We had to break his front door in I’m afraid all his stock is damaged and the flat upstairs is badly damaged with smoke.
Are they both alright?’
There was no one in the flat fortunately; Do you have a contact number for Mr Hancock sir?’
“No I didn’t know that he was away; it’s a good job really they may have been killed.
Yes it is sir.’
“How did the fire start?’
“Seems as though it was a firework; but there was a strong smell of petrol as well.’
“Well he wasn’t liked around here and I wouldn’t put it past him to have started the fire himself.’
What do you mean sir?’
“Well you know; for the insurance money; He could have easily got someone to put a firework through his shop door whilst he tipped some petrol inside earlier before he left.’
“I never thought of that sir; it also gives him an alibi too not being here.’
The fire chief made a note in his pad then spoke with a police officer.
It was eleven o’clock on January 1st 1963 when Ronnie returned to his shop to see it in ruins. He rang the insurance people immediately and put a claim in for the shop, his flat, and all his ruined stock. Later that day two detectives came and took Hancock family away where they were questioned for several hours. He blamed Billy Burston for the fire but there was no proof. The insurance people would not pay up because they had reason to believe that Hancock had started the fire himself or had conspired to collect on the insurance. Hancock was ruined he now had no shop, no where to live; nothing.’
A van came to salvage what was left of the flat and stock. Ronnie Hancock went back to Scotland and never returned. The shop was later sold at a knock down price and became known as Watson’s.
Never again would Billy Burston have any trouble; in fact he and Ina Watson became good friends. The people on the estate were now happy that they could now use both shops.
Standing at the back of the church Dougie waited for Paula, she came walking down the aisle with her mother. Dougie had listened to the sermon read out by Reverend Ralph Mason who talked about how Jesus healed a blind man and told another to take up his bed and walk after he was crippled. “Have faith in the lord and he will surely answer your prayers.’
Paula saw Doug who was dressed for the occasion in a smart jacket and trousers, he wore a white shirt with a silk tie, and his shoes were highly polished. He carried a bag with his work clothes inside and his rigging boots. Paula asked reverend Ralph if Doug could change into his work clothes after the service was over to which the reverend agreed and allowed him to use the vestry.
Minnie Beck sat in the front seat until they had dropped her off. “You looked very smart today Mr Cook but the lord say’s that the Sabbath is a day of rest.
I will not open my doors on a Sunday to anyone.’
“I’m sorry to be breaking the word of God Mrs Beck but you see I work Monday to Friday and it doesn’t leave me much time to work on my boat. Saturday and Sunday are the only day’s that I have in which to do anything.’