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Setting Foot In


Setting Foot In

Back in the late ’90’s this correspondent observed an illegal enterprise continue in business despite being exposed to the local law enforcement.

The illegal enterprise was a shebeen (unlicensed establishment) at the back of Leicester Square, London which fronted as a Cab office.

After work (was a part-time barman on Wardour street) this correspondent & colleagues would enter the Cab office and motion to whoever was on, (usually John who managed the cabbies) that we wished to go downstairs for an after-hour beverage.

Upon entering this illicit downstairs drinking den one would invariably be met with a thin plume of smoke. There was always a pretty girl behind the far-end, side-bar, serving a choice from three optics (Vodka, Whiskey, Gin/Jack Daniels) and a fridge full of beers. The seating arrangements consisted of three or four stools at the bar and four red high-backed couches lined against the walls. The amenities provided were a pool table in the middle of the room, and a back room toilet that resembled the one from the film Trainspotting.

One evening a friend of this correspondent (fellow bar-worker) had been talking to two off-duty police officers while in work. After work your correspondent told his friend he going for something to eat and would meet him later (in the shebeen) for a drink.

On entering the Cab office your correspondent did his usual of motioning his head to go downstairs and on entry into the Shebeen, observed his colleague sitting at the bar drinking with one of the off-duty coppers. This correspondent discreetly pulled his colleague aside to chasten him for bringing the law down there. Your correspondent’s friend told him to relax and that his law-enforcement friend was sound, and just fancied an after-hour beverage.

It can be deduced that the law enforcement officer enjoyed the after-hour beverage & amenities offered to him and other patrons (those who had finished a night’s work i.e. bar staff, security staff, actors, prostitutes, pimps; & those who were finishing off a night’s partying i.e. regular theatre-goers, transvestites & transgenders clubbers; as well as the odd waif & stray, criminal & on one occasion a member from the House of Lords) that night, by the fact that the Cab office & shebeen continued to do subsequent business in the days that followed.

How this pageantry from your correspondent’s past popped up from the memory bank was due to a story read some weeks previous, which narrated the demise of a massage parlour situated in the five-star Guangxin International Hotel, located on the campus of the Wuchang University of Technology in Wuhan.

It was reported that after playing a game of football for the University team, some of the players entered the hotel massage parlour in search of a relaxing foot massage. It can be deduced that they were offered other types of relaxing massages (which were not what they asked for) by their subsequent action of exposing the massage parlour as a prostitution racket.

What this correspondent has learnt about illegal enterprises and their undertakings from the above anecdotes are, it pays off to give the customer what they want (no matter who they are or what they do); and also it doesn’t pay to rub them the wrong way.

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