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Meet The Neighbours

Tonight I was invited over to dinner by my neighbours in the boat next door to me, something ordinarily yachtie, but which hasn't happened for a very long time. After all the usual sailing talk finally died down, it turned out that one of them had been a producer for the BBC before he'd retired - they'd once spent 3 years making 13 hours of a documentary on Japan - and the other was a barrister.

One of the guys he'd represented - Mr A, was sitting in his cell eating steak and drinking port when he first met him. He'd painted a portrait of the prison governor's daughter, and since then prison life had been much more bearable. Once, long ago, he'd stolen jewellery from girls at a dance and had been arrested. As he was sent down for the crime the magistrate told him how he'd ruined a very special night for those girls and how they would be upset about it for years to come. Hence, he decided to only steal from very rich people from then on. He would break into a big house and, being an expert in art and antiques, steal an expensive painting and move the other paintings around to cover it up. Only months later would the occupants finally notice that one of their paintings were missing. One day he was arrested for possessing amphetamines - he'd been used to buying them from the chemist years before when they were still legal and didn't think it was against the law, but the police came back to search his house. The house, naturally, turned out to be packed full of antiques. They looked around rooms that were packed like antique stores, then walked over to Mr A's girlfriend who was lying on a chaise-lounge to ask where he was. She said that he'd gone to the bathroom. They knocked on the door, but there was no answer, so they broke it down. Inside was part of a bottle of Creme de Menthe, Mr A's favourite drink, and an open window with the curtains blowing in the wind. Mr A had left the building.

So, the police tailed his girlfriend for a week until finally she led them to Mr A and a car full of freshly stolen silver with half a bottle of Creme de Menthe in it. Mr A, however, never turned up in court on the day of the trial. It was only much later that he was arrested in an amphetamine factory in Essex from where he'd been watching the whole trial's progress.

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