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Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring so I go back to being myself
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:33 pm 
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I had an email from Pat Reid who told me about a novel that he found on line that contains a reference to our old shop in Church Street - while the first names have been changed it's certainly the shop anyway.

The novel called is Evil For Evil by James R Benn - "A Billy Boyle WW II mystery" as the book is still for sale on Amazon, here is an excerpt from the novel that mentions the shop:

Quote:
The road along the river curved to reveal Warrenpoint, a cluster of buildings around a single church steeple huddled along the waterfront. The setting sun lit the gray, heavy clouds drifting across the darkening blue sky, the last, sideways light of the day reflecting off the white buildings' gables and turrets. Fields and hills rose emerald green beyond, ascending slowly up the distant Mountains of Mourne. It took away my breath-the beauty of the land, the sun-washed cluster of homes and shops, the ebbing tide- like something I'd known all my life but never opened my eyes to. Brits and borders be damned. I had come home, home to Ireland.
I drove slowly, not wanting to miss a thing. A few pedestrians walked along a promenade, and the occasional automobile drove by in the other lane. It was quiet, the lazy kind of quiet that comes at low tide when the day's work is done and the boats are all tied up, waiting for the next tide to lift them. Small sailboats and fishing boats were moored along the quay, and ahead I saw a boat launch, a concrete roadway leading into the muck and rocks where the water had receded. A flat-bottomed boat, big enough for a large truck, sat at the end, tied to a mooring and canted at an odd angle, waiting for the tide to set her straight.
I parked the jeep next to McCabe's Market, where two Union Jacks fluttered defiantly in the quickening breeze. Mr. McCabe was evidently a proud Unionist, defining his territory at this outpost of the Ulster border. I walked across the street to the broad sidewalk that paralleled the quay. A couple of kids played along the water's edge, squawking each time their feet slid on a slippery stone and dipped into the cold water. A few people strolled by, in no great hurry. The view across the lough to Omeath was stunning, and even at low tide the water glistened with colors, greens from the fields and blue from the sky rippling across waves and currents. It was beautiful all right but I wasn't here for the view. I watched the ferry for a minute, saw no movement, and headed back to the jeep, thinking I should look for the local RUC station.
I heard the sound of boots on pavement as a column of British soldiers marched out of a side street and headed my way. The few folks out on the sidewalk didn't pay any attention but the two kids scampered up from the waterline, hooting and whistling at the twenty or so young men who trooped by, led by a gray-haired sergeant who held his head high and his back straight. They were unarmed and seemed sheepish as they worked to keep in step and not look at their young tormentors.
"Home Guard," said a voice from behind me. It came from a small, wiry man, standing in the open doorway of McCabe's Market. He wore a white apron and a pencil stub stuck out from one ear, half hidden by curly hair going gray. His sleeves were rolled up above the elbow, and from the muscles in his forearms it looked like he was used to hoisting sides of beef or sacks of flour all day. "They like wearing a uniform without the likelihood of getting it all filled with holes."
"That sounds good to me," I said.
"Sounds good to any soldier who stands a chance of facing the enemy. Like I did in the last war, and like you may in this one, Yank. But those fellas? Most of them joined up after America came into the war, when any real danger of Jerry landing here was long gone."
"Are you the owner?" I asked, pointing to the sign above his head.
"Aye. Malcolm McCabe. And you are?"
"Lieutenant Billy Boyle, Mr. McCabe." I stuck out my hand and waited to see if he'd take it. With the English flag flying from his store and a name that sounded Scots-Irish, I wondered if he'd take the hand of a Boyle.
"Pleased to meet you," he said with no hesitation. His grip was strong. "That's the rank I ended with, back in the days of the Ulster Division. Went in a private, made sergeant before we shipped out, and then once we lost most of our officers, I found myself leading a platoon in time for the Battle of the Somme. Imagine if I'd stayed home and joined the Home Guard? Wouldn't be able to live with myself."
"There's no draft in Northern Ireland, right?"
"That's right, we almost had riots in Belfast when they talked of conscription. Too many of your lot, if you don't mind me sayin' so, declared they wouldn't fight for England. And too many of my lot, and I don't mind sayin' it, didn't care to see Catholics trained and armed. Might give 'em ideas once they were done with the war, that's what they thought."
"What do you think?"
"You been in the war yet, Lieutenant?"
"I have."
"Well, I'll tell you then. There's nothing like a healthy dose of carnage to reduce your appetite for more. For any sane man, that is. I say they should have raised a few divisions of Catholics and Protestants together, never mind if they're Nationalist or Unionist, IRA or Red Hand. Put 'em together so their lives depended one upon the other. Given 'em a common enemy, let 'em kill Germans until they'd had their fill of it. Know what I mean?"
"Best plan I've heard yet."
"Ah, well, no one listens to an old shopkeeper," McCabe said, lighting a pipe and pulling on it until he was satisfied with the glow in the bowl. "What brings you here, Lieutenant? Seeing the sights?"
"I'm investigating an arms theft from the army base at Ballykinler."
"And how does that lead you to Warrenpoint?"
"That ferry," I said, pointing to the boat at the end of the ramp. "I think the truck that was used took that ferry across to the Republic."
"Sure, that could be. The MacDonald brothers run it. They can fit a good-sized lorry on it. But the RUC on our side and the customs or the Garda across the lough, they'd check the load. How many guns were taken?"
"Fifty Browning Automatic Rifles, lots of ammo."
"Well, Lieutenant Boyle, there's no way a truck loaded with that much armament went over unnoticed. They search the produce when they bring some over for my shop."
I told him the date of the theft, described Jenkins's truck, and asked him if he'd noticed anything that next morning.
"Jenkins, you say? Sure, I remember that truck. It sat parked in back all that night."
"What? Are you sure? Who drove it here?"
"Course I'm sure. Had the man's name painted along the side. Andrew Jenkins, it was. My nephew, he works for me, and he drove it onto the ferry the next morning like the fellow paid him to do."
"What fellow? What was in it?"
"Can't say. His name, that is. But I know what was in it."
"What?"
"Nothing. It was empty. This fellow had come by a few days before, saying he had to get this truck delivered to a mate over in Omeath and that he knew he'd miss the last ferry so could he leave it here and would someone just drive it onto the ferry the following morning. Said it would be worth a crown to save him staying overnight. I let Samuel have the job; he's used to driving tractors. We live above the shop so he kept an eye on it during the night."
"When did this man bring the truck?"
"Oh, I'd say maybe three o'clock in the morning. We'd arranged that he'd knock on the back door and give the key to Samuel. I heard the knock but paid it no mind. I did hear the clock strike three before I went back to sleep."
"Did he give you his name?"
"No, that was a bit odd. Said he didn't want it getting back to his boss-Jenkins, I took that to be-that he'd left the truck unattended. Said it would be better if we didn't know his name so we could truthfully say we didn't know who'd left it."
"Did you ask why anyone might come around asking?"
"Well, when you put it like that, perhaps I should have. But I saw no harm. That lorry was examined on our side and then again across the water. Clean as a whistle, it was. He even paid my boy to wipe down the dashboard, told him not to leave any smudges anywhere."
"Can you describe him?" I said, realizing that was why no fingerprints were found.
"Sure. Going bald, dark brown hair, worn a trifle long. Had a quick laugh about him, you know the kind of fellow? Puts you at your ease."
"Yeah. The kind of guy who enjoys life."
"There you go! That's him. Made me trust him straightaway. Has he done something wrong?"
"Murder. Two that I know of, not to mention stealing fifty automatic weapons for the IRA."
"Jesus! And Samuel took his money and did his bidding. He fooled me. Thanks for telling me about this, Lieutenant Boyle. That other Yank just showed me a picture."
"What other Yank?"
"The one not in uniform. I didn't get his name either. Older than you, came in on a motorcycle."
"Did you get a good look at him?"
"He came right into my shop. Bought some food, asked some questions, then showed that picture. I'd say he was a tad taller than you, bit heavier, but in good shape, maybe about forty or so. Blue eyes, I think, now that I see yours. Anyway, I said yes, I'd seen the man. I thought it had something to do with his leaving the truck, and I didn't want to get him in trouble. I'm sorry I let him make a fool of me."
"There's no way you could've known. And he might have harmed your nephew and you if you'd asked too many questions."
"Think you'll find him?"
"I intend to."
"That's what the other Yank said."


Interestingly, when asking mum about the dates when the shop was open, dad remembered a story about the shop having the first load of bananas after the war - a fruit wholesaler from Belfast called Harry Monaghan would set off early in the morning doing his deliveries, by the time he got to Warrenpoint he was usually empty but he would arrange for fresh supplies to be sent down by train and would restock in Warrenpoint that afternoon before heading off back towards Belfast on the coast road. This meant that we got the new stock fresh off the train and in one case it was a load of bananas! My great granny would then bring a few chairs outside and put a couple of old doors on them, the bananas were then placed on these and sold very quickly


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:55 am 
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Very interesting Brian, might have a look for the book when I get back home....... @-->>


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:31 pm 
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I like it apart from the few inaccuracies (the fact that you can't see the "ferry" from Church street and you would not be able to put a truck on the ferry either) and as mentioned a few name changes, but it's amazing to think that our wee shop gets a mention in a novel :D


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:19 pm 
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Brian wrote:
I like it apart from the few inaccuracies (the fact that you can't see the "ferry" from Church street

Maybe that cherry picker never left Church street!!
It is very interesting to read!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:26 pm 
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Interesting read, Brian.
Would certainly tempt one into reading
the rest of the book.

If it's your thing, there are 7 other books
in the " Billy Boyle " series to sate your
appetite.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:54 pm 
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Forgot to hit submit!!
Went into Book Depository, all out, it was only printed at the end of 2009, well the bit I looked at.
See Brian, now we want to know what happens next!!


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