Andy KJ Cragg

Land Registry

This is an odd letter I had transcribed by a friend. I found it amongst some of my late Aunt's things. This is the forward to it, and following sections will be uploaded as my friend transcribes them to text.

Land Registry - Forward

Good day to you whomever you might be and felicitations, your good health and a happy life to you! Why are you reading this little account of myself, I wonder? For I know I shall be long dead before you read it. A comforting thought for me.

This tale is all about how I made lots and lots of money from, to put no finer point on it, a blag. Yes, one big, huge colourful, ins and outs BLAG!

You may know me as a philanthropist of sorts, a kind man, a gentle soul who landed a fortune through no offices of his own, and lived well, not excessively nor extravagantly, on said fortune to this very day. But, this very day has come. And I am finally writing it all down. For me it's a Catharsis, a letting go, a kiss-and-tell, The Whole Truth And Nothing But, M'Lord. I didn't land the fortune, I blagged it. I didn't inherit, I nicked. I didn't come by it, I stole it good and proper. But I stole it from you my friend, though you'll never feel the loss. And I stole it because I could, and, yes, because I was young and cocky. And very, very lucky. I swiped it from under the nose of the Authorities, with their signatures all over it. It was such larks, and the very most fun I've ever had.

Then here begins my outpouring of what and how, when and where, I pulled off the biggest blag in British history, and why you've never heard of it. Until now.

I'm literally on my death bed, so no cozzers will come round to take me away having read this. For I shall be deceased, gone to meet my maker, joined the Pythons invisible and no longer accountable to any living person on earth. God will be my Judge, and He doesn't exist, so that’s alright. I begin at the beginning, when the germ of it first came into my young head.

Land Registry - ONE

When I graduated from Oxford Kings College in July 1977, I had a double first in English an no desire to teach or be an academic, which were the only routes at the time to a paying job. I needed money, I liked the good life, my college years were funded by my dear old Pa, and then abruptly ended when he did. He wasn't good with the old dough, as I was going to be, and died owing a considerable amount of money to the Tote.

They never got it back.

So, penniless and pretty much alone, I applied for all kind of Government jobs, boring jobs, but jobs that paid the rent and had a fine pension and other benefits. Significant other benefits as it turns out. Anyway, I managed to get my way into a junior clerk's job at the Land Registry. All wood-panelling and leather desks for the bosses, squeaky chairs and woodworm-holed furniture for the rest of us. My new boss was one of the jolly good old fellows who didn't really need to work, had money of his own (well, his wife's money) but really needed the comfort of the nine-five. The Monday to Friday and a drink in the bar with workmates after hours.

A very nice life he had indeed.

On my first day, he called me in for a chat, and told me that, with my qualifications and with some aptitude, I could do very well for myself in the Registry. You could go very far indeed, young man. Him pontificating along those lines, and waffling about, my mind drifted away a little, then found myself looking at what he was doing, all the while telling me of the greatness I could become.

He was signing papers.

Top of In-Tray, onto desk, squiggle accurately on the dotted line, top of Out-Tray. And repeat. Waffle waffle waffle.

Now there's interesting! He's not actually reading the stuff he's signing. I could go very far indeed, with a little application, I thought to myself, oh yes! He finished his homilies, wished me well in the job and sent me back to my desk. With an Idea.

Now, I was a generally law-abiding citizen, don't do no wrong, as my old Pa used to say (and, it might appear, never stuck to himself), wouldn't rob an old dear of her life savings etc. But back then I could be a bit of a devious fellow, looking for the main chance, seeing around me "opportunities" that passed everyone else by. I'd managed to get the best desk by the window with a bit of the old charm I could employ, when I wanted to, and all that. But My Idea was going to be a big one, one that wouldn't bother too many people, and eventually make a great deal of money without much effort. Just the way I liked it. And still do. The easy life.

So, I had to be there for a while to get my bearings and be a good employee. I worked overtime, which was grim in winter as the heating went off abruptly at 5pm. I did a few weekends, and I was oh so very nice to everybody, played losing golf with the boss, went on away-days and all that hard graft expected of you for a typical Government career path. In fact, I did this with an amount of humility and gracefulness which I had to learn, as it wasn't in my typical nature, because I wanted to be good, but not too good. Be just under the radar, so-to-speak. Not high-flying, because I wanted to stay pretty much where I was in the department.

I was spending my evenings thinking, just wondering what could be done, not writing anything down, because that could be dangerous, so it was all in my head. A plan began to form itself, and every angle peered at from all directions. I went over it and over it and over it. And the plan seemed to be there, I just had to screw my courage to the wall and, well, just get on with it.

So the time came to put all my eggs in one basket, hope for the best, hope that prison food wouldn't be as awful as they say, and drew up a Registration Document. In official Land Registry headed foolscap paper, assigning the land at 26 Downview Avenue in my name. I put it near the top of a sheaf of papers destined for the boss's In-Tray and gave the pile to Heather, as I always did on a Wednesday afternoon. Then I saw her go into his office, and I followed her in.

"Just a quick word, Mr Gibbons, if you have time?" I said.

"Of course, Master Andrews, happy to, young man, come in, come in, sit down! Heather, two teas if you'd be so kind? Thank you!"

I sat across from him and started my prepared little speech.

"I was wondering, Mr Gibbons, as I've been here for some time, what you might think I could do to get a promotion. I remember my very first day here, sir, and inspired by what you said, I should be most grateful if you could guide me a little more about what I could do next?"

Well, that did it, just the right tone. He was off, pretty much everything he'd said to me on my first day he said again. And quite delightfully, and giddily excitingly for me, he was signing the papers. My one off the In-tray, onto his desk, accurately signing on the dotted line without much of a look at it. And the next one, and the next, until he'd finished his speech and looked at me, eye-brows raised, for some kind of response. I said,

"That's very helpful of you, Mr Gibbons, sir, I shall look into doing that extra bit of studying and talk to Mr. Stove tomorrow. Most grateful for your help, sir."

"Think nothing of it, young man, pleased to be of service to one of our brightest stars, yes."

Well, I was not sure I wanted to be a bright star, but I kept repeating to myself the essence of what he said, because it was really difficult to concentrate on anything but my signed document. I think I left rather quickly, nearly bumping in to Heather on the way out. Heather was going to be unwittingly useful.

So that was The First One. I waited a week or so, saw the document come back into my in-tray and it was all legal. I owned the land under the garage at Downview Avenue. Time to capitalise on that then, I thought, as I handed the pile to Heather for filing. Time to make it pay.


That's it for the website version - read the rest in my new book!

Out Now! "A Curation of Curious Characters", A Short Story Collection by Andy KJ Cragg

A Curation of Curious Characters, A Short Story Collection by Andy KJ Cragg
Get it at Amazon!

These stories are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.