Celtic Illumination, part 259, Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
Although I often refer to Graham as a bullshitter of the highest order I have to say I felt that that he was more of a Walter Mitty character and it was only with the passage of time that I could begin to see the web of deceptions he had created. The visit from the Duke of Norfolk, plus having his son working with us, allowed Graham to believe that we almost had royal patronage bestowed upon the company. And when meeting new people he would still tell them that he had been in the SAS, adding with a whisper, but don’t tell anyone. We were always in the office every morning at nine o clock but after that each day had its own plan. The only standard throughout the working week would have been lunch time and this would normally be spent in a hotel or pub. Graham preferred hotels; he probably liked the idea of being surrounded by so many staff.
I have to say that we both carried Filofaxes, huge diary’s, full of business cards, contacts and appointments. The normal lunch time scenario would have me dropping Graham by the main door and then I would park up and follow him in. One day I followed him in too quickly and found out why, on many previous occasions, various reception staff would have shied away from me. Graham was standing at the reception desk of the hotel we had chosen for lunch and in his standard bellowing voice was asking if his bodyguard could come in. The staff were nodding and probably wondering if this was an escaped lunatic standing before them, and why on earth would anyone announce that they had a bodyguard? Graham would then explain that the bodyguard, me, was armed and he wondered if they had a policy on live weapons, he had been in the SAS you know, but don’t tell anyone.
I couldn’t believe what he was up to but from then on I could see various staff members eyeing up the bulge in my jacket that was my Filofax. One day we were driving back and Graham began to ask me about air traffic control. Rather than a general discussion he asked me what the exact terminology would be for a light aircraft getting airborne and landing. I gave him a few examples and thought no more about it. It was a day or two later in a hotel bar in Wallingford, Graham was holding court as usual. Phillip Howard was with us and the barman’s name was Quentin, we called him Q. Q looked at the three of us and then asked me. “Where’s your Rolex?” I don’t think there was any motive for the question other than I was not wearing a Rolex watch, but both Graham and Phillip were. Perhaps I had been spending far too long with Graham as I answered, “Oh I left it hanging on the answerphone in the car.” Which he accepted as fact.
We congregated at the end of the bar, beside a small seating area, a handful of locals were sitting around and Graham was in full bullshit mode. He was explaining how he would fly himself around South Africa inspecting diamond mines. It was one of his standard bullshit stories but then it became interesting as Graham began to describe how he nearly lost it on an approach to a rather difficult little air strip. He repeated almost word for word what I had told him would be said between air traffic control and the pilot. It sort of underlined the whole episode for me and confirmed that you couldn’t believe one word that came out of his mouth.
I’m sure most people would dismiss Graham as a complete idiot but there was a dangerous side to him. I was spending a weekend in Ipswich with Tony and enjoyed the relative normality of life away from Wallingford. One of the struts on the seat of my car had snapped so I went to see Chris and asked him if he would weld it for me. Chris got his welding gear out and set about the seat while Aurora and myself sat on the deck of the, now completed, houseboat and enjoyed a coffee. Chris came in announcing that the job was finished but that I was not in his good books as I had put his life in danger. I of course enquired how I had done such a thing.
Chris explained that if the flame from his welding equipment had caught this lot there would have been some loud noises and most probably a couple of armed response units turning up. He placed before me a plastic bag containing live ammunition and bottles of morphine. I really had no idea how they had got in my car and thanked my lucky stars that Chris had found them, for if I was ever to get in trouble with the law, claiming ignorance while in possession of an Irish accent wouldn’t save the day. I was doubly thankful that when we were being questioned about the Knightsbridge Safety Deposit robbery they hadn’t impounded my car or else I would probably still be in Scotland Yard helping the flying squad with their enquiries.
I can remember sitting there with the bullets and morphine on the table. Chris asked what I was going to do with it and I said I would throw the lot in the river. Chris asked if he could keep the morphine and I said why not. That’s when I started to become very afraid. Not because of the bullets but because Chris had started to make what I thought was a joint. He joined all the cigarette skins together then laid out a line of tobacco. I expected him to scatter some marijuana over the tobacco but he didn’t. He cracked open a bottle of morphine and started to dribble that over the tobacco. He then rolled up the spliff and started to smoke it. I could feel a veil of sweat descend across my whole body for I couldn’t believe that someone would do something like that. I made my excuses, took the bullets and left.
I threw them far out into the River Orwell and went to The Rose for a pint of beer. I had left my car by Chris’s and didn’t really want to go back as I honestly believed I would find him dead from smoking the morphine. I had a good idea who had left the ammunition and morphine in my car but I would have to find the right moment to quiz him about it. One night we got back to Wallingford very late, it was after eleven so all the pubs were closed. Luckily for us the surveyor who worked with us owned a pub, the Town Arms, that was only thirty seconds staggering distance from Graham’s house and for us, and a small select group of others, it was always open. We gave the secret knock and were given entrance to the pub. There weren’t many people in the bar so Graham and I settled down with a pint of beer and began to reflect on the day.
The landlord, our pet surveyor, came over and indicated a group of three men sitting at the far end of the bar. “They want to have a word with you two,” said the landlord. “They’ve been waiting for a couple of hours for you to come in.” There was no indication of trouble so Graham and I went over to the three fellows and introduced ourselves. One of them began to explain himself. He told us that he had terminal cancer and only had a month or two to live. He had already received a partial pay out from his insurance company and wondered if Graham and I would do a little job for him. For those of you thinking investment, sit down, you’re wrong. He went on to explain, and I’m using his words here, that his sister was married to a black fellow; the guy talking to us was white. He said that the black fellow would often come home drunk and beat his sister up. If he gave us ten thousand pounds would we nip round and kill him.