Our business neighbour is one of life's 'colourful' characters. I like him hugely and am always happy when he's about because he's fascinating to talk to. He's very charismatic, always cheerful and I suspect if you upset him you may well find out what the inside of concrete bridge foundation looks like. Let's just say I've heard rumours that he's quite well connected. I'll call him 'Tony*'.
Around eighteen months ago Tony appeared and told us that he was renting the unit next to us. Over the coming months there was a procession of tradesmen fitting out the building, followed by a few months silence, followed by more tradesmen coming to remove said fittings. There were arguments between Tony and the landlord, the display racks in the building went up and down like a bride's nightie until eventually, a couple of months ago, the landlord saw things Tony's way. The racks and signs went up once again and this time stayed up. The stock arrived a couple of days later and the shop has remained steadfastly shut ever since.
I was just getting out of my car recently when Tony appeared. We were chatting and he offered to show me around his new empire. It was an offer I couldn't refuse**, so I went to have a look.
He sells high end shoes at surprisingly low prices. Though it was very nicely done out I didn't see any concrete boots (I suspect they're special order only), but he did have a pair of shoes with spats on display. This is absolutely true.
I asked Tony why he hadn't opened yet.
He told me that he had a "nice little tickle" running with the bookies. He went on to explain in broad terms what it involved, which sounded quite ingenious and probably illegal. He asked if I wanted "a bit of the action" and I suddenly got that feeling you get when swimming in the sea and you realise just how deep the water has gotten.
Maybe I won't try the spats on after all......
* - Tony Soprano, Tony Montana, you get the idea.
** - Sorry, I just couldn't resist it.