A strange tale from troubled times.

All in a nights work

My hubby used to work for customs and excise before it became customs and revenue. He actually travelled all over the world with his job. The jobs he investigated were usually about drugs and or money.

One particular time he and a colleague had to visit Northern Ireland,we are talking the 1980s. The two of them were booked into a hotel and to all intents and purposes said establishment seemed normal.

They arrived, checked into their rooms then went down to dinner. Their investigative senses were slightly peaked by the fact that the other guest were of a certain age..old, very old in fact.

Long story short after dinner they went their separate ways to their rooms for the night only to be awoken a few hours later by a fire alarm.

Hubby got dressed and left his room to find his colleague in the corridor. They went down to the reception desk to find it desserted, no staff, no owner. What they notice though was there were a large amount of old people wandering around. Honestly, they were wandering up and down the staircase, they were wandering up to the front door, doing an about turn and then wandering down the hallway again.

Well they thought, as there was no one else in charge they had better organise the chaos. After a little gentle herding they managed to get everyone out on the street. There they were with all these old people , in their night clothes, out on the pavement.

Before leaving the building hubby rung the fire brigade and while awaiting their arrival he and his colleague spent the time carroulling the old ones to keep them together and preventing them from wondering off.

The police and the fire brigade arrived but both refused to go inside, saying it was unsafe and this could be a terrorist attack and there could be a bomb!

Eventually the owner turned up and as there was obviously no fire the police and firefighters left. Hubby and his mate helped get all the old people back into their rooms.

After the alarm had been silenced they asked how come there was no staff on duty and why the vast majority of guests at the hotel looked as though they should be in an old people’s home.

Well the explanation was simple! Simple, that is simple for Northern Ireland in the middle of the troubles. The owner was in the process of changing the business over from being an hotel to an old people’s home. He had taken the HM.Customs and Excise resavation because he had two empty rooms. As you do?

As there was no further explanation on the cards and the owner disappeared, Hubby and his colleague spent a fitful night wandering if things could get any stranger.

They did survive to tell the tale and carry out their investigation. One of the weirder recollections of his job though not the weirdest or indeed the most dangerous.

We often wondered how the old people faired and did the care provided improve.

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