Celtic Illumination, part 346, Gucci, Jaguar, Rolex, Cartier, Bushmills.
With the madness of the festive season out of the way I reassessed the situation. I felt that I had passed the test I had set myself, which was that when in the armed forces we had always talked about doing any job at all in civvie street to survive. I had considered driving a taxi to be pretty low down on the scale of things I would like to do and therefore challenged myself to drive a taxi. Having another writer alongside me did make things so much easier. I enjoyed getting out and about and meeting all flavours of people. The only person who was making any real sort of money out of the taxi driving was the fellow who owned the company.
It was possible to make a living, but to use a sort of analogy; if you owned a formula one racing car you wouldn’t plough a field with it. I’m not saying that I am a formula one motor car, not with legs like mine, probably more a work of art, but I’m sure you get my drift. Thing is that no one wanted to employ ex members of the armed forces and it is only these days, with sufficient research completed, that we can see that civilians actually did refuse to consider ex armed forces personnel as they thought they would be too stuck in their ways. Since leaving the armed forces I was not very impressed with the ability of any of the people I had worked for, in fact I couldn’t believe that the country actually worked. So as I had stuck at being a taxi driver for six weeks I decided that enough was enough.
There would be aspects of it that I would miss like not knowing where to look or what to say when a couple decide to start have sex on the back seat. I mean where do you put yourself, what do you do or say? I suppose the only decent thing to do is turn up the radio and try to whistle along with whatever tune is on. For the second week in January I was confined to bed with an extreme case of man flu. On settle day I came in and shocked the owner of the firm as he was stood standing with his hand out, expecting me to drop a couple of hundred quid in. I dropped the keys to my taxi in his hand and told him that I was finished. He wasn’t impressed and for one of the most ignorant men I have ever met suddenly he had standards. This was not the proper way to behave in business, I should have given him a weeks’ notice, this was ungentlemanly behaviour. I couldn’t have been arsed arguing with him so I gave him a half-hearted wave and left.
It was nice to walk away from taxi driving and I was very pleased with myself for doing it in the first place. I suppose I was worried that I could have been conning myself, but I now knew that I was man of my word, and although it might not mean anything to anyone else it did mean a lot to me. I returned home and settled back in to writing for celebrities. The only drawback with the job of ghost writer was that when everything was going swimmingly, when the contracts had been signed and the book completed, the celebrity would actually come across as believing they had written the piece themselves. I know it was part of the job and I wasn’t really looking for any glory but I do have to admit that it hurt a little seeing them get praise for my talent.
I had started to pester Jeffrey that I wanted my own books and stories published, but Jeffrey kept telling me that no publisher would be interested in me. He kept saying that matter how good a writer you might have been, the first question a publisher asks is, ‘What will sell this book?’ You could see and still do see, people who have been involved in all sorts of shenanigans with minor celebrities or politicians getting book deals, so I knew that I would have to get involved in some crazy publicity stunt to get my own work published. Strange that you spend years perfecting your art form and no one is interested when you make the grade. And strange too that even though I got on very well with all of the publishers I worked with not one of them would be interested in me under my own name.
The main target of my publicity campaign remained the thief, cheat, and liar, Paul O Grady. I wonder if he would remain as the ‘housewives favourite’ if they knew he stole food from my children’s mouths. I followed him very carefully and would write to the manager of any theatre or venue where he was appearing, advising them to be very cautious as the man was a thief. Any show on the television that was in any way investigative would be contacted and asked if they would be interested in investigating the thief Paul O Grady, as I probably wasn’t the only person he had ripped off. I’m sure that many of the people I contacted must have thought I had escaped from the looney bin for the day but I wasn’t doing it to win friends and influence people.
As the trade of ghost writer was readily accepted in America I began to approach American celebrities and study the American market. I stayed away from the major A list celebrities and focused on the more active, reality television, types. I think the first one we contacted was, Terry Gene Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan. I was looking for people with that showman quality, the type of person who would go out and ‘sell’ the books and in the doing so, make more money for the pair of us. There is one very successful showman in Amercia who interested me greatly and that was Fabio. Fabio Lanzoni was a fashion model who apart from appearing on the covers of hundreds of romance novels actually fronted many books himself. I could never, and still cannot, understand how this worked. Ghost writers produced the books and Fabio simply pretended to write them, it was an open secret, yet he sold millions.
I suppose we have a similar situation here in the UK with the model Jordan. I have to admit up front that I do not like Jordan as a person but as a businesswoman you have to admire what she has achieved. She has a line of romantic books, which everyone knows are ghost written, but she has taken things a little further. She actually negotiates with people for their products; I’m talking high end products here. In one case she managed to get one company to give her a selection of wristwatches. These are the type of wristwatch that stupid people buy, the sort that cost thirty thousand pounds each. Jordan told the manufacturer that if they gave her the watches she would refer to them in her novels, product placement, and give them huge publicity. How clever was that, downmarket yes, but clever. The only way we got to find out about her product placement schemes was that the ghost writer complained that having already written a novel; she was told to re-write it and give the watches good coverage.
So if anyone ever suggests that I am up to the same hi-jinks, just because I happen to repeatedly mention, in glowing terms, the new XF range of Jaguar motor cars, especially green ones with wire spoke wheels, it would be pure coincidence. The worst aspect of dealing with the American market was that we were still using snail mail; the internet hadn’t taken off yet, so the waiting really frustrated me. I was still chasing and working with UK based celebrities and Jeffrey was still advising caution. So it was that I found myself flicking through a local free newspaper that was delivered to our house each week. I still gave the job section a glance over each week, just in case, and one week saw an advert for a driver. And not just any old driver but someone who held a Lancashire private hire drivers license.
I had made sure that I had earned back all the money I had spent on getting my license, but I still had it, so I applied for the job. It was for a company in Southport called Lugga Bus. They were primarily an airport transfer company dealing with Manchester and Liverpool airports although sometimes they would take passengers to ports like Southampton if they were going on a cruise. I went to Southport and met the boss Arthur. I would not be expected to buy or hire a vehicle, I would drive one of the company vehicles and get paid per trip, the only drawback is that sometimes I might have to sit at one of the airports for a couple of hours. I didn’t mind at all, I could get on with editing my work, so I agreed that I would become an airport transfer driver for Lugga Bus, let the good times begin.