Celtic Illumination, part 336, Originality is undetected plagiarism.
I suppose what I once considered to be the ridiculous habit of answering the telephone and writing things down was actually going to pay off positively for me. Diaries and note books were produced, where the date, time and who had been spoken to was recorded, along with the actual conversations preserved on cassette tape. This probably reflects how good military training is, for if you watch any military person when a telephone rings, they will be looking for a pen on their way to answer it. You would think that once O Grady and Murphy knew we could prove, beyond a doubt, that we had an actual spoken agreement they would have, even as a form of damage limitation, agreed to proceed with the project. On almost every telephone call you will hear me say that I am not interested in money, I want the books published and I will be happy with whatever they earn.
Throughout all of my writing apprenticeship I had never come across rip off merchants. I mean everyone involved was a professional, weren’t they? At the time the only case I was ever really aware of was when the fantastic cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe, accused Michael Heseltine of theft. Heseltine had risen to be the deputy prime minister of Britain, but unfortunately he was a selfish ass, like all Conservatives. One of his first jobs had been as a magazine editor and Scarfe had submitted sketches to the magazine. Heseltine published the sketches in the magazine but kept the originals, having them framed and hung on his office walls. Scarfe insisted that they remained his property, that he had only rented them to the magazine. It was an interesting episode, but for me what was more interesting was to see Gerald Scarfe rip in to Heseltine on television.
Heseltine wielded great power but Scarfe didn’t care, not only could you use the euphemism that Scarfe gave him both barrels, but he would then have swung the butt around and hit him across the head with that a couple of times too. Heseltine was like most bullies, a coward, and hates when people point out his wriggling and jiving when he feared that he may have to enrol in the armed forces as a conscript. He and his father made sure that Heseltine was positioned well so that if he was called up he would be an officer. He was eventually called up and served in the Welsh Guards. Most military men laugh at him because he now sports a Welsh Guards tie, which people say he has worn for a longer time than he actually served.
So for me the Scarfe and Heseltine episode was important, as it showed me how the media could be used, by Scarfe, not by Heseltine. Heseltine, when questioned about the affair, would give the normal politicians response of not answering the question, basically he would lie. The only decent thing Heseltine ever did in his life was contribute to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher by standing against her for leadership of the hated British Conservative party. With Matthew Wright’s response to my request for help I doubted very much if anyone in the media would go out of their way to help me, unless they could see something in it for themselves. Jeffrey still wanted me to proceed with legal action if O Grady and Murphy refused to honour our agreement.
I wondered if I could get my cousins in Ireland to bring him to the small claims court in Newry. O Grady and Murphy would probably expect to find hundreds of adoring fans supporting them outside the Newry court house but all they would find would be half a dozen good ol boys. I didn’t want to hurt O Grady or Murphy for that matter, I didn’t want them to pay me compensation either, I wanted the books published as we had agreed. We had once been given the day off school when Paisley was touring the area with Enoch Powel, the English racist, who was standing for election in the north. We were not asked to attend their rally and listen to their speeches, we were told to get them back in their cars and out of Warrenpoint as quickly as possible. I suppose in England many people would stick their nose in the air and say, “Oh yes, I once met Doctor Paisley at a cocktail party.” In Warrenpoint you would probably hear someone say, “I put the rear window through on the arseholes car.” So I knew if I could get O Grady and Murphy in to court in Newry I could certainly have the fear of God put in to them. We could use the old IRA idiom of ‘having presented them with the evidence of their activities,’ which was normally said before someone had their knee caps blown off, or worse.
I had given all my evidence to a local firm of solicitors who had called me in to discuss the progress of the case. I had already stumped up fifteen hundred quid so was a little disappointed to hear that that money had run out, I needed to make a deposit, and, because the case was going to be so high profile they were moving it up to their head office in Liverpool and the company’s litigation specialist. But they could see that I had a case and could probably win. This news gave me confidence, it was a long way away from a letter from a barrister so I wrote my own little letter to each of the daily newspapers in the United Kingdom, I even included the Sunday editions. I thought I would have to wait at least a week to hear anything so was quite surprised to find a reporter from the News of The World, a red top Sunday newspaper, waiting for me when I returned home the following day.
My letter to the newspapers had been quite simple and straightforward. All I said was, “If I could prove to you that Paul O Grady is a lying, cheating, thieving, shit, would you be interested?” I know I shouldn’t have put in my letter that Paul O Grady is, or was, a shit, I couldn’t really prove it, an English court is a very dangerous place for an Irishman to be. In Britain there is a tradition of newspapers coming up with the most ridiculous headlines, such as Bus found on Moon, or Woman Marries Dog, so I was desperately trying to think of some outrageous story, with an edge of truth, that the papers might pick up on. I had contacted the arts council for my region, in Manchester, and asked them if they fancied giving me a grant for five thousand pounds so that I could take the thief Paul O Grady to court. I was amazed to hear that they would have loved to have helped me but the incidence of ‘celebrities’ ripping people off, was so high, if they helped me, they would have to help all the others and they simply couldn’t afford it.
I suppose that is the point when you start noticing people Like Jeffrey Archer. Archer is a typical British Lord, guilty and jailed for perjury, cheating on his wife with cheap prostitutes, investing in failed coup attempts overseas and apparently helping himself to large sums of money from a charity he ran, not to mention the insider trading. Archer had once been a judge for a short story competition and sometime later was accused of plagiarism when the winning story from the completion he had judged, appeared as the title story for a collection of his short stories, Twelve Red Herrings, plagiarism, if you opened your eyes, was rife. I needed something that would side track the media, something juicy they could focus on without actually going for O Grady’s jugular, at least not just yet.
I learned that Savage and Murphy would often travel to Dublin where they loved joining in with the burgeoning homosexual and transgender community. In fact what I had been told was that one of the strangest sights, ever seen in Dublin, had been two, apparently, seven foot tall men, in high heels, dresses and massive blond wigs who were seen having a swordfight on O Connell Street at two in the morning, one of them being O Grady. This gave me an idea, so a batch of hand written letters were constructed purportedly being written by concerned parents of Royal Marines who were stationed in Northern Ireland. Tony made sure they were posted in different locations, in and around Colchester. The letters stated that a special forces officer, namely a Royal Marine Commando, Tim Lort, stationed in Northern Ireland, had been offering some of his men fifty pounds cash, all the beer they could drink and all expenses paid. The parents each claimed to be worried that their sons may get in to trouble as they had been asked to go to Dublin, in a foreign country, and give O Grady a hammering, making it look like gay bashing as O Grady had cheated a writer friend of his. I never told Tim, I don’t even know if Tim has ever been to Northern Ireland, but I knew it would be one of those little important facts that the media would gloss over if they felt they had a decent story to tell. I was probably guided by hearing a newspaper editor once saying. “Give us the photograph and we will make up the story.”