Celtic Illumination, part 295, Pass the kouchie
With the job at TPT coming to an end I doubled my efforts at writing, trying to find a market where I could earn a steady stream of money. I don’t think it was me who wanted this, but banks and mortgage lenders always needed to see a guaranteed income stream before they would part with any money, most of the time. Most novice writers aim for the magazine markets, writing short stories however this market is top heavy, so I needed to find my own little niche. I started writing for magazines but for men’s magazines, the top shelf. The money was good and the writing was fairly easy. I was producing the letters that readers supposedly send in, and had to create batches of six at a time, as the company published a number of different titles every month. On top of this I began to write horoscopes, being just as qualified as any astrologer, but rather than write straight forward horoscopes I made mine humorous, again for the men’s magazine market.
The writer’s circle I was a member of had mixed views on what I was up to. One lady said that I was prostituting my art, it didn’t worry me in the least and to tell you the truth I don’t think the writers circle were that concerned about it, not that it had anything to do with them. By the way, writing pornography is not a simple act of sitting daydreaming about your fantasies and then writing them down, there are strict, hard and fast rules. I was in good company as many writers have started their careers by writing filth and I’m not talking about D H Lawrence or the like. I informed the writer’s circle that I had been accepted on to a course at the Arvon foundation and immediately they began to ask all about the course, who were the facilitators, what centre was I going to, how much it was costing.
I think when I went to Arvon my course was about three hundred and seventy five pounds. It was a hefty sum at the time and I was quite surprised when Betty, the chairperson of our writers circle, suggested that the writers circle pay for my course. It was unanimous and really did surprise me; I couldn’t believe how generous they were being. But things got even better. At the air cadet squadron that evening I was telling the other adults about my stroke of luck when one of the newer adults asked me where the course was being held. I told him that it was in Yorkshire, near the village of Hebden Bridge. I knew nothing of the area or even the house I was going to. I explained that I would probably use a combination of trains and buses to get there but Tony insisted that he would drive me. He was a salesman and as all his fuel was paid for, he didn’t mind a little jaunt into Yorkshire, he would arrange some appointments in the area and I was sorted.
So from initially worrying about actually being accepted on to a course I now had the course paid for and would be ferried free from door to door. Of course nothing is for free in this life and I subsequently found out that Tony wanted to know if I could do him a little favour. We had rather a good social life with the air cadet squadron, there was always a party going on somewhere, some remembered more than others. One I do remember was caught on video which I hope never surfaces because as I was working my way through “Holes in hands, holes in feet, carries crosses down the street, has anybody seen JC?” I remember noticing the video camera pointing straight at me. Let’s hope that performance has been consigned to the recycle bin of history, although in this day and age I suppose it would do no harm to show the X Factor generation how a real singer, with a decent voice, does it.
And then there are the rumours. Like most domesticated men I have what I suppose you would call a signature dish, which is homemade pizza. So we had all the adults from the air cadets around to our house one evening for pizza and wine. I stuck close to my roots and requested, as I had been expertly taught on the Royal Air Force Valley, Desert and Mountain Rescue Teams, Wine and Cheese Appreciation Society, that the proper wine for such an occasion was a fecking big bottle. There were also quite a lot of the older cadets there too and a great night was had by all. My pizzas were a hit, but then what else would you expect. The house was littered with bodies I remember three people sleeping on the landing floor. Tony and I decided to continue drinking until dawn. We were in the kitchen and probably playing that game where we both drink a bottle of whiskey, then one leaves the room and the other has to guess who has left the room or, the even more difficult version of the game, which is to guess who remains.
We had a real laugh and chatted away throughout the night, I would have told him stories of my madcap escapades and he would have reciprocated. I didn’t think much more about it for the next day I was told that I had been a very naughty boy. How, or where, the rumour came from, I really do not know but it seems that half a shift of policemen, at one Warrington police station, were still off their heads on marijuana. I had been accused of liberally sprinkling each pizza with marijuana and feeding it to half a dozen coppers. The consequences didn’t bear thinking about, for if one of the policemen, who had been at the party, believed the rumour then I would once again have a house full of coppers, but this time they wouldn’t be so friendly and would probably have sniffer dogs with them. So it wasn’t me, honest. I never did nothing.
It was as we were driving over to Yorkshire that Tony began to remind me of what I had been saying to him during our little drinking session. He was in a huge amount of debt and his house was about to be repossessed, and I’m not talking poltergeists here. His whole financial world was about to crumble and collapse, and if that happened he would lose his job, so, did I know anyone who could fix a mortgage for him. I promised him that I would make a telephone call but I couldn’t guarantee anything. I was going to telephone Graham who had just completed six months working in the library at Brixton prison in London, for fraud and half a dozen other related crimes. Tony was extremely grateful and told me that he was under a little pressure. It was horrible to see the strain that the poor fellow was under
I was under strain as well as I didn’t really want to enter the weird and wonderful world that surrounded Graham. Just by facilitating the deal I was probably breaking half a dozen laws, but as long as I got a job in the prison library I would be all right. I’m sure Graham could fix it for me. We actually pulled in to a motorway service area and I telephoned Graham who was his normal self. I didn’t really have to relay anything to Tony who stood beside me, outside the telephone box, but with the door open, as Graham bellowed at me over the phone line. It was strange conversation as Graham is always convinced that his telephone line is bugged. But don’t tell anyone. I ran the relevant numbers past Graham and even I could see that this basically was what is known in the trade as a ‘bent’ mortgage. Graham was adamant that he couldn’t do anything himself, because of his little Brixton holiday he wasn’t allowed to be involved with lending money or mortgages, but he did think that he might know someone, who might know someone else, who might be able to arrange something, maybe.
So, if we would like to come down and have a chat with Graham he might be able to sort something out, if he ever met the fellow he thought who might know someone, again. Oh and by the way, Graham had heard that to arrange such things these days involved one thousand pounds cash, in an envelope. So if we did want to come down for a coffee and a chat we may as well be prepared and have a grand ready to hand over, just in case. But if he did manage to bump in to the fellow who knew someone, who might know something about this, there would be no problem, the deal could be arranged and the money available within the week. I wasn’t surprised in the least that Graham was still involved in the money business, I would hate to find out what other new tricks he had learned while inside. Tony seemed to think that one thousand pounds was a fair price, so I suggested that if I gave him the address Tony could shoot down and see Graham. Tony asked if I would go with him and so we arranged to nip down and see Graham the following week. I agreed, but couldn’t really begin to think about Graham and his shenanigans as I had a writer and a poet to impress.