Dancing to a New Beat 11

We spent two weeks on the initial aspects of Meadowcroft, and while we were not precisely surprised at what came out from under a Bradford stone the team’s reaction was a revelation.

Reality had descended on us in a big way after the whirlwind of our original tasking, for the police drama depiction of dedicated sleuthing is utter rubbish. We don’t spend months on one case, patiently sifting evidence before moving to a conclusion, but rather take on a job, a case. Then another. And another.

Dancing to a New Beat 10

We spent an hour or so with the others, Inspector Weir excusing himself after a few minutes, and I was pleased to see the mood lifting as the biscuits, and a couple of plates of muffins, vanished. Three older men chatted comfortably to one side while the Elliott family gradually moved from Stevie’s slow boil to Jon’s star-struck questions about a retired footballer. I ended up chatting to Stevie’s son, who seemed remarkably grounded.

He grinned at me when I commented on his calm, and after a wave at his dad’s chest, pointed out that being adaptable was a bit of a necessity.

Dancing to a New Beat 9

“Good morning, Mr Cooper. I am Detective Constable Owens, and this is my colleague DC Philips. We will be conducting an interview, and it will be recorded on tape. I believe you are familiar with the process”

He sat opposite us with the duty brief, and my first thought on seeing him had been ‘used up’.

Dancing to a New Beat 8

Jon and I took more than five hours to get to Carlisle, the journey including a change at Crewe. I had heard that name so many times, including in music-hall songs, and I was expecting something a little better than what we found. A mix of old train carriages sparked some interest as we came in, but the reality was simply a large warehouse affair with a lot of glass in the upper parts. It was well-kept, the correct spot to wait for our reserved places was marked on the platform and there were places to grab a snack, but we had to wait over thirty minutes before our connection, and it dragged. There were a large number of bricks in the wall the other side of the tracks, and I am sure I counted them all.

Dancing to a New Beat 7

That first chapter was painful to read, but it had a style that drew both of us in; either Paula had real talent or she was being helped by someone else who did. The more I read, however, the more I heard her voice speaking the words. The structure was another thing, where she introduced herself in a short descriptive passage about looking for trade on a miserable February evening in a shitty part of Cardiff, before cutting to a typical school day, and then…

Dancing to a New Beat 6

I was called into the Super’s office two weeks later, and as I had expected Bev had Sedgewick and Weir with him. There was the usual ritual of greeting and coffee before I was asked to deliver my updates.

“Rather a lot of the former residents are no longer with us, gents. Ion and I have managed to speak to nine survivors, and I am sorry to say that six of them are not willing to cooperate”

The Job on sale

The Job is now going through Amazon's machinery and will be available in the next couple of days, assuming all goes right. It can be found by searching on Amazon (using the BCTS links) under Sussex border stories. Clicking on my author name once there (S.A.A. Calvert) brings up my author page with the rest of my books.

Dancing to a New Beat 5

Once more, the pattern of my days was set by lists, names and club numbers, as we called criminal records. As with one nightmare of a prison visit, the pattern of offending seemed to be clear, just--- thankfully--- nowhere near as extreme. It fell into particular areas of social failure, and they all clung to the coat tails of self-destruction and lack of any sense of self-worth. Addictions of various kinds, steady theft and criminal damage habits seeming to be as much of a compulsion as drugs or alcohol.

Dancing to a New Beat 4

I lay with Blake that night, more at ease than I had been for years. So many of my worries had been eased by the trials, and now I saw an old friend happy and safe, and so clearly loved and in love. I mumbled into my husband’s chest without realising it, and he simply hugged me closer to him as Fritz rumbled from the top of my pillow.

“We need to report properly to Lainey, love”

“I texted her, sent a picture, yeah?”

Dancing to a New Beat 3

My life was painful for the next week, just for starters, and of all people Candice was the worst.

“Di. Love, I’ll be around, don’t worry. There are some lessons you’ll need to get sorted before you can get back to work properly, isn’t it? Now, we’ll start with this”

She held up a ballpoint from our stationery cupboard.

“This is called a ‘pen’. You use it for writing, and this is the end that makes marks—Ow!”

Dancing to a New Beat 2

Dad, of course, was the one who gave us a hand moving, after we finally found a suitable place up by Radyr. Blake and I were both renting, so it was Dad who helped with the deposit, Dad who helped with the fees, Dad who helped with the physical moving and so on, and Mam who ensured that we had all the little things that are always forgotten for a new home. I am embarrassed to say that the last included toilet paper. I had heard stories about people finding the only acceptable use for the Daily Mail, cutting it into squares, but just ‘no’. I mentioned that thought to my new husband, and he just laughed, pointing out that the whole purpose of toilet paper is wiping stuff off, not rubbing it on.

Dancing to a New Beat 1

That sky was so blue it hurt, but I was distracted from it by Mam’s faffing. No problem packing, none at the airport, but she was all fingers, thumbs and rambling conversation, and as those fingers held a needle I was hoping she could find her attention span extending enough to avoid me bleeding into the white of my dress.

Jobbing writer

Well, time for a decision. I was asked, quite sensibly, if that was the last chapter of The Job. It is an obvious place to end, and a scene I loved writing, but Diane still has a long way to go. So...

Do I continue writing this as one book?
Do I split it and start another book, continuing the story, as I did with 'Ride On' and 'Too Little, Too Late'?
Any sensible ideas for a title if I make the split? I have some already.

The Job 62

We did let things lie for a little while, as there was another event looming: a wedding. Candice had made the usual and expected noises about Hen Night Armageddon, with flights and matching T-shirts, and I simply told her to get stuffed. We were already down for a long-haul flight for the wedding, and I really didn’t fancy wasting any more time or money in airports. There was also the matter of the fresh meat, for while I didn’t want to leave them out of the team-building exercise (debauch) they were still ‘stranger’ enough for a holiday together to feel uncomfortable.

The Job 60

I spent quite a while thinking about that one, and especially tactics. I held no great hopes of producing a wave of new suspects, but what I did want was to see if I could close off past nightmares for other victims.

That was what had happened with me, in the end. I had spent so many years fixated on Ashley Evans and his corrupt running mates that it had poisoned everything I did. Walk down a street? Look over my shoulder. See a big BMW? Look to see who was behind the wheel. Think about entering a loving relationship with a decent and similarly loving human being?

The Job 59

I wasn’t great company for Blake that night, as my first act after getting into what was now clearly ‘our’ flat was to switch the computer on and start looking up news reports. I had half-heartedly started a search about the case that Woodruff woman had been involved in, but I hadn’t felt the need to know all of Adam’s pain back then. For some odd reason, that need was back, and it was hungry. I also wanted to see what he was dealing with right then.

The Job 58

I was back to the state of mouth Dad had commented on in the bell tower. Blake was sitting opposite me, rather than kneeling, and rather than a square box he had a little paper bag from the shop by the campsite gates, which I remembered included a jeweller’s. Apart from that, and the fact that my parents were sitting with us, it was as traditional as all hell.

My mouth, very simply, would not move in any organised way. Police, professional wasn’t working, but my mind was. From the way they were sitting, Mam and Dad must have been in on the proposal from an early stage, and I wondered if Blake had engineered the whole holiday so that it would be Venice, and therefore officially As Romantic As A Romantic Thing, before I clamped down on my racing thoughts.

Was he serious? Yes, clearly. Did I want this? My mouth took over, for it knew the answer before my mind did.

The Job 57

The water was nowhere near as warm as it had been in Cuba, but it was still delightful. The beach was clean, and both Mam and I had someone suitable for the application of sun cream. The stress of the flight, and the aftermath of the adrenalin-fuelled minibus ride, all evaporated under blue skies and on clean sand. Sparkling company that I am, I fell asleep. Dad woke me a little later.

We only spent a couple of hours there, as none of us fancied spending the whole of our holiday suffering from sunburn, so we settled back into our little chalet for a cuppa and some unpacking before setting out to explore the site.

The Job 56

I found work a little bit of an anti-climax after that, and it took me a little while to calm down. Life had been edge of the seat for so long I was finding it difficult to relax in the office. Fortunately, or not, Jon and the New Chums had been piling up the information on Mersey View’s former staff and ‘guests’, and their computer skills were well above mine. I had expected a great pile of A4 paper, and instead received two USB memory sticks.

“Staff on the red one, Diane, and inmates on the blue. Set them up as spreadsheets, so if you get into Excel and…”

The Job 55

Life settled down for a short while after that, but it wasn’t exactly ‘normal, as it had changed so much. I felt all the hackneyed effects of the trial, as so many weights that had hung on me fell to the ground and disappeared from my world. To be honest, life would have been immeasurably better even without those gifts, for I had my man.

The Job 54

I caught up with Deb in one of the little patches of green around the outside of the court, where she and Kimberley were wrapped round a sobbing Charlie, Paul, Paula and Candice not too far away, as the former high-flier-to-be puffed frantically on a cigarette, and I wondered how her addiction was treating her at that exact moment. Blake was at my shoulder.

“You’ll be thinking how lightly you got off, won’t you, love? Compared to the others?”

I reached for his hand, and it was there, along with a little of my resilience.

The Job 53

“All rise!”

Finally, our day had come. All the research on the home hadn’t stopped, for I had what Alun was calling my minions still digging away, but this day was for me and Charlie. Get this out of the way, and we’d have Tiff’s to follow. We were quite a crew, almost all of the team, including Sammy, with Deb, a girl she introduced as Kimberley, and PC Welby. The tension in the three from the house was clear, and I could see how involved Paul Welby was in his work. Another one of our sort of copper.

The Job 52

“I was never a real boy, and that didn’t go down at all well in Connah’s Quay. Not the done thing there; men are men and sheep bloody run away to England. I am babbling, aren’t I?”

“No, Deb. You tell it your way”

We had left the café, and the airlock room was cleared for us by the girls. I had sent Blake off to look at some more properties, just to get him out of the way while the older woman gave me her potted biography.

The Job 51

I won’t belittle the real pain and suffering we were told about, but it became routine after a while. I don’t mean that we got blasé, rather that each case Paul brought us went through what was becoming a very smooth and practised system.

Each one was, in the end, similar, and as the similarities piled up, so did the list of ‘further to’ charges awaiting Dai Pritchard, Bob Evans, one call-centre worker and two civilian employees in Cardiff and Swansea’s control rooms.

The Job 49

My alarm’s tone was slow to permeate my consciousness, or, to put it more simply, my body was in a state of denial. Loud buzzing? Na. I’m asleep. Staying that way. Which is why, ever since the second day of working shifts, I put the damned thing well out of reach.

The light was showing around the edges of the heavy curtains I had bought after my first set of night shifts, and I knew it was really time to get moving, but there was a bloody great arm across me.

Rewind. Blake’s arm.

The Job 48

I was home, in several different ways, including the return to my flat in Cardiff. Mam and Dad understood, just as they could see how I was healing, and why. Each day was a reminder of how the way my work is depicted on large and small screen is so completely wrong.

It isn’t boring, though it sounds like it should be, for it involves an awful lot of reading, inwardly digesting and cross-referencing. I imagined Sean’s boys felt much the same, and the closest experience I can give as an example is in solving a particularly complex cryptic crossword. Everything is there; you just need to find out why.

The Job 47

I had a week off, in the end. It had been needed, but Blake had his own life and home, and after a few days of company and warm mornings he had to leave. I realised I was getting very used to his presence, the comfort of his arms, and at the same time I had a suspicion that it was moving towards normality, and not in any sense banal. Just comfortable, appropriate, right for me.

I rattled around the old place for a couple of days before saying sod it, and one bright morning smartened myself up and drove into work. I had my flat to sort, as well, so I did need to get everything back on track.

The Job 46


The roast was a little overdone, but the roast potatoes and other trimmings were spot on. It was almost like a Christmas dinner, as after arguing on the shop about what would actually go on the plates we had simply agreed to do everything.

Dad liked it, from the way he cleared his down to the pattern on the china, so I counted it as a success. Mam cleared the dishes away, leaving them to soak, and we settled down in our usual places on armchairs and settee. Dad broke the comfort of our well-fed silence.

“You look a little out of sorts, son. What’s up?”

The Job 45

Next thing I knew, it was morning, the daylight obvious even through the heavy curtains. Mam tapped on the door of Blake’s bedroom.

“Breakfast in twenty minutes, you two. Dad’s already off to work”

I found myself blushing, even though I had done nothing but sleep. Better get up and face the music. I left him to dress, just a kiss on the cheek so he wouldn’t have my morning breath, but it was a wrench to get out of the bed and his arms.

I could really get used to it.

The Job 44

I didn’t notice, but Barry had fumbled his mobile out of his stab vest pocket.

“Yeah. Barry, Traffic, Yeah. Can you get up the greasy? I think one of yours needs taking home”

He then just sat and held me till Sammy was there, with Blake and Candice, and I wondered what had bloody happened to ‘Police, Professional’ as the team blonde walked me into the ladies’.

The Job 43

We were bright and early at the court the next day, which actually meant about nine thirty. We were down to the bare bones, just Elaine, the two of us and Alun, and wasted the morning on crosswords and an amble through the pedestrian area, avoiding the pub this time. The rest of the team were off with Sammy, something else going on, and Alun dropped a hint about picking someone up who may just have made the odd phone call to Pritchard.

At lunchtime, no verdict in sight, the two lads were gone. Lunch itself, a pasty and a cuppa, came and went, and then, finally, I got a text from the usher and we settled back into the public gallery as the jury returned.

The Job 42

I didn’t make it back to the courtroom as I spent quite a bit of time on my knees, trying to throw up my breakfast along with all the years of hate and fear. So many hackneyed images still hold truth in them, and mine was that of pushing against the locked door, which opens suddenly, and collapse is inevitable.

I could still feel his eyes on me, and the worst part of it all was that he didn’t seem to recall me immediately. I could almost read his mind: ‘Which rape was that one? Oh, yes. All coming back to me now’.

The Job 41

It got better and better as we counted down the days to the trial, and I ended up with statements from six more of the gang’s victims. Whatever the tariff said about their sentences after a guilty plea, it would end up in pieces once we were done.

Other things were better than I could ever have dreamt of, and no, I am not talking about me and a certain large man. It was Dad. He had really clicked with Blake, and I was almost feeling jealous, as the relationship was clearly mutual, and my own father seemed to be stealing time with Blake I wanted for myself.

Sod it! Life was good, not just bearable. I just wished Blake could have talked to me about the investigation.

The Job 40

It got almost routine after a while popping round the various support groups and clubs to leave cards, leaflets, posters and so on. It was the evenings that got interesting, as I encountered more and more of a world I had never really understood or, if I was truthful, suspected actually existed, despite all the times I had dabbled in it with Bridget. She was gay, in the same sense, I assumed, as was Elaine, a sort-of-straight. Both women were absolutely not into men, but in every other way they were as conventional as my parents.

The Job 39

I had texted her in advance, of course, so she was waiting in the little café down the street, still acting in that filtering, shielding role I had recognised. That said, there was real warmth in her greeting to me.

“You got news for us, girl?”

“Oh yes! Best sort. He got nicked on Friday, after we had finished the trials and stuff with the other lot”

“Oh, we saw that on the news. Not what I’m asking, is it?”

“What are you asking, Deb?”

The Job 38

I had turned up at the Crown Court for that final day, all five having eventually folded at their Plea and Direction Hearing, and as the crimes were not just indictable to the higher court but appalling in their very nature, there was no messing about with magistrates and hierarchies. We walked in, dressed in our best civilian clothes, as befitted our new (for some of us) and officially recognised status as DC rather than PC. Sammy outlined the facts of the case, four men stood up behind their publicly-funded representative and said the G-word, and the reports that had already been prepared and read by the judge were properly taken into account as he delivered ten years to each of them.

The Job 37

I must admit I have had many evenings a lot worse than that one, and very few better. By the time I got home (by way of the all-night shop for a tin of cocoa, of course) my laughter had toned itself down to smiles, but only just. Whatever Deb was doing was working. Only a few of the girls had given me any idea as to what had happened in their past, but they were all transgender and each one had been hurt,

The Job 36

Deb stood up, pulling Charlie to her feet as well.

“Di, we just need to pop next door for a few minutes. Could you please wait here? No exploring?”

I nodded.

“Good. Oh, and what were you planning to do this evening? Do you have a cat to feed, anything like that?”

“No. I was just going to go home by way of the supermarket, pick up some drinking chocolate of my own, and slob in front of the telly”

“OK. Wait there, then, I won’t be long”

The Job 35

She led the way back to the terrace, but instead of taking me to the front door she took me down the back alley between the two terraces, squeezing past a big white van, which she introduced, with a grin, as her ‘Tranny van’. I noticed that she used three keys to get through the door to the back yard, and the wall was topped with barbed wire, two cameras visible either side of an upstairs window. The actual back door was just as secure, and when we came through into the little lobby, I noticed a couple of steel bars ready to brace the door. There were also three fire extinguishers standing against the wall. I raised my eyebrows in query, and she shrugged.

“Some people don’t like us. What can you do but follow the Boy Scouts’ motto, and be prepared?”

The Job 34

The Smugglers’ was busy even on a lunchtime. I had kept it simple, in a sweat shirt and jeans rather than office smart, and I didn’t look too much out of place. I made my way to the bar.

“Diet coke, please. Slice but no ice”

“Pint? I mean, it’s not a pint, but it’s a ‘large’, and it’s close enough”

“Ye please. Is the landlord about, bar manager, whatever you have?”

“Landlord’s out the back. You got a problem, love?”

I smiled. “No, not at all. It’s a business thing”

“I’ll give him a shout. MARLENE!”

The Job 33

That was a phrase that had lived in my mind ever since two men had visited me in a hospital bed. I thought it through for a while, looking at Elaine. She didn’t let me down, and I knew then, if I hadn’t before, that she never would. The hint was taken.


“Yes, Elaine?”

“We do have another way into this one, one I am keen to follow rather than the usual way”

“You mean?”

The Job 32

I looked at him, and there were no indications as to which way he was jumping. Police, professional, woman.

“I can personally tell you more about him than I would like to know, sir, but I can’t break confidence on what my team are doing”

“Not even on my direct order?”

Breathe, Calm. "No sir. Not even on your direct order, not without the authority of the people who may or may not own the information”

The Job 31

I looked down at his hand, and then at his eyes, trying to hold my courage close and tight so that it couldn’t escape. Blake just nodded, and turned to my parents.

“Baby steps at the moment, Mark, Dot. Di’s the one in the driving seat”

That gave me something else to talk about, which I urgently needed.

The Job 30

He sat unmoving for a few seconds before reaching across to take my right hand with his left.

“Are you sure, Di? Don’t want you thinking I’m putting pressure on you. I’m not, not at all”

My insides were melting with terror, but I had made my decision. Heart, he had said, heart and soul.

“Shut up and get on with it, Blake!”

The Job 29

We settled down to sorting out more of the shitstorm of paperwork, and I caught Blake looking at me, which destroyed my concentration. I could remember everything from the night before, including the hand-holding, but I was sober now. Let it ride, DC Owens, let it slide, and he’ll do the same. Booze and stress, that’s all it was. Sammy ruined that plan.

“Di? Blake? Could you two do a run up to the greasy before we sort out the charging? I need cholesterol, and I need it now! Couple of dog rolls for me, and I’ll shout for whatever the others want”


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