester. We drove straight through Oxford on the way but it was dark so I didn’t see much. Fiona only has a room at the Uni in Leicester so, about thirty miles south of the University and just off the M1 I found a little old pub called the Heart of England and I treated myself to a bed for the night.

Next morning I headed off to Oxford and drove around wondering what it would have been like to have studied there instead of spending my time doing night classes at Swinburne in Melbourne. But then again, I’ve never been one to fret over what-could-have-been so I made my way to my rooms near Southampton and kept on with the task at hand.

Ever since I got that call from the fellow in Australian Border Force about not sending emails we, Ken and Fi and I, have not been in contact via ‘phone. We only use the mail and address all letters to a Post Office. We change Post Offices after each letter so there can never be a pattern forming. Next morning I took a leisurely drive to the little village of Burley in the New Forest and picked up a letter from Ken.

In his letter he spoke about Fiona and some of her concerns. She seemed to have two concerns and was reluctant to talk to me about them. First of all she was uncomfortable about trying to buy marijuana because it would get out into the University student world that she was looking for drugs and she feared that it would damage her good reputation which she had always been careful to maintain.

But most of all she kept thinking about her mother in gaol in Australia. What we were doing was attempting to punish the “Muppets” but that wasn’t going to help her mum.

I had noticed something about her state of mind when we were in France and had begun to feel concerned, as I mentioned earlier. It had, I must admit, been on the back of my mind for a while as well. Was there any way of connecting the synapses from the back to the front of my mind? I will work on it.

Meanwhile, Ken continued, he had been busy worrying about his little sister and had gone out and found one hundred grammes of marijuana seeds and two grammes of cocaine so that she would not need to do it.

So, we had the hemp seed, we had the marijuana and we had the cocaine. This coming Thursday night I was to give a talk at the Gardeners’ Club in Southampton where I would need to sew a few seeds of my own with the hope of trapping the muppets. How I would do that I wasn’t sure. I needed to go and have a chat with Jackie. I know I had stopped using her, for her own safety, but she had really seemed to be a woman of considerable common-sense.

All I wanted to do was to talk through my plan with her with the hope that she could see the flaws that I could not.

Tomorrow I will go and see her and in the meantime I will try and get my thoughts a little clearer. I need a pencil and paper and perhaps something to pour into a whisky glass.

Chapter 9

Mayhem and Muppets.

In keeping with my newfound sense of security I had moved to a new B&B in Poole close to where the Jersey Ferry docks. I chose Poole for mildly sentimental reason as much as anything – I knew a girl called Poole and she and her husband had once been good friends of mine until they moved to Canada and we lost touch. Poole was still quite close to Southampton, only sixty km, which some of my Pommy friends reckon is a long way but in Australia some people drive that far just to get their mail and have a chat with their neighbour.

I went and had a sit down and a bite to eat with Jackie. It was very pleasant but she insisted that I drink Hoegaarden, which is a Belgium wheat beer. I made a bit of a fuss at first but did not tell her that it is actually a favourite of mine and I have made a batch for myself using a cloned recipe. But enough of the important things of life – we needed to discuss ‘Mayhem and Muppets’.

I explained to her some of the fine details of the plan. We have the import licence to take hemp seeds into Australia. This is to convince the Muppets of the legality of carrying the seeds on a ‘plane. We have the marijuana seeds which will give the customs people something with which to charge the Muppets. We have a little bit of Cocaine which will attract the attention of the airport sniffer dogs.

I explained that my talk to the Southampton Gardeners’ Club about the growing of hemp as a viable crop in Australia and England was to be as open and honest as I could be and would therefore legitimise me in the eyes of the Muppets when the next stage was to be. We needed to come up with an excuse to get them to put the stuff into their travel bags. Here I had some concerns. I had a bit of an idea but needed to run it by her.

I ran it by her.

“So,” she asked. “If you suddenly had a heart attack and your brother desperately needed the hemp seeds as close to immediately as possible because it would financially ruin him if he didn’t get them, then you might just have to buy them a ticket to Australia and pay for a bit of a holiday if they would ‘please, please, you don’t know how urgent and important this is’ to take the seeds to Australia for you.”

She took a deep breath to give me a chance to nod my head.

“And then you would just have to leave it up to the Australian authorities to do their bit.”

“But what if the Aussie authorities check the seeds carefully and decide that there’s not enough to charge them with enough to go to gaol for as long as Emily. The kids’ mother?”

“Then send them to Malaysia. They’ll end up doing porridge for twenty years.”

“That’s probably too much.”

“That’s not your problem,” she said. “Could you buy me another Hoegaarden, please or doesn’t your budget cover such things?”

I paid for the meal and the libation and offered to drive her home.

“No thanks all the same. I really don’t want you to know where I live in case things go pear-shaped.”

I left and we went our separate ways. At the Post Office I picked up another letter from Kenneth and he asked for a meeting with all three of us. It seemed urgent and I organised to see the two of them on the day after my talk to the Gardeners’ club. That was on the Thursday, the day after my enjoyable luncheon with Jackie, and it went well. Jackie said even she believed me to be telling the truth even knowing I was lying through my teeth. And she had organised for me to be sitting with the Muppets during the rest of the club meeting.

Somewhere in my head the word “Malaysia” kept nudging at me.

Chapter 10

A Little bit of Blackmail.

Jackie was quite happy to sit and talk. It was too early in the day for a Hoegaarden but I settled for a very decent English ‘tea and scones’ with jam and clotted cream.

“Well, you didn’t come just for the tea and scones. What’s on your mind?”

I am always happy when people get to the point and don’t waffle. I just hoped I could explain what was on my mind as clearly as Jackie had asked.

“The two children want to back out. Fiona in particular and Ken because he is feeling supportive of his sister. Their concern is that it doesn’t help their mother while she is languishing in gaol. All it will accomplish is to exact some revenge upon the two men whose bastard minds got her there.”

“Do you want to back out?” Jackie asked, again getting to the point.

“I think we’ve come this far and it would be a shame to just give up now. We have the marijuana and a little coke. We have the import licence to smuggle the marijuana into Australia with the hemp seed and we have a good story to convince them, the muppets, to put the stuff in their bags and take it to Australia. It is just that now, the two of Emily’s children, would rather that their mother was out of gaol and that is bloody obvious. But I don’t know how to do that.”

She sat back and closed her eyes. She said nothing, but the sound of her brain tick, tick, ticking was ominous.

“Can I pour you another cup of tea?” I asked. She shook her head slowly left to right, right to left. Slowly she opened her eyes and looked straight at me, “You need to get those two bastards, as you call them, to go to the authorities in Australia and own up to their guilt.”

I laughed. It was so totally stupid I couldn’t believe I had heard her. “And how, might I ask are we going to get them to do that?”

“Tell them that you will go to the authorities and explain everything. And don’t laugh. I haven’t finished. You must tell the muppets that if they don’t own up you will tell the authorities that you have proof. You will need to say that you set them up with the marijuana just as a way of getting them thrown in gaol.”

“What if that doesn’t work? We haven’t got a huge amount of drugs to put in their bags. Maybe they’ll only get six months.”

“You must make it worse. You must make sure that they are more frightened than they have ever been.”

“How?” I asked. I was still not sure where she was going with this and I was waiting for the ‘qet-straight-to-the-point’ Jackie to come forward.

“Malaysia. Send ’em to Malaysia. That’ll scare the daylights out of ’em. Tell them the Malaysian courts will charge them and they’ll get twenty years if they don’t come clean and clear Emily.”

“That sounds like Blackmail to me.”

“Rubbish. I prefer ‘coercion’. Anyway blackmail is just the most effective way of pointing out the effect of making a bad choice and the benefit of doing what we want them to do.”

“I’ve got to hand it to you, Jackie. You seem to be such a nice person, but I am so happy you’re on my side and not the side of the forces of evil.”

“You’re welcome”, she said. “Now I’ll leave the details up to you.” And with that she left.  I ordered a beer and drove back to Scone.

I now had a new plan. The old plan stays; we have the drugs, I have a ‘heart attack’ and that way we get the drugs into the muppets’ bags and convince them to take the drugs to Australia. But now we add a few more points, and these all will add up to them confessing their sins to the Australian authorities.

Two days later I was set. I drove up to London to see Ken and then on to Leicester to see Fiona. I told them of my new plan and gave them as much of the detail as I needed to get them to agree. I kept some very important details out for my own reasons and made a long distance phone call to Australia.

A week later I sent Fiona and Kenneth an email. No need to send letters to ‘Poste restante’. All it said was ‘Ready to go. I will give your love to Emily when I see her’.

Chapter Eleven

The Muppets to the Rescue 

On the next Thursday when the serious matters of the Gardeners’ Club had concluded I stood up to thank all and sundry for making me feel so welcome. I would be returning to Australia, I told everyone, within the next three days. I apologised if I had not mentioned it beforehand – although I had – that my main reason for being in the UK was to purchase industrial hemp seeds for trialling in Australia. The weather conditions were expected to be critical in the next two weeks and it was of paramount importance that I get back in time.

I also made special mention of the way that Elsie, her husband Bert and Bert’s best friend had been especially kind. There was a general round of applause and I walked around the room shaking hands. Then I excused myself and went to the Men’s Room. Just as I heard someone approaching, I pushed my finger down my throat, vomiting all that was in my stomach onto the washroom floor and fell knocking my head of one of the cubicle doors. By chance it was Bert’s friend who came in.

“I can’t breathe mate. I can’t breathe and I think I hurt my arm. There’s pain all up it.”

Then I closed my eyes and grimaced in pain. I must have done a good job because someone called an Ambulance and I ended up in some hospital, somewhere. Doctors ran all kinds of tests and I complained extensively of the pain in my chest and arm. I was then injected stuff that actually made me feel genuinely crook.

The next day I was told that there was no sign of serious heart damage. At about this time Elsie and Bert came in to see how I was. While they were there the doctor came in, (because I had pressed the help button), and I told him that I was feeling better and I turned and sat on the side of the bed and attempted to stand. But, lo and behold, my legs were too weak to hold me up and I fell. This time Bert caught me and plonked me back on the cot.

“I’m sorry sir,” said the Doctor, “I don’t think you’re going anywhere until we find out what’s wrong with you.”

“But I have to get back to Australia this week. If I don’t they’ll have to put the whole program back a year and that will cost the company hundreds of thousands of Dollars.”

“Well I can not discharge you, and even if I could you would probably have another even more serious attack on the plane. Just lie back and I’ll come back in a while. There are some more tests I can run.”

He left and I started moaning and groaning and complaining. I told Elsie and her brother to go because I was feeling so weak but asked Bert if he was free in the morning I would be happy to have a visit.

Well. So far so good.

I rang Jackie and asked her if she could come in at visiting time tomorrow and I would also like to meet her husband, Derrick. I insisted that they come in as early as possible because I wanted to ask them to do something but I wanted to tell them what it was without Bert being there.

“I’m sorry but I can’t tell you over the phone.”

Next morning I waited for Jackie and Derrick but unfortunately Eric and his mate, who now had a name, Warwick, came in at the same time. I would have to trust that Jackie could read between the lines. I lay there listening to all their platitudes and started to show signs of being irritable and worried.

“What’s the matter, John?” Jackie asked. “Would you like us all to leave so you can get some rest?”

“No, No. Please don’t go yet. I need to ask you something very important.” As I said this I caught Jackie’s eye and shook my head ever so gently. She saw it and smiled slightly.

“Jackie. I must get the hemp seeds to Australia this week. Would you take my airline ticket down to the travel agency, I’m sure there must be one in Southampton. Ask them to cash it in and use the money to buy a ticket for yourself and for Derrick and you can take the hemp seeds for me. I can get some more money for two tickets and the company will put you up in a guest house for two weeks all expenses paid.” I hoped Jackie knew what to say.

“I’m sorry John. There is no way we can go at such short notice. Derrick has just had a knee joint replaced and isn’t allowed to fly. He can’t even walk properly, let alone fly,” she said, laughing at that last little joke. “No. We would love to help, wouldn’t we Derrick? But it is just impossible.”

I lay crestfallen. I waited, but I didn’t have to wait for long.

“We  could do it for you, mate,” said Eric. “Me an’ Warwick could do it for you.”

000000——000000

That night, in my little room in the The Royal South Hants Hospital I slept comfortably and only annoyed the girls on nights a couple of times.

Chapter Twelve

The Trap is set.

When I awoke in the morning the doctor told me he would release me later in the day. In the meantime I was to stay quiet and to rest.

Jackie came in early to make sure she was clear with what she needed to do.

“Thanks for all you’ve done.” I said, and I really meant it. “You gave me some very excellent ideas.”

“No need to thank me. I’ve really enjoyed myself. Anyway, I’m going to the travel agent as soon as I leave here. Two tickets to Australia? Any particular airline? Return or one way.”

“I would prefer either Qantas or Malaysian Airways and make it with a three day stop over in K.L. If it all goes to plan we can get a refund on the return tickets.”

“OK. But why the stop over in Kuala Lumpur?”

“An important element in your brilliant ‘Blackmail’ idea. To scare the hell out of ’em. By the way did you get the full and correct names and the right details for the two Muppets?”

“Yes. I told them to wait and you would ring them when you have the tickets. I should be back in an hour.”

She was good to her word, I rang the Muppets and they came in for their tickets. I told them about the stopover in K.L. and Warwick walked straight into a trap I didn’t need to set.

“I bloody well hate the tropics. I was with the Brit Army Training unit in Belize in 1992 and I used to get prickly heat badly. Specially on my inner thighs.”

“Where’s Belize?” That was Bert asking.

“Central America. Used to be called British Honduras. I hated that place. Do we really have to stop in Malaysia?”

“Yes Warwick, I’m afraid we do. The seeds need to be exposed to moist heat for two days,” I said, lying through my teeth. “But I’ll tell you what. I’ve spent a lot of time there in Malaysia and we always used to use Australian Army Issue prickly heat talcum powder. Worked like a charm. I’ve got some here. I keep it in my toiletry bag all the time. Never go anywhere without it.”

I reached into the little drawer in the table next to me and took out the powder. He smiled and thanked me profusely. Little did he know I was handing him a oneway ticket to gaol.

The doctor had allowed me to get up but only into a wheel chair.

“Listen Bert I’ve asked Jackie to bring the hemp seeds in later, so if you can come back I’ll give you what you need and a few instructions.”

“How do you know Jackie?’ Bert asked. “I just wondered.”

“I don’t know her, actually.” I lied again. “She was just the first person I met when I went to the Gardeners’ Club and we seemed to hit it off. I had been in touch with her husband, Derrick, years earlier about completely different stuff and I didn’t even know he was married, so it was a bit of a surprise.”

They left. Jackie came in an hour later. I rang Bert. He came in. I gave him his oneway ticket to gaol with all sorts of stupid and useless instructions about caring for them. I asked him to wheel me down stairs so I could have a smoke. It was the first cigarette I’d had in fifteen years and I was glad he left as quickly as he did. But I just wanted to re-enforce the idea that I was an invalid.

I was discharged from hospital. Jackie and Derrick came and picked me up and took me for a drive through the New Forest. I bought them the best meal I could and included an Australian Merlot, Cranswick Estate from the Barossa Valley that I found find in a shop in Southampton.

I really could not thank Jackie enough. I could never have done the job without her help.

I made another phone call to Australia. Everything was in place.

All I wanted to do now, was to say goodbye to Fiona and Kenneth, tell them that there was still a lot that needed to happen but that I believed they would see their mother soon.

Now it was in the hands of other people. My part of the job was finished. I could go home.

 

 

Part Two

The end of the affair.

Chapter Thirteen,

A Red Letter Day..

On a dark and overcast day about one week later, a Malaysia Airlines 747-400 took off from Heathrow, London, on its way to Australia. It had one stop to make in Kuala Lumpur. On board were two men, both a little over middle age – how old they were is not at all relevant but it is hoped that they have at least ten or twenty years left in them. These two ‘gentlemen’ – for want of a more exact term – were seated on the righthand side of the ‘plane in seats 60J and 60K. These were economy class seats, in a row of three. There was room for them to stretch their legs although the seats do front a bulkhead and are near the galley.

In the third seat, 60H – there is no seat 60 I probably because that may confuse someone who was looking for seat 601 which does not exist – there was a rather large silent gentleman who seemed to be asleep already. The two gentlemen in seats 60J and 60K, who may be referred to from now on as the Muppets, had looks of great enjoyment and happiness on their faces. Anybody who knows the story of who they were, will be wondering just how long this feeling of joy and happiness will last.

The gentleman in seat 60H was pretty sure they had about an hour of happiness to go. He planned on sleeping for that hour. After that he would wake up and have a little chat with the Muppets. He stretched his feet out so that if one or t’other of the Muppets wanted to move they would need to step over him. He wasn’t really and truly asleep. In fact he was really and truly awake with the exception that his eyes were shut and he was snoring rather in the way that a bulldog snores. In another fact he was being just a little bit annoying.

The hour rolled by and the man in 60H jolted awake.

“Has the girlie with the drinks gone by yet? I could do with a beer.”

“Yes, but if you like I will press the call button and get her to come back,” said the man in the next seat.

“Thank you, but I just might have a button here myself.” The hostess came with the drinks trolley and the man in 60H ordered a beer. “And may I buy one for you two fellows as well?” he asked. He was a man who could pretend bob homie with the best of people.

A gentle wave of said bon homie wafted over the three men. They chatted as people do in these circumstances about wives and jobs and children and destinations and where home was and whether one was going away from home or going toward home.

And then suddenly, and completely apropos of nothing at all, the man in seat 60H put his hand inside his coat pocket and withdrew two envelopes. “Now this one,” he said, “is addressed to Warwick. And that would be you, I assume,” as he handed the envelope to the man in 60J. “And therefore this one is for you, Albert. Or may I call you Bert.”

“How the hell do you know our names?”

“Oh I know a lot about you. About both of you. Now just shut up for a while and read your letters. You don’t need to tell me what’s in them. I’ve got my own copy.” He opened a folder that he took from a small document file.

To each of you,

I have given you a parcel of seeds which you believe are industrial hemp seeds. They are in fact marijuana seeds. A very special variety that contains a very high level of tetrahydrocannabinol which is usually referred to as THC. The parcel also contains a white powder which you both will now probably guess is cocaine.

When the plane arrives at Tullamarine you will be arrested and almost certainly be sent to prison for a number of years…………..

At about this time the Muppets had stopped and turned to the man in 60H who had not offered his name.

“What the bloody hell is this all about,” screamed Bert.

“Just keep reading. It is all explained in the letter.” Bert stood up and attempted to step to the aisle but he was pushed down forcefully. “And I want both of you to put your seat belts on or I will get very cross.”

“And what if we don’t,” Warwick said.

“I have a needle here that will put you to sleep and the Captain of this aeroplane knows exactly what is going on. I advise you to read the rest of the letter. We have about eleven and a half hours to go before we get to KL and time is running out.”

…………The gentleman who gave you this letter is an officer of the Australian Border Force. He is Superintendent Michael James. Do not address him as ‘Superintendent’ and don’t call him Mick. His name is Michael. Michael has the authority to arrest you, handcuff you and embarrass you in front of all the other passengers on the ‘plane. 

You will eventually be arrested. Do not doubt that. You will not be able to claim entrapment.

I am sure that you will recall that you both offered to take the ‘hemp seeds’ to Australia. Nobody asked you. You offered. That was not entrapment.

What you must do is this. When you get to Melbourne and the Customs people find the marijuana seeds you will plead guilty. This will probably help you when it comes to sentencing.

But most importantly you must, and I repeat MUST, you must explain that you two placed drugs in the luggage of a certain lady, whom you only know as Emily. She knew nothing about that. It was ALL your fault. If you are honest and sincere the judge might also take that into account. 

By now your flight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia will have about eleven hours to go. If you do not agree to admit your role in causing the woman, Emily, to be incarcerated for something that you did then it is suggested that you ask Michael. He is authorised to tell you all the rest.

It is in your best interests to do as we suggest.

Sincerely,

The person you know as John.

“Stay exactly where you are,” said Michael. “I will go for a small wander up and down the ‘plane. I will keep my eye on you. If you want to know what your options are then I will tell you after you have had a chance to discuss it.”

Michael got up and went for a ‘small wander’.

 

Chapter Fourteen,

Welcome to KL…

Michael returned to two very angry men.

“Right Mick, Michael, Commander, Constable or whatever the bloody hell you want to be called. This is bloody entrapment. We get charged and we explain it all. That bastard John trapped us with an almighty con job. And we can prove it. Yes, I offered to take the stuff. But I didn’t know. I know the law. To be guilty you have to know what you were doing and know that what you were doin’ is wrong.”

“No, mate,” said Michael. “What you just spouted forth is the McNaughton test for insanity. Look around the world. The Bali nine were convicted and the court didn’t ask them if they knew they had the stuff in the bags. It happens everywhere.”

“Maybe. But not in Australia.”

Warwick interrupted. “Well I can’t be done for drugs anyway. It’s only Bert. I haven’t got anything on me. Not even a packet of ciggies.”

“Can I ask you something, Warwick?’ asked Michael. “How’s your heat rash at the moment? I hope you haven’t powdered your ‘groinal’ regions too heavily with Prickly Heat Powder. You’ll look a bit of a dill with all the sniffer dogs jumping up and sniffing at your crotch.”

“You are joking, mate. Aren’t you?”

“No man. That is a very expensive can of talcum powder.”

“Whatever,” said Bert. “It’s still entrapment. So I reckon we’ll just take our chances with the court.”

The Border Force Commander said nothing for a while. He sat and looked for all intents and purposes as one who has lost the fight.

“Well lads, if that is your final decision!  I will give you a chance to change your mind. If that is it then I am very sorry for you. You have only a few more hours and it will be all over.”

“Yeah. Right. An’ what’s that s’posed to mean, big-shot Federal cop?”

“Let me explain in very simple words. You are not on a London to Australia direct flight. This aeroplane stops at Kuala Lumpur in the country of Malaysia. Your ticket is for a two day stop over. That means that we, and I will come with you, are going to have to go through the customs gates at KL. And after the dogs have finished spoiling Warwick’s manhood they will find all your marijuana seeds and both of you will be charged and tried and found guilty.

And do you know what the Malaysian courts are like? I’ve got a couple of pieces of paper here that you might like to read.  No! OK I’ll read them to you.

Under section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act, those in possession of 200 gm or more cannabis; and 40 gm or more cocaine will receive the mandatory sentence of death by hanging.

Now Warwick! The Prickly heat powder you have in your locker is “Snake Brand” and is 300 grammes. You can get your bag out of the overhead locker if you wish and have a look, but it isn’t necessary because I know.”

Warwick shook his head and stayed sitting down.

“Now Warwick, if your can has more than 1/8 cocaine mixed in it, and if the Malaysian authorities find it you run the risk of the mandatory sentence of death by hanging. I’m not sure if you want to run the risk.

Bert. Your turn. You are carrying half a kilo of seeds. Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Some of those seeds are actually industrial hemp seeds and some are actually marijuana seeds. And I wasn’t told what the proportion was. But if there is just a bit less than half marijuana, then you are as good as dead, mate. Do you want to run the risk? I’ll go for a walk and let you think about it. We are about five hours out of KL so we are running to a bit of a deadline. ‘Deadline’! Sorry about that but you get my point.”

The Muppets talked it over for a good half hour. They decided to agree with the proposition. They also decided between themselves that when they got to Melbourne they would deny everything. They felt reasonably confident that they would beat any charges laid against them. But there was more to come.

Michael came back and they told him that they had agreed. They had nowhere to go.

“Well that is good boys. We won’t get off at KL. We’ll stay on the ‘plane so no sticky nosed Malaysian Drug cops get to look at your luggage.

But there is one more thing. In my folder here I have two more documents.

They are Statutory Declarations. They have you stating that you set up the woman known as Emily Ida Johnston. That you hid drugs in her luggage with every intention of having them taken into Australia. You further state that she had no knowledge of these matters. You are truly sorry and ask that the Australian authorities release her. You will plead guilty and take what ever punishment is deemed fit. Then there is a little legal mumbo jumbo that just has the effect of making it all legal. Is that all OK boys? I’ll let you think about it. Don’t forget the dead line. But if you don’t want to sign it then we’ll hop off at KL and have a little holiday.”

The Muppets talked about it for about twenty seven and a half seconds.

“Alright. We’ll sign. But is it legal?”

“Yes it is legal. And to make doubly sure I have arranged for the Captain of this aeroplane to witness the signatures. He is a registered international notary.”

Michael then pressed the button on his seat and when the hostess came he handed her a small note and asked her to take it to the captain. About ten minutes later the captain arrived and the documents were duly signed.

 

Chapter Fifteen,

The best of things, The worst of things.

Email to Fi,

cc Ken, Jackie.

Dear Fi and Dear Ken,

Since my phone call the other day with the good news about your mother I thought you would like to read a transcript of a news article that appeared in a Melbourne edition of “The Age” newspaper. It is quite brief but says it all.

‘Today in a Melbourne Courtroom the fate of two English drug smugglers was revealed. The two men were convicted of attempting to smuggle drugs into the country but were foiled by the excellent work of an Australian Border Force officer. For security reasons his name has been withheld. 

Furthermore, these two men were convicted of attempting to smuggle drugs into Australia by using an un-named woman who was convicted of drug smuggling but has since been pardoned and released. The two Englishmen voluntarily admitted that they had placed drugs into the woman’s luggage without her knowledge or consent. 

The judge said he was impressed by their belated honesty and had taken that into account when sentencing. However he was not convinced enough to reduce their sentence. Tricking someone into carrying drugs was something that could never be justified. 

The two men will serve out the remainder of the woman’s sentence together with an extra three years for the pain and suffering that they had inflicted upon her.’

I hope you two don’t feel too conflicted by the judges comment in the second last paragraph of the report. For my part it will cost me not one second of lost sleep.

Finally I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Jackie, for all your help, your advice and your support. I hope that I can repay you should you ever have the good sense to visit Australia.

Yours Sincerely

John.