Aled Jones

 I got back from our latest job yesterday.  Before we went I had hoped to be back a few days ago but something cropped up as is the way.

My pal has not had a chance to sort out pictures for the self defence stuff so we will look at that over the the Christmas holidays.

Actually our job went much better than expected from our point of view.  I am not entirely sure they would feel the same way.  We were in quick, quiet,  fast and hard and then out again.  This meant that we were left trying to get back to the UK ahead of schedule.  It was proving to be trickier than you would think,  when I got a phone call from Cyclops. He told me that he had had sister Marie (the French nun who runs the children’s home where Joseph is in Mozambique) on the phone saying “she had had rats coming to the  home”.

Tres odd indeed, why would she ring us about rats?

Despite the communications problem I eventually got through and she was very business like, which was odd because she is normally very friendly and full of life and joy and I got the impression sho could not talk freely.  There were two rats, one black and one white and they had been to the orphanage and had been making a nuisance of themselves

The rats had been interested in one individual only and that was Joseph.  Sister Marie knew that the black rat was not a local and the white rat was English.  She did not like either and had blocked them and arranged for Joseph to be moved, however she was concerned that the rats would find out very quickly where he was.

On hearing the news the team plan was changed unanimously and we redirect to  M, which turned out to be a hell of a lot easier than getting back to the UK.

16 hours later  we were there.  Tired, dirty, smelly, and seriously fucked off and I mean seriously fucked off.  However, it was a good sign that we had managed to get some hire cars sorted at short notice, even if they were what you might call an odd  mix.  A Mazda 4×4 pickup,  two Kia picantos, and a bloody awful Kia minibus thing.  Still cars are cars.

Sister Marie is a one of those people who restores your faith in human nature.  I look at her and people like her and marvel at their courage and tenacity at trying to cope in the face of a tidal wave of human misery.  She welcomed us, but was clearly distressed at the unwanted intrusion by the two rats and what I couldn’t understand was why such a strong old bird as her would be so rattled.

I asked the question and she looked back at me very seriously and eventually said “I think he is one of Mugabe’s men.  He is not from here, because he speaks very poor Portuguese. He is posing as a driver and always wears a jacket because he carries a gun- left side.  He has the look…” she tailed off an looked at us “Do not be offended Monsieur Norman, but like you and you friends”

“No offence taken I know what you mean”

She  smiled ” The white man is English and carries an expensive camera and has been asking lots of questions of the children.  He was giving sweets and tried ot bribe one of the cooks who works here.  Then they came in and he was asking questions about our work and where the children came from.  The black said did we have children form Zimbabwe becaue if we did they should go back if they did not have papers.  I said I did not know what he was talking about.  Alors, they went away and then came back again two days ago and had photo of Joseph.  I said he was not here and the English man said he was a friend of yours and that he had photgraphed Joseph here. It was clear they did not know you and I told them that I heard you were dead and that Joseph had left and was not here anymore and I didn’t know where he was.  That caused them some confusion and they left but said they would be back.”

“Do you know where Joseph is?”

“No Monsieur Norman, I had spoken to Monsieur Cyclops and he had got somebody to pick Jospeh up for a few days.  An old friend who works at your embassy, but I do not know his name or where he is Monsieur Cyclops said if I din’t know I couldn’t tell”

“How do you know he was the our man” I asked

She smiled because we had a code he gave me this DVD and wished me “Happy Christmas” She picked up a copy of the Snowman.

“Different, but I think we can take it that our boy is safe”

“They will be back again soon I think” she said.   I had a feeling she was right.

Time for a quick briefing and to knock some sort of plan together.  Initially we thought about having two mobile obo teams (2 blokes per car) who would follow the two rats and house them which would give us some background on our targets.  Then BF pointed out that really we didn’t need background  we were making life more complicated than it need to be.  As he said ” These fuckers are well out of order so lets cut the crap.  Pick them up here at the orphanage and remove them somewhere discreet and quiet for a cosy festive chat.”

I had a feeling that BFs idea of a festive chat would definitely get him on Santa’s naughty list.  He was right of course.

I went back to see sister Marie and we decided that the children would be moved to a nearby church for the day under the pretence that we were builders doing essential work.  As it was there was a fair few maintenance jobs to be done.   It was decided that BF, Bob Geordie and myself would work around the office where our visitors were likely to turn up and the others would get stuck into mending roofs, plumbing and other DIY joys.

To be honest it was good to be doing something as a team that was positive for the human race and the mood lifted despite the hard work, fatigue and heat.  It was about 35c but it felt hotter and stormy.

At 3pm a VW passat pulled into the yard in front of the office.  Hot dust filled the air and two men got out.  The driver was a big black fella and Sister Marie was right about him. Hi hand went to his gun as he got out of the car and he was looking all around him.  However there is no point looking if you cannot see and he did not take in the builders, even though the sight of a load of white mnen working on a roof in this knech of the woods was as rare as rocking horse shit.  Idiot.

The white bloke was about 40, and had the look of a man who lives in the city.  He was wearing Rohan clothes to show the world he was a serioyus traveller.  They might be impressed in Fulhan, Chelsea and Heathrow, but not here.

As arranged Sister Marie remained inside and BF and Bob approached them from the office where they had been mending a wonky bench.  Myself and Geordie came from behind them.  BF moved in on the black fella who was suddenly seemed aware that something was not as it should be and his hand was back towards his gun.  Too little too late.  BFs right hand shot out and up in a chin jab.  The palm of his hand struck the drivers throat and the rest of hand pushed forward and up into he jaw  and  his head shot back taking his weight over his heels.  He went down flat on his back like a sack of spuds.  I think the kick ploughed into his face before he had actually hit the dirt, but either way this was one geezer who was not getting up to carry on fighting.  Geordie was in on him kneeling on the side of his head with his full weight  which would prevent him doing much if he had been capable of doing anything. He was relieved of his gun and secured.

The white bloke jolted at the quick attack and actually let out a little squeak.  Bobs scythe kick caught him just behind the knees, his legs buckled and he went head first to the floor with his arms out stretched in a hopeless attempt to either fly or break his fall.  The second kick caused his head to look like a football.

Both men were disabled and secured before they could say yo ho ho.

They were dragged to their passatt and the driver was dumped in to the boot and the other bloke was bundled into the back because we wanted a chat whilst we relaocated them.  We left the two little Kias but took our  pickup and mini bus and headed out of town.

It was a hot uncomfortable day for a drive, but it took bloody ages before we found a suitable location for our final chat.

To cut a long story short our English friend was a journalist.  He had read about Joseph on this blog and thought it would be a good idea to find him and do a piece on him.

He recruited an individual as a driver, who being from Zimbabwe said he could verify the authenticitry of Josephs story.  Our journalist friend either didn’t think ordidn’t  care about just how this person could or would do that in a country where only those connected to president Bob got access to such information.

No he was a journalist after a story and he didn’t give a shit about the aftermath of what he was doing or who got hurt as a result.

Having listened to the journalists high handed moral arguement that he was after all only doing his job and it was not his fault if in the search for the truth and his story if people got hurt.

We could see his point, we understood and then explained that we too were only doing our job.

Hurt is a very personal thing,  and when it is you that is suffering, well you can be forgiven for not quite seeing it in such a detached way. As I said like the journalist we had a job to do which was to protect our little boy and in doing so people would get hurt in this case it was going to be  him and his thug buddy.

I feel optimistic that the man from Harare will never pose threat to our little lad again, well not in this life anyway.

As for the Journalist, well he will get over it, although he had a long walk back to town as his car had gone on fire and I have no doubt the walk would not be too pleasant with no snappy clothes, shoes and sore feet.

We got back to the home and saw sister Marie.  She asked no questions we told no lies expect to make sure Joseph was OK.  An hour or so later all the kids were back and we saw out boy.  He has grown and is full of life and energy and his new teeth look good.

That evening we sat down with these kids and watched The Snowman.  They sat and watched with wide eyes and open mouths at something they are never likely to see or experience, but they are children and gthe human being can imagine and escape from wherever it finds itself trapped.  At the end of the film they stood up and clapped and cheered and then went running round with their arms outstretched pretending to be snowmen.

The next day we finished our jobs and it would soon be time to leave.  Just before we were due to go I was called into the office by Sister Marie.  Joseph was there.

“Go on Joseph” said sister Marie.

Joseph looked down at the floor.

“Hey up son what’s the problem” I asked

He looked at me and said “Mister Norman” he blurted “Would you be my father please, not my real father I know he is dead and that he is in heaven and looks down on me and makes sure I am all right, but my father on Earth until you know we see each other again.”

“Joseph I would be honoured to be your father” His serious little face split into a huge smile and he jumped up with his arms in the air. I picked him up and held him to me and his wooly head rested on my should and nestled against my face.

We spent the rest of the day doing dad and son things  and it was the best Christmas present I could have been given.  We did what seems like loads of stuff,  which even included being chased by a rather mangy looking dog, but In wont bore you with that except to say the boy laughed like a drain.

And then it was time to go.  I said good bye to sister Marie and then Joseph he gave me a big hug and I gave him a kiss on his forehead.  He rubbed it and said “That felt nice” and then took my face in his hand and bent my head down towards him and kissed my forehead.

“See you soon son” I said

“Ok father”

“You can call me dad if you like”

He looked thoughtful then smiled “OK dad”

The children lined up to wave us off and just as we were about to go they all held hands and started singing the tune of the snowman or at least their version of it.

The best gifts dont need wrapping paper or ribbons.

And Jeff, should you ever try this again we will not be so understanding next time.  Nice house by the way and I hope you like the card and your kids enjoy watching the DVD as much as they did.

Happy Christmas everyone.

6 Responses to “Aled Jones”

  1. JH says:

    Happy Christmas Norm glad to hear you back safe and sound.

    I will watch the snowman tomorrow with my kids and think of Joseph.

  2. Bendy Girl says:

    Happy Christmas UN and Happy Christmas Joseph. Be safe. BG x

  3. dl says:

    I remember when you introduced us to Joseph quite some time ago, and thinking at the time how indestructible the human spirit can be.

    We’ve had this reinforced to us just recently, since our household has suddenly grown, to include two Afghan boys. These kids have endured some horrendous experiences at home (it seems that, in the wilds of Afghanistan, no-one has actually told the Taliban that they were removed from power 7 years ago) and even more horrendous experiences on their journeys from there to here, having left their families behind for ever. Yet you would never guess all this from their gentle and gracious disposition. From life-or-death situations, their most difficult decisions are now along the lines of one sugar or two, and they’re sitting in classrooms alongside kids for whom a grazed knee might be the worst strife imaginable. It must seem so strange!

    Anyway, thanks for another fascinating episode.

    And…
    …Happy Christmas!

    D.

  4. Des says:

    I just found your blog a few weeks ago (a Yank searching for “pikeys”, imagine that) and am only through 12/08 of your archive, but this entry just took my breath away. I gather you aren’t much on religion, rightfully so, but you demonstrate the real essence of what the human spirit was intended to be, and that is a love and respect for your fellow man, whoever that may be…as long as they deserve it. ‘Ard man notwithstanding, you are a joy to read, even if I do have to brush up on my brit terminology. 🙂

  5. Uncle says:

    Des – glad to have you on board. Thank you for your comments and hope you can stick with the Brit terminology. If in doubt ask. I had a trip to the states recently to see some young men who had been injured on active service. We had a laugh comparing not just technical terms and slang but everyday phrases.

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