“I can top that,” Gordie said.

Gordon was an engineer with Wincrest Homes. He was a pleasant, balding, easy-going guy with usually not much to say. He’d enjoyed the MBA Excellence in Housing Awards earlier in the evening – As well he might since Wincrest won the merit award with their beautiful Windara home.Scenic-Resort-476x237

A small group of engineers from different companies had hung on after the awards. The bar was still open and the stories were emerging.

“Yes,” Gordon went on. “One of the Old Boys told me about a renovation they did south of Newcastle.”

(I must explain – Wincrest is a very old home builder in the Central Coast and Newcastle area; so old they’re generational. ‘Old Boys’ is the name given to the previous generation of Wincrest employees)

Gordon took a sip from his Guiness. “See, there was this old Heritage Trust convict gaol. It was pretty close to ruin. The Trust wanted to know if it could be saved and turned into a tourist attraction.

When the Old Boys saw it they said to level it and build something else. But the trust couldn’t, you see. They were hamstrung by their own laws. No one can destroy anything of historical value. Yet it was a waste of tax payers’ money like it was.

So they got down to the usual stuff – soil samples, structural analysis, proposals and costings. It was all pretty boring, even if it was a nice area.

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing the renovation was given the green light.The stone and wood had to be sourced from Tasmania. The Trust was adamant about it – No cross-pollination with other raw materials.

Second day on the job and the tradies were amazed to find the site had been cleaned. As you all know tradesmen make a mess. There’s no point cleaning up at the end of each day because they’ll just make another mess tomorrow. The best way is to leave it until the job is finished and do it all at once.

So the building foreman spoke to the Trust to find out who the cleaner was and to tell him not to waste his time.”covict gaol

“What cleaner?” was the reply.

So the foreman told them what had happened.

“There is no cleaner.”

But every morning the builders arrived to a spotlessly clean job site. Their tools were left untouched. Their work was left unchanged. Nothing was interfered with. But the scraps and mess, the spilled paint and rubbish was gone.

The foreman shrugged. Why look a gift horse in the mouth?

About two weeks into the job the foreman received a call from the Archives Section of the Trust. They grilled him for almost an hour about the cleaner. Not that he could tell them anything. Whoever this cleaner was he must come at night. No one had ever seen him. All anyone ever saw were the full bins and the empty floors that marked his passing.

The foreman asked why they were so interested.

Gordon paused for a moment.

Accounts, at the Trust, had discovered there was a cleaner. With automated payment he’d been all but forgotten. His name was Cedric O’Flannagan. But Human Resources had no record of the guy. Some bright spark in Archives recognized his name and did a little digging. Cedric O’Flannagan was the name of the last man ever hanged at the gaol.

And he’d been drawing a wage for the last two hundred years.”

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