Celtic Illumination, part 337, And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
I suppose most of you think that if I had even just one ounce of common sense I would have given up all hope of ever becoming a successful writer and become a social worker, or gone back to air traffic control, which would have confirmed that I had been a real failure. What you must understand is that as a writer you have many income streams, well; trickles might be more precise. I did have a couple of successful celebrity projects which I cannot tell you about, I’m sure you understand. It wouldn’t do to start embarrassing all these wonderfully creative people, who would also want their money back. The only problem is that you get paid every six months and as you saw with the Frank Bruno project, no matter how big a sum you get, once everyone else is paid, and you hide as much as you possibly can from the revenue men, there’s not much left.
Even, I suppose, in conversation, the forty thousand pounds I had billed O Grady for, might sound healthy, it’s not what you ended up with, not after Jeffrey, the tax man and the solicitors. Talking about solicitors the litigation expert, working on my case, asked me to come in to Liverpool for a chat. I love Liverpool; there are certain areas of Liverpool where you could believe that you were actually in Belfast. That’s not why I like the place so much, it has its own rich character, the architecture is fantastic and the people very, very, real. They have a great sense of humour and like everywhere else it has its fair share of idiots too.
I went in to Liverpool and found myself sitting in a conference room with my litigation expert. He explained that he had examined all the evidence; he checked one or two facts with me and then asked me if I wanted to proceed. Of course I did, I told him. Well; that was fine with him, if I could give him fifteen hundred pounds he would be happy to take the case forward. I asked what had happened to the three and a half thousand and I had already given them to be told that it had all been used up. He went on to say that his fee was one hundred pounds per hour plus VAT, Value Added Tax, I was glad I had started hiding money from the tax man. I spluttered a bit. The solicitor told me that I should be pleased that I had only had to pay one hundred pounds per hour plus VAT; O Grady would be paying three hundred pounds an hour, which was a lot more than me, with or without the bloody VAT.
I tried to explain to the solicitor that O Grady was a cash millionaire; he probably spent that much on his lunch every day. I’m sure this fellow was used to dealing with companies, or people, with deep pockets but I didn’t feel comfortable forking out three and a half grand, which wasn’t the final figure, it was to enable them to keep working on my case. I asked what my chances of winning were. He couldn’t give me a concrete answer. I asked him simply what, in his opinion, he thought I should do. He told me that he would be happy to tell me if I gave him one hundred pounds plus VAT. I began to wonder who the biggest crook was, the solicitor or O Grady? I asked him, as one good ol boy, to a shark in a suit, that as he had studied all of the evidence, to tell me what I should do. Once again he asked me for money. He even suggested that if I would like to open an account with his firm I could have all my writing recorded by them, in the future, and guarantee protection for my work.
To say that I was disappointed would have been the understatement of the decade. What really upset me the most was that the litigation expert was an Irishman. I understand that in business there has to be rules, guidelines and boundaries, but there is always room for humanity and compassion. A wee bit of help to those at the bottom trying to fight their way up can make an awful lot of difference. I knew that there was no way I could afford to take O Grady through the courts, so I would have to get him to take me to court. If I could slander him then he might take me to court with his three hundred pounds per hour, plus VAT, solicitor and I would defend myself, without VAT. Jeffrey too was disappointed but not surprised. I began a letter writing campaign, writing to arts councils, even my local member of parliament, asking why justice wasn’t available to people who couldn’t afford it.
Most of the replies I got back were bland but at least they pretended to be supportive. I enjoyed it when my local member of parliament wrote back to me and said that he had contacted O Grady who dismissed my claims. I loved the fact that O Grady could see what I was up to, that I was telling as many key people as possible that he was a liar, a thief and a cheat, I stopped calling him a shit as that might be dangerous. His great friends, the alcoholic and the shop lifter, who presented the morning television magazine show, announced that they, well she, the alcoholic, was offering to sort out people’s problems for them, and then the show would follow her putting the worlds wrongs to right. Not only did I contact the show and ask that they get their great friend, the thief Paul O Grady, to pay me the money he owed me, but I sent a batch of letters from my supporters asking the same. I even wrote to O Grady and Murphy explaining that I had contacted the show and to expect television cameras to turn up on their door step.
There was one light point during the episode, where I had Jeffrey falling off his chair with laughter. As you may understand the actual time line that this blog follows is all over the place, to try and make my blog stories have the required beginning, middle and end I have skipped months here and there, so in reality various bits and pieces have overlapped. Jeffrey and myself were chatting on the telephone and discussing ways we could get some justice. Jeffrey wasn’t sure that Murphy, whose business experience has been managing one of London’s gay saunas, was in any way professional, so there was no way we could harm or embarrass him. For those of you who have led sheltered lifestyles, gay sauna’s are renowned for the extremely promiscuous behaviour of their members. Harming him was no great problem, a quick telephone call to Graham would have sorted that out but I had already put a large dose of embarrassment in place. I assured Jeffrey that the embarrassment time bomb was ticking. There wouldn’t actually be egg on his face, more pig shit.
Jeffrey wanted to know what I had done. At the time the Emmerdale book was still looking good. So I asked Jeffrey to think about the Emmerdale book. Jeffrey did, and out loud too, but couldn’t figure out what I was on about. I asked him to think about the farmer who had moved in to the property next door to the Dingles. He did, but still the proverbial penny would not drop. “The farmer,” I said. “If you remember, was an ex media type from London, who was as gay as a nine bob note, wore sparkly eye make-up and glitter wellington boots.” Jeffrey was having a hard time working out what I had done so I gave him the final clue. “His name is Spud,” I said, hoping the punch line had found its mark. “Yes?” said Jeffrey, or asked, I’m not sure.
I could see that I would have to spell it out to him. “In Ireland,” I explained, “Anyone called Murphy has the nick name Spud. It’s O Grady’s boyfriend.” It was like listening to a diesel generator firing up on a cold morning. Jeffrey began to laugh and soon was in full flow. He laughed for a good three or four minutes and then said that he couldn’t believe that I had taken the mickey out of O Grady’s boyfriend by putting him in a book. I explained that after the incident where they made me edit and change the beginning of the second Lily Savage book, I understood that, despite all his failings, Murphy actually respected books, so the best place to embarrass him would be in a book, for, as Murphy knew, it would remain there for ever. Jeffrey told me that I should ever mention this to anyone, and I assured him that I wouldn’t. And you all know me, I always keep my word.