Conned, darnit…

Currently appearing in Southwark Crown Court in London is a truck driver from these parts and two accomplices  who attempted to sell The Ritz Hotel in London for £250 million to a person who, despite running a very successful London property portfolio, can best be described as “an idiot”.

Having convinced a broker that they really did have permission to act on behalf of the reclusive owners of The Ritz they went on to extract £1 million as a non-refundable deposit in return for 27 boxes of documents relating to the sale, which surprisingly never appeared – The Ritz was valued at between £450 and £600 million at the time.

Its easy to point and laugh at the suckers who undoubtedly are born every minute, I mean, if a truck driver offered me The Ritz at a bargain knock-down price then I’m sure I’d blithely hand him one million of my pounds “as a deposit” in return for nothing at all, as I’m sure you would too.

But point and laugh not, for I too have been conned in my time.

Not on such a great scale it has to be said.

It was for £4 actually, but still, its not the amount that counts – try telling that to the man who’s London property portfolio is negligent to the tune of £1 million right now though.

It was just a couple of years ago, I’m not bitter though, oh no, its like I’ve almost forgotten about it, you know me, carefree, nonchalant, nary a worry, four fookin pounds she conned out of me, what a cow-bag.

eBay, that cursed site, the only place that shows car boot sales in a good light, she advertised on eBay, in the plants and flowers section, I was remodelling my extensive garden on this property, on the cheap, using eBay for my horticultural needs, I bought a eucalyptus tree for a tenner or so, its fekkin huge now, I have to trim it twice a year, want to send it back to its seller actually, he never told me it would grow like Jacks Beanstalk did.

I bought two Japanese Acer’s, they are growing nicely now although I realise they are in the wrong place and I daren’t move them so they’ll need pruning every year too – this was supposed to be a low maintenance garden, I should have bought fifty cubic yards of concrete on eBay really – I can say that with hindsight.

I bought a strange black shrub that grew like buggery the first year I planted it, had to prune that one with a viciousness that the Nazi Party would have appreciated, its grown back though and has strange black leaves that look remarkably like a cannabis plant – lets just pretend I didn’t just type that shall we … and move on…

All of these plants came from eBay, I bought a clematis and a honeysuckle plant that I thought might climb all over the ugly side wall of the garage after a few years – in their first month they had covered a quarter of the garage and now two years later they cover it and I have to prune them buggers too, this low maintenance garden…

And then, buoyed by my very succesful eBay horticultural purchases I splashed out and bought some ornamental grasses to plant behind my raised pond on the decking, a nice backdrop I thought, some ornamental grass – I found a horticulturist on eBay from Scotland who was selling young ornamental grass plants at £2 for six, and so I ordered two lots, four pound it cost me, four pound, and foolishly, like a gullible idiot who would buy The Ritz from a truck driver, I paid up front, and sat and waited.

Now I will say this about my previous horticultural purchases from eBay, they had come well packaged, as you would expect for live plants – even the eucalyptus tree came well packaged and oh how I laughed to see Postman Plod stagger up the drive that day with my tree – sending trees by Royal Mail, such hilarity, he delivered it after his normal round in his Fiat Panda, the buffoon.

So I sat and waited for my well packaged dozen ornamental grass plants to arrive, and they didn’t for a long time, until one day I came home from work to find that someone had shoved an old damp newspaper through our letterbox.

On closer examination it wasn’t just an old damp newspaper, it was an old damp Scottish newspaper, and it was sellotaped together, in short this was my parcel of one dozen ornamental grass cuttings, simply wrapped up in newspaper, sellotaped up and a postage label stuck on the paper – this was mail order taken to the extreme – posting trees is one thing but posting grass wrapped in newspaper is just daft now I think it through properly.

I eagerly unwrapped my purchase to find what I can only describe as one dozen short twigs.

Just twigs, no roots, no leaf bit, just twigs, the sort of twigs where if you were walking through a park in autumn and you kicked at a pile of twigs you’d say “theres a lot of twigs around this autumn”, those sort of twigs.

Four fookin pounds for a bundle of twigs wrapped in newspaper.

So of course I planted them, it was either that or burn them, I planted them behind the pond and sat inside the house all winter waiting for them to erupt the following spring into the most glorious ornamental grasses you have ever seen, but when I walked across my extensive property the following spring I found twelve twigs stuck in the ground.

So I watered them, fed them Baby Bio, I talked to them every day, coaxing them out of their hibernation, convinced that unseen by human eyes, beneath the ground they would be sprouting roots and ready to burst into the most wonderful of ornamental grasses.


Bugger-all happened to them that year, so I left them over winter, a small patch of bare ground that I had meticulously weeded all through the summer so that my wonderful ornamental grasses would not be choked, I left them all winter and the following spring…

Nothing again, they simply refused to budge, my patch of meticulously cultivated ground held twelve twigs stuck stubbornly upright, and people started to talk – “You’re mad” is one of the things they said, “Why are you trying to grow twigs?” is another thing, “Burn the fookers” said Steve, but I expected him to say that, he’d burn his granny on the chiminea if he thought she’d last all night long.

And so I tentatively pulled one of the twigs out of the soil to examine its extensive root ball which must surely be in evidence now after two years of establishing itself in my garden – nothing.

It was still a twig.

I pulled them all out of the ground, nothing, four fookin quid I spent on those twigs, and thats all they turned out to be, twigs.

So they went on the chiminea.

Its the last time I get conned I’m telling you.

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