“Where did you get that?”
“A bloke was selling them at work for half price.”
“Blimy that’s a bargain, where did he get them.”
“No idea, probably fell off the back of a lorry.”
In working class London anything that was cheap or even strange, must have fallen off the back of a lorry, it was the explanation for many objects that seemed to appear for no reason. Dad had brought home two half bottles of Lamb’s Navy Rum for less than half the price and so no questions asked. We were an honest family, but you did not look a gift horse in the mouth, and it seemed that in the factory where dad worked, all the men had jumped at the opportunity of their very cheap good quality rum. We were not alcoholics, but on special days like anniversaries or birthdays a drop of the hard stuff was welcome. It was also for medicinal purposes, although I do not really think that a glass of rum cured anyone, it was the thought that counted.
Two weeks later we were watching the TV in the evening. One of the interesting programmes was “Police 5”. This was a weekly programme for five minutes, showing various crimes committed in England. It was then that mum nearly had her first heart attack and called dad. There it was on the screen, our bottle of Lambs Navy Rum, not exactly ours. It was the same bottle and a few thousand had been stolen. I think it was a lorry full, but cannot really remember.
The case was clear, dad was a receiver of stolen goods. Of course the man in the programme said anyone knowing anything should report it to the police. Mum had a better solution. She emptied the rum from the bottle into another bottle, probably a coca cola or even a milk bottle. She washed the empty bottle of Lambs rum, scraping off the label, and threw the now clean naked bottle into the garbage can. Yes, mum had become a gangster’s moll, but she knew what to do. There were no flies on our mum. As this happened at least 60 years ago, the crime is now outdated, so no more risk or arrest and mum and dad are long gone.
Mum and dad enjoyed their very cheap rum and we forgot the whole thing. Sometimes things are not as they seem. Of course dad got the blame for bringing stolen goods home with visions of the whole family being caught by the police. This was the nearest we ever got to being on the wrong side of the law.
The Police 5 series was very popular on the British BBC Television. I even found a programme on You Tube, but not the one with our famous bottles of Lambs Navy Rum.