Don Corleone - And Living on the M1 Trowell Services - A Tale of Loyalty & Betrayal that ripped a family apart for a fortnight - In Three Parts
PART ONE - scroll for part two
My first car was £400, a VW Beetle. Not just any VW Beetle though, this was a 1972 1302S Super Beetle. VW put a 1.6 engine into the advanced Beatle and had the first GTI. My finest hour was racing a fiat 128s-3p from the lights on Gregory Boulevard in Nottingham.
The lights turned green and I shot off from the mark, I looked left as I grabbed second and I was ahead of the fiat. Second gear played a blinder, it was playing my joker and as I snicked the precise gear leaver into third I was a half length ahead of the fastback Fiat and pulling strong.
The rest is history, and changing into fourth gear as fast as I could with all my ...nothing, fourth gear was a dissapointment.
I wanted to celebrate, afteral that was a Fiat, Fiats are Italian, fast! - and - First, Second and Third was a victory wasn't it?
My beloved super Beetle and I put that experience to good use and never raced anything if there was ever any chance of me having to use Fourth cruising gear deluxe! We became inseparable.
At the time I was working in the lace market, an area of Nottingham that was the heart of the cities clothing manufacturing.
I was actually trained over a number of years as a straight knife cutter, and the company I started working for was on a street named : The Broadway.
Very often we would have to receive a delivery of cloth, some rolls of which were very much bigger than my 17 year old slight frame.
The lift that we used to load and unload the rolls of fabric stopped on a long passage way which led to the courtyard where the lorries would park. The passage was always full of steam, always!
One lunchtime I peeked through the floor boards of the passage way which wasn't difficult ; the floor had been in a state of over disrepair since forever!
What I saw was at first Shocking! A torso, hanging by it's neck from the Joyce directly below. I spied further, collecting intel over the next few weeks.
Just as I suspected, Printers!
One Saturday I struck. Prising up one and then two of the loosely fitting ancient floorboards I reached down and cut the rope of the prisoner, well I found out he was half a prisoner. Never the less, he was mine! Before replacing the boards I left a note issuing my demands for the safe return of the limbless hung torso.
It worked. The following Monday the door bell to Joseph Cooke rang and standing confidently in the doorway was a printer. His name from memory was Roman, he had a white transit with a mattress in the back.
"I hear you got one off my boys!" he said, with his mouth full of cotton wool.
We enjoyed various custody battles with 'The Printers' until finally I took complete custody of 'Don Corleone" which we had since named the main protagonist of this tale when 'The Printers' moved premises hastily one day.
"Take good care of him." Roman said, as his white Transit avec mattress disappeared into the early evening of the Hockley nightlife.
I put Don Corleone into the passenger seat of my VW Beetle and remembering the words.."Look After", fastened the seat belt around him and set off for home...
I may or may not have made it clear enough that at the time I was 17 or 18 and still living at home. Introducing Don Corleone to the family got a very mixed reception. My Dad was indifferent, my Mum hated him with every ounce of her being, and my brother being 8 years younger than me was slightly frightened of him. Did I mention that my Mum hated Don Corleone with every ounce of her being? I told her she would have to get used to him because he was here to stay, to share our lives, to become one of the family.
Don Corleone took up residence in my bedroom on the top of the wardrobe and soon settled in. There was just enough space for him to find comfort between the ceiling & wardrobe due to his lacking in the leg department to the tune of two. (thanks Peter Cook)
For a while everything was fine, months past and Don Corleone found peace in my bedroom which if I'm honest was empty for most weekends and often a lot of the week. I would often stay with friends, strangers, Don Corleone did accompany me a few times with mixed results. ("sorry Don, you better sit this one out." I'd often say.)
The status quo was about to be shattered however, as returning from a rather heavy weekend to my loving family home I opened the car door and was met immediately by my Dad.
"Your Mum is going to strangle you!" he said, putting his hand on my shoulder. My ever loyal Dad then proceeded to tell me about my two nephews, they had stayed over due to my sister Vanetta & her husband going away for a few days to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Mathew the more sensitive of the two boys had been put in my room, a tranquil space & home from home for any very young impressionable child prone to nightmares. Unfortunately he was awoken by the rusty broken hinge on the garage door that I was so used to, and looking up saw Don Corleone who had been forgotten looking down on him...
My Dad said he'll never forget the blood curdling scream that shattered the quiet of that night. It was hours before Mathew had calmed down, and even constant reassurance that the figure he had seen was Uncle Paul's dummy 'Friend' that he had brought home from work, the poor boy couldn't bare to look at, or even have in the house the innocent misunderstood by now bewildered Don Corleone.
"Where's Don Corleone now? Is he ok? I asked Dad.
"He's In the garage," He said, "He's ok but he took a crack to his back when your Mum threw him down the stairs which might need a repair"
"The garage! He's in the garage!
"Yes," said my solemn Dad. "And he has to stay there Son, at least for a while."
I avoided Mum for a few days and Don Corleone found a new temporary home in the back of my VW which I'd put in the garage whilst I tinkered with it for the forthcoming dreaded MOT.
The following Sat I was all prepared to set about putting new disc pads on my beloved Beetle, and for easy access rolled it down the drive and into the small carpark at the bottom. The carpark was for the council flat residence and had a footpath around it which was often ignored in favour of the more direct cut across the carpark route.
Around 5 o clock after a successful day working on my car I put my tools away and went inside. I had about 4 hours more work to do the next day and so left the car where it was until the morning.
I was so tired I went to bed around 11, and Mum and Dad were not far behind. Around half past 12 I heard, we all heard what can only be described as 'A Blood Curdling Scream!' The second of the month so far.
A few minutes later the sirens started to get closer and closer. Different sirens, Police and Ambulance, there might have been a fire engine it was hard to say.
Dad opened the window and caught part of a discussion between two Policemen.
"Looks like murder Bill, the corpse is in the back of the white Beetle, it was spotted by that lady," he said, pointing at a local type sitting on the curb with her head between her knees and holding what was presumably a cup of tea with 5 sugars in.
"She's in a bit of a state."
"Shock is it?" Said Bill.
"No she's pissed!" replied his colleague, "She was on her way back from the pub."
Ten minutes later the doorbell rang. By now we knew what had happened, busy two shoes pleasantly pissed on Gin had caught sight of Don Corleone lit menacingly by the streetlight better than any Hammer production could have done, put 2 and 2 together, called the police claiming shouting bloody murder, cut up corpse and all! Well you get the idea.
My Dad started down the stairs passing my hysterical mum who was pacing franticly up and down the landing, screaming "I told you, I told you!"
"Mr Paul Hallam" said the Policeman to my Dad.
"No that's my Son he's upstairs slightly reluctant to come down. We think we know what's happened."
My Dad later recalled that the Policeman leaning in said: "We have managed to see the funny side Mr Hallam, but the ambulance men are not so amused, gearing up to handle a dismembered corpse and all that."
I got away with offering a formal apology to all concerned, that was from officialdom, my Mum's sentence would be harder to accept. Much harder.