Dodger wins battle but war far from over


Against the Odds:Sir Roger may have all the aces but Angie has yet to play her trump card, writes RODDY L'ESTRANGE

The summit had been called for 10 bells on Monday morning and drew a field of six, three of whom, Vinny Fitzpatrick suspected, would find the going as sapping as it was for the runners at Cheltenham over the weekend.

Vinny, Angie and their solicitor, Tony Biggins, known in Clontarf as Bilbo, had been summoned to the offices of Boru Betting on the instructions of Harold E Hopcraft and Son, esteemed legal firm of Northumberland Road.

“Harold doesn’t cross the road for less than a grand, never mind cross to the Northside. This is serious,” warned Bilbo, as he ushered Vinny and Angie in through the front door of the betting shop on the Clontarf Road.

Inside, flanked by scores of silent TV screens, stood the scowling figure of Sir Roger Winston, whose black eye and busted nose suggested he’d gone three rounds with Katie Taylor.

On one side of him stood a white-haired gent Vinny took to be Harold Hopcraft, and on the other, a younger foppish-haired man, lean and lank, who smirked at the arrivals.

There were no good mornings, not even a curt nod. “Well, if it isn’t Jezebel and her Great Protector?” sneered Sir Roger. “I’ll be brief. Time is money as Harold here keeps reminding me.

“See this,” he said pointing to his misshapen hooter. “No one does this to me and gets away with it. Your bus driver buddy is lucky I’m not going to sue him for assault but I will unless you shift your pretty ass Angie and clear your desk before the first race at Leicester.

“Simon Temple-Doran, from our Dundrum office, is taking charge,” he added, nodding at the grinning dandy to his left.

“I’ve a chicken’s neck to cover your service here. It’ll buy you a nice frock or two but I wouldn’t spend it all in the one shop if I were you,” he said sarcastically.

As Sir Roger made for the door, Angie broke her silence. “Hold on a minute Mister Winston – I am afraid I don’t recognise the knights of the Queen’s realm in these parts,” she said in a steely voice which Vinny found admirable.

“‘My husband was acting in defence of the honour which you tried to steal from me in my office with your grubby, groping, hands.

“Your advances were unwarranted, unsolicited and a breach of my rights. Isn’t that right Bilbo?’ she said half-turning to her solicitor, who was studying his shoes.

Sir Roger’s bruised face contorted in anger. All of a sudden, his demeanour was more East End heavy than suave businessman.

“Where I come from, a lot of folk have turned up in the Thames wearing concrete slippers. If I were you, I’d button your pretty lips before something happens to them.

“It’s one person’s word against another and mine would count in every law of the land including this potato-pushing one.

“Back off Ms Mooney or you and your husband will go down like a burning Spitfire over Beachy Head. Remember, I have 48 witnesses who saw him nutt me. You’ve lost your job. Do you want Mr Blobby here to lose his liberty?” he hissed.

“Before you go, show Simon the code for the safe, how the remotes work, and leave him the keys. You screwed up babe, big-time.”

With that, Sir Roger was gone, with his well-heeled legal eagle at his flanks. Several minutes later, in Bunter’s Café on Vernon Avenue, Angie, Vinny and Bilbo silently shared a pot of tea and a round of hot buttery muffins.

It was Vinny who spoke first, as he heaped a third spoon of sugar into his cuppah.

“This battle may have gone Roger The Dodger’s way but the war is far from lost, love,” he said. “We’re not taking this lying down and I have a plan to get Roger’s fancy knickers in a twist.

“I was reading up that Winston’s run 18 shops in the city, eight around the city centre, and the other 10 scattered in a ring from Swords to Blanch’ and Tallaght.

“With Siptu support, I reckon we can have a picket on every one of them in the morning. They will love a “damsel in distress” angle.

“I’ll rally the troops from the other garages. All the lads like a bet and I’ll make sure they keep clear of Winston’s. Weasel Winston will soon feel the power of the people when his profits start dipping.

“Within a week, I’ll bet he’ll be crawling on broken glass to have you back, love.”

Angie looked at her husband through misty eyes. She held a pudgy paw and gave it a squeeze. “You’re a great husband Vinny, and a great dreamer too as we’re behind the eight-ball on this one,” she said softly.

“Say Siptu mobilise and the other garages come out in support, we’ll have the gardai knocking at our door first thing in the morning.

“If we do go to court, it won’t be to denounce Roger Winston; it will be to save your skin and keep you out of the clink. Personally, I fancy QPR’s chances better at Manchester United this weekend.”

Bilbo Biggins coughed and raised a hand. “May I?” he said. “Vinny, your wife is right. Sir Roger holds the high ground. I suggest we retreat. To do otherwise would be folly. Picture the scene if he presses charges. You, your wife, step-daughter and twins will be all over the front page daily papers, never mind the Clontarf Courier.

“You’ll probably go to prison for a spell and I’ll bet you won’t find your day job waiting for you when you come out. The risks are too great.”

Vinny shook his large almost hairless head. He was furious at the power that a rotter like Roger Winston had over hard-working ordinary folk like Angie and him. He was contemplating raising a white flag when he heard Angie exclaim: “Bilbo, you’re a genius. I get the picture alright. Now it’s time for Roger The Dodger to get the picture too.”

With that, Angie pushed her chair back and dashed out of Bunter’s towards Boru Betting with a startled Vinny and Bilbo trailing in her wake.

Bets of the week

2pts each-way The Giant Bolster in Betfred Chase (11/1, Boylesports)

2pts Argentina to beat Ireland (2/1, Ladbrokes)

Vinny's Bismark

2pts Lay Manchester City to beat Real Madrid in Champions League (2/1, Paddy Power, liability 4pts)

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