Chapter Eight

New Beginnings

 

I decided to leave everything. I was sick, had headaches every day, and was using pills to wake up and more pills to get to sleep. I could not think logically any more. Everything was going wrong. I could not face another day of violence, death and deceit.

I went to see Brian Epstein. I stayed with him for a few weeks and he helped me through. He offered me a job to work with him as his personal assistant but I told him that I’d temporarily had enough of show business. I then went to live in Morocco for a few months to re-assess my life. I was now only 24 years old.

On returning to London, I met an old friend who let me stay with him in his flat in Baron’s Court. His name was John Bradshaw and he was tall, blond and elegant. The girls went berserk to seduce him. He introduced me to London night life. He and his friend were crazy about gambling so we would spend night after night at Quents or Crockfords or any other of the numerous gambling houses. I learned club gambling the hard way and lost a lot of money to start with. John and I decided to rent a house in Nottingham which was only 100 miles up the motorway from London.

I think that it is worth mentioning now that the date today is 13th October 1983 and we are still on board the Trimaran “Survival”. It is now over two years since I started to write this book. My friends left two years ago and I continued living on board with my girlfriend who I met in Panama the week that the others left. We are now anchored in a mangrove swamp in the Bahamas Islands and the reason I stop my train of thought is because outside this cabin, the first hurricane of the season is blowing. The winds are up to 50 mph but I feel safe because I have run the boat into the mangroves and tied eight ropes to the strongest of the trees. We also have five anchors laid in the mud. The radio tells us that the eye of the hurricane is only 50 miles away to the North East. Only if the storm decides to change course by 45 degrees will it come anywhere near to us. And so, now to continue with my book..

The main reason why John and I decided to move to Nottingham was because it was generally known that Nottingham had more women than men. Besides, John and I had decided to go into the motor trade, buying and selling cars. His family were the biggest motor dealers in the North so John had been brought up amongst Jaguars and Rolls Royce cars. He knew the business and I was about to learn from him.

Maureen and my dog Rex, also came to live with us. The agency and all my former clubs were no longer, except for the one that I least expected to continue and continues to this very day. The first ‘CubiK’ in Birkenhead, my family continued to run for a few more years before selling it to Mr Norman Baker. It is now called Ma Baker’s and is accepted as part of the establishment.

John and I became a common sight at the various motor auction houses. We would buy in the more expensive kind of car, Jags, Daimlers, Rolls etc. Then we would clean them up and then advertise them in the daily papers. We did this for a while then decided to return to London. Maureen stayed in Nottingham. She had found a good job managing a boutique and her future prospects were good.

On our return to London, John and I rented a small basement in Queens Court, Bayswater. We spent a lot on buying all the latest trendy clothes and went out to all the 'in' places. We were really the boys, the Casanovas of Kings Road, Chelsea. Every night we had a different girl (or girls, as we enjoyed the occasional orgy). We bought a projector and watched blue movies. We also enjoyed watching the innocent girls that we brought back to our flat as they got excited as they watched the sex scenes that they could not have even imagined. We had a steady supply of drugs and were stoned most of the time. Smoking hash was then a relatively new thing in London and so we got pleasure in turning people on for their first time. It was not long before our small apartment became well known as the ‘Temple of Love and Lust’.

After a while we tired of that scene and returned to the gambling clubs to find our luck. Soon after, Paddy joined us. The Wigan club had been closed down by the police. Paddy told me that the club went down because I was not sending any more big names and so he turned it into a strip club of a different nature. He continued with rock groups, also girls. The girls would do sex shows with each other whilst the band played trippy rock music. He, of course, kept them stuffed with drugs. Acid had just come on to the scene so one night, Paddy told me that the police arrived whilst the naked girls were sucking off the musicians as they played an incredible number. The police closed the club and Paddy split the scene.

Now there were three of us in the London flat. Our gambling had once again taken its toll on our finances and we were almost broke. John didn’t mind so much as he knew that one day he would inherit the family fortune. He had a brother Christopher and a sister Julie. Christopher had his own flat in London. He was gay and even though he was a couple of years younger than John, he earned good money working for Vidal Sassoon as a hairdresser to the most rich and trendy women about town.

Julie, known in theatrical circles as Julie Shaw, was an up and coming actress. She had appeared in a few films, including One Million Years B.C. with Racquel Welch. She was also in the popular T.V. series ‘The Avengers’ with Honor Blackman. John and I would often spend the day on the set of 2000 years B.C. at Elstree Studios, watching Julie doing her stuff. Julie was a bi-sexual and even though we had sexual relations on various occasions, she appeared to prefer women. I suppose, looking back now, I was too much of a rough diamond.

She used to take John and me to the lesbian clubs so we had to act as if we were gay otherwise they would not let us in. Usually the clubs were run by lesbians so we had to get past the dyke doorwoman. If Christopher came with us we had no problems as he was well known in those circles. John, Julie and Christopher used a lot of drugs and I also accompanied them but I was slowly becoming aware of the dangers ahead.

One night, Julie invited us to a party at The Purple House. She told us that the ‘Purple Man’ had seen us at the lesbian club, known as ‘Strings’. I hesitated but accepted when she told us that we would be the only other men there apart from the bi-sexual host. We dressed in our most beautiful clothes and the chauffer-driven Rolls Royce came to collect us. The Purple House was situated at the end of a mews in the elegant area of Belgravia. As we approached, I saw the two large columns of marble standing on two large pink elephants. The columns were supporting an archway and large wrought iron gates. The gates swung open electronically as our carriage entered. Once through the gates we passed through the gardens with beautiful erotic statues each depicting different sexual positions. Julie told me that each statue represented the Kama Sutra positions of enlightenment. I was amazed; I had never seen such an open display of what I then considered pornography.

The house was more like a miniature castle. At the entrance, surrounded by a strange group of people, sat an extremely fat person. As the car came to a stop, one of the people dressed in the uniform of a fox hunter, stepped forward to open the door of the Rolls. Julie, John and Christopher got out first. As I sat waiting my turn and looking through the window, I saw that the fat man dressed in purple robes was apparently a cripple. Well he must have been for he was sitting in a throne-shaped wheelchair.

My turn came and I got out. “Hello my dears” said the purple man. “Welcome to my humble abode and feel free to frolic, for tonight you will join us in indulgence. I sincerely hope that you will live your sexual fantasies to the full. Now meet my other friends.” There were about 30 other people. I say people because it was too early to know whether they were really men or women. There were certainly some girls present, one dressed in a bunny girl costume and another dressed in very small see-through bra and panties. There was another dressed in a tight leather suit wearing a studded neck band, high heels and whip in hand and yet another wearing an outfit made entirely with bananas. Only the space on her body which was visible was where her breasts popped through. There was another dressed as a pussycat, another as a ballet dancer and one who was wearing a simple pinafore just as if she had come straight out of the kitchen. The others present were dressed in various uniforms. I remember the p, truncheon in hand and the Gestapo officer. One girl, dressed as a baby with a dummy in her mouth, really struck me as being very erotic.

The others said hello and one by one they each kissed us on the lips. The purple man spun his wheelchair around and rolled in through the large doorway and we all followed. Once inside we were confronted by the most majestic decoration I had ever seen. Obviously no money was spared in the decoration and as the night passed on I realised why. I found out that the purple man was the owner of a film studio, a multi-millionaire.

In the middle of the banquet hall was a large round table covered in mediaeval fare; stuffed piglet, pheasant, beef, salads, lobster, fish and fruits. The bar stood by the wall between two suits of armour. Over the other side of the hall was a large fireplace surrounded by leather sofas. In front of the sofas was a long low table on which were the drugs for use by all. There was an impressive display of small trays each with a different type of drug to choose from. There were pills and capsules of all colours, shapes and sizes. There were powders and herbal substances. The purple man told us to help ourselves to whatever tickled our fancy. John and I feeling a little out of place did not hesitate in pouring ourselves a glass of whisky and doing a couple of slopes [i.e. lines of cocaine, named after 'ski slopes']. The party was great, in fact one of the best parties that I can remember.

The foxhunter made a special cocktail which she/he passed around. Everybody drank the ceremonial cup and then they began to get into one another. The rest of the night passed in a sort of haze from which I only remember passing glimpses. The purple man had the girls help him to mount a large wooden rocking horse and as he sat there, naked with his wobbling fat and whip in his hand. He encouraged the girls to make love to each other and he whooped and hollered. The next thing I vaguely remember was seeing everybody in a mass on the thick carpet. I guess we must have joined in about then.

The next morning, or should I say midday, I awoke to find myself in the garden house with the baby sucking on her new dummy!! It sure felt good. I heard the hustle and bustle of sounds coming from the kitchen, then someone calling “Breakfast, Wakey Wakey”. We slid slowly into the morning in a semi-conscious dream state. The drugs were still in our systems. The breakfast was a half-hearted affair, a lightness and bonhomie. The purple man did not even show his face. One of the girls said that it was impossible to wake him up. In fact I never saw more than about eight people in total. Eventually one of the girls gave us all a lift home. John and I were dropped off first at our flat. Paddy was waiting to hear all about the party.

The next day after the drugs had finally worn off, the three of us decided to get it together to earn some money. John and I had been offered jobs as extras at the film studios but after watching Julie working sometimes from daybreak to nightfall under those hot studio lights, we declined. We decided instead to enter the fashion and fur toy business. To start with we would collect all the fur scraps from all the dustbins around the area in London where they specialised in making fur coats. Every day if we were there first and waiting, these firms would throw away sackfulls of fur off-cuts we and in the next street we could find various sized pieces of floral materials used in the manufacture of curtains.

The cardboard rolls that the material came off, were what we used for the bodies of our fur toys. We cut the cardboard tubes into lengths of various sizes, then we glued on the fur. For feet we stuck on leather off-cuts and the head was simply another colour of fur. We stuffed the tube with foam rubber then attached a pair of glass eyes which we bought from a doll maker’s supplier. With the floral material we made very simple slim ties for men or women. Now with our stock ready, we went out to sell our wares. Christmas was fast approaching and so that meant that there were plenty of potential customers on the streets.

Oxford Street was in the process of being repaired, so there were numerous hoardings around Oxford Circus. We bought a couple of fold-up decorator’s tables, a cover and set up our shop there in the street alongside the Underground entrance. Our crude signs read, “Genuine Handmade Fuzzbugs, The TV Toys”. About that time the television programme magazine 'TV Times' was using a small furry animated cartoon character to advertise their magazine on television, so everyone knew Mr TeeVee the Fuzzbug. In a couple of hours we had sold all our stock of fuzzbugs and ties. The ties were so popular because “Lord John” of Carnaby Street had just launched the new fashion for flowery clothes and the rock group The Kinks had a number one hit with 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion'.

Our first day on the streets, we made a fortune, £360, although the police had threatened to arrest us if we continued. We knew that the fine for street trading was only £2 and so it was worth it to pay once or twice a day. The other traders told us of the dangers of our new found money-maker. So far as the police were concerned, they had a job to do and if the pitch was too big or it attracted too big a crowd at the same time, then it would impede the passage of pedestrians. Then the police would arrest us for ‘Obstructing the Public Highway’ but as one of us was taken away, the other would set up shop somewhere else when the police were out of sight. The police would normally only keep us long enough to get our name and address and charge us. We would then have to appear before the magistrates the next morning at 10 o’clock to pay the fine. We always pleaded guilty to speed up the process. The police, ourselves and the authorities considered this fine to be like a rent.

The other danger to the street traders was the organised gangs that controlled the pitches in town. They had there own pitch minders who were thugs employed by the bosses of the organised Barrow Boys. East Enders or Cockneys, as they were generally known, were usually true Londoners and their families before them had been traditional street vendors for many generations. They guarded their interests in whatever way they deemed necessary. The gangs also had other interests which included strip clubs, pornography, drug dealing and other profitable shady businesses. Since then, the leaders and some members of the gangs have become well known for their cruel and vicious activities. Two of the brothers are still in prison in England for torture and murder.

We were approached by one of their minders who told us that we be expected to pay our taxes to him for protection and that we were only allowed to stay on Oxford Circus until the repairs were made. He went on to tell us that it was one of their established pitches but because of the repairs, they had temporarily ‘moseyed’ off. Paddy asked them what they would do to us if we did not pay. He replied by opening his coat to show us a shoulder holster containing a gun. Then he told us that he normally only shoots at the legs the first time and then went on to tell us about the guy that they tarred and feathered for missing his payments. He also told us about the guy that they had crucified on Hampstead Heath. Well by now I suppose that we were supposed to be trembling with fear but we had also come from a rough environment. We’d heard it all before. I spoke up to tell the guy that from that day forth, we would also be armed and that if he got one of us, then the other would ruin him permanently with acid. He apparently was not expecting that from what appeared to be three greenhorns from up north. He took his leave, telling us that he would be back the next day.

The next day I was wearing under my coat an empty gun holster which had been quickly fashioned by me at my flat on our return the previous day. I stood to the side of the pitch looking as serious and as hard as I had seen the gangsters in the movies do. John and Paddy took care of the mass of customers and I waited and minded. About 2.30 pm, ‘Hard Dave’ arrived with a friend. Paddy and John spoke with them then Paddy turned around to open the front of my coat just enough for them to see the bottom of the leather holster. This obviously surprised them and they left immediately saying that we’d be sorry. As they were walking away; I called to them and when they turned around, I was ready with my camera. I took their photo and then told them that if anything happened to anyone of us, they would be the ones that would be sorry as we would bring the Liverpool boys down to sort them out. I knew that they would not do anything to us after that. Sometime later I had another more vicious confrontation with them, which I will refer to in due course.

Our sales were so good that we advertised in the local newspapers for outworkers to make the goods in their own homes. We were now buying full Belgian rabbit skins from a fur coat manufacturer and rolls of floral-patterned material from a material warehouse.

We had increased our line to include fully reversible fur waistcoats, fur ties, hats, cushions and fur muffs for ladies. We also sold the skins to people who wanted to make their own things. We sent for more of our people from the North and set up pitches all the way down Oxford Street and into Carnaby Street.

Each pitch with its various fur items on display and its long-haired, fur-clad salesmen looked like something out of the Stone Age. It was a totally different approach. Up until then, the everyday barrow boy or street vendor had tried to look snappy – flashy like the image portrayed by the cinema of the typical Cockney, the ‘Flash Harry’ or ‘Fast Boy’.

We made money and gave employment to many people. Everything was going fine until the sellers started messing with drugs and selling dope through the pitches. The police were constantly searching and finding dope on our pitches and sellers. We decided to give it a rest. Paddy got a job, more out of curiosity than necessity as a manager of a Blue Star bingo hall. First he had to go on a short managerial course. I’m sure he must have freaked out the others as he was now accustomed to wearing a bowler hat along with his extra large black suit and baggy but always well pressed trousers. He had bought himself a second hand Rolls Royce car with the profits that he had made on the streets. The bowler hat and the Rolls set him apart from the others. The bingo clubs also ran on the side a game called Legalise. this was a kind of roulette played all afternoon and up until 10.30pm.

Paddy found out that the clubs had to win money over a period of time. The one who held the bank over a period of hours (normally the house) won 12% because of the positions and quantities of the numbers on the spinning wheel. But the gambling laws of that time only continued to allow this game to be played in the bingo halls, provided that the game was equal to all players. A sign to this effect had to be on show at the place of the game. Now the house would try to discourage anyone else from taking the bank by placing large bets if they took the bank and or psychological ways to put off the prospective bank-taker. Paddy learned which clubs in and around London was taking the most money and at what times of the day the bank was most favourable to be taken. John, Paddy and I decided to go into business as bank-takers. We dressed ourselves in the soberest of clothes, the type that plainclothes police would be suspected of wearing if they wanted to remain inconspicuous. We practised the ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ stand (the name came from a T.V. programme about a policeman). His characteristics were those used by most up and coming policemen. The most common was a way in which one stands with hands together behind one’s back. Then sort of rocking to and fro from the heels of one’s feet to the toes; and at the same time lifting the heels of the feet to raise one’s body to a tip-toe position. On reaching the tip-toe position, one gives an understanding throaty ‘Mmmmmm’ as much as to say, ‘Ah yes now I see it all’. Then one takes out of one’s inside pocket a small black notebook and making the same foot movements, one commences to make notes as if one knows and now understands all he sees before him.

Using these methods the asking for the bank please in a very confident way, we could work each club for a few weeks before the managers finally got help from the owning syndicates. Then they had to find out from their men through various discreet channels, if we were really the police and when to cut our gains. They had to arrange for their own men to be there to also take the bank from us. We did this for a few months but the clubs geared up by arranging their own bank-takers. Our faces became known. Paddy, looking more like a policeman than any of us, continued on his own in the suburbs of London. Meanwhile John and I decided to go back to car dealing. We had a plan to rob both the car auctions and the banks. I opened nine different accounts around London and the Midlands, all in different names. The accounts were opened with substantial cash deposits. I would then move the money around by making out ‘pay cash’ cheques to John who also used various other names to endorse the cheques on the back when he went to cash them. I accustomed the various banks into paying me cash from other branches. I would inflate then deflate the accounts fast to show that I was in the cash buying business.

At the same time and in my own name, I was building up the confidence of the various motor auction houses by buying expensive cars, at first with cash and as they got to know me, by cheque. I would sell most of the cars at other auctions in other parts of England and Wales. Sometimes we would lose a little or gain a little. Our plan was not to make a profit from dealing; it was to gain the confidence of the auctions so that when we were ready, we would buy a large quantity of expensive cars by cheque. The cheque would bounce because the other cheques which had been deposited in the account would also bounce. Meanwhile, John and I would have sold all the cars for cash at another auction in another city, miles away.

When we were ready, I drew out quantities of money from various branches of the same bank all on the same day. I would first deposit a cheque which would seemingly cover all the withdrawals. For nine day I did the same thing with different banks in different names and in different parts of England. The next week saw John and I and a team of delivery drivers, moving a quantity of Rolls Royces and Jaguars across the border to Wales. We sold them all for cash. That money, together with the bank money, gave John and me more than £20,000 each in cash. We were temporarily rich.

We returned to London with the loot. We knew that if we were traced by the auctions, they could not get the police after us for I had used my own name in the dealings. I thought therefore that we would only get into trouble for debt. The banks were another story however. They would not want the scandal of being conned out of the money so easily. Obviously, if they called in the police, the newspapers would get the story. That would show how to borrow some money without the actual permission of the bank manager. I felt reasonably safe back in London once again.

We rented a very large apartment and hit the nightspots. One night I met a girl, well most nights I met girls but this one was different. She was a titled girl. She was the daughter of a Lord and Lady. I was impressed by her personality and her openness about sex. She came to live with John and me for a while. I didn’t know that she was known by the leaders of the gangs, the underworld types. By now they knew about us from the street trading incident and the gambling. We had stepped on their toes and now we were living with a time-bomb.

We were all three of us in a nightclub one night, when I saw ‘Katie’ our girlfriend talking to some heavy-looking guys. I recognised one of them to be a well known gangster. I saw him instruct one of his men to come over to us. We were advised that they knew the whole story and that we must visit them the next day in a well known pub in the East End of London. John and I took no notice. It is now apparent that Katie must have found out all about our banking activities from searching through our papers. The cheque books gave us away. On returning home that night, we found that our briefcase of papers was missing. We packed up our things and left the flat that very night and we went to stay with Paddy for a few days.

It was during those few days that I decided to visit Brian Epstein. By now Brian was the biggest manager in show business. He prepared a beautiful dinner for me. After dinner we drank several bottles of wine and smoked some Thai Stick. Then he set about telling me about all his problems.

The Beatles, it seemed, were involved with some American gangsters, and these gangsters, as Brian called them, wanted to take over the management contract. He told me that there had been several attacks on his life. His car had been sabotaged, and on two occasions somebody had tried to knock him down. (It was John LENNON!) He told me how terrified he was and asked me to stay and work for him. In fact he cried. He needed somebody's shoulder to cry on. Brian told me he needed to take pills to sleep at night because of his fear and because of his fear he had strong latches on his bedroom door so that they couldn't attack him while he was asleep. However he couldn't sleep with the windows closed, and he felt that they might get in through the windows. His bedroom was several floors high, and had a balcony overlooking the road below. The houses on both sides of his also had balconies and so I designed for his balcony a. metal wrought iron cage. He thought it was a good idea and said that he would see to it in the next few weeks.

While we were up there and working on a suitable design, taking the measurements etc, Brian showed me the pictures on his walls. He had four hand-painted pictures of various Queens’ Guards, and he pointed them out saying that these were his own personal guards and he hoped that they were doing a good job and would do so in the future. He was so sensitive and superstitious. I stayed at his house for a few nights, and he gave me the bedroom next to his and said that he would sleep well whilst I was there as he had seen me in action on several occasions at the clubs. He was referring to the numerous fights that we used to have on the doors.

I think this is the place to mention the fact that Brian was psychologically a female even though he was born in a man's body, and so wanted to do female things to me, which at that time was no skin off my nose because I enjoyed sexual satisfaction. But I state now there was no buggering only sucking. Let's face it, why not if it makes him happy and it's enjoyable to me. 

The next day was Saturday. I was woken up by the noise of a commotion downstairs. I could hear some men banging about so I got up, and as I was dressing Brian called me from downstairs. He was excited. A large packing case had arrived. It was sitting openly in the middle of the sitting room floor. Brian said that it must be a present, but he was just a little bit afraid to open it. He said, "Suppose it's a bomb?" He walked around and around the ominous crate. Suddenly the phone rang. It was one of the Beatles. They had phoned to ask Brian whether or not he had received a surprise. "Oh yes," replied Brian, "I'm just about to open it" Now he put the phone down, all the fear had gone.

He opened the crate and inside was one of the very first video machines including a new video camera, screen, projector, sound recorder and film-making gear – a present from the ‘Boys’. Peter Brown, Brian’s assistant, arrived so Brian re-introduced me and told Peter that I was helping him out. After opening up the box, and experimenting with the new toys Brian and I went for a short walk down the King's Road where Brian bought me a white evening suit from the shop Take 6. That night we had dinner at his house prepared by his personal butler who served to us and the new guest. He was in fact their cartoonist. After dinner and a couple of spliffs with champagne, Brian dismissed the other fellow and he and I went out in Brian’s Rolls Royce. Our first stoned stop was a visit to the West End private nightclub 'Pickwick’s' to meet a very good mutual friend Trevor Morais. He was the drummer formerly with the bands Faron’s Flamingos and Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. Trevor now had a new group appearing there by the name of The Peddlers, managed by Brian. Trevor was happy to see us together and he reminisced over the many occasions he and his band had played at my clubs in the North.

After the midnight hour Brian and I drove to the London house of our mutual friend Lionel Bart. His house was a ‘castle’ in the city. The house itself was in its own grounds surrounded by a tall wall. As we drove up the driveway in Brian’s Rolls, I saw large Flamingos on the roof. On arrival, the butler showed us in and we were welcomed by our other mutual friends, Lionel Blair and Eric Burdon. We all had drinks and enjoyed chatting about groups and music. Lionel had arranged our LSD trip and we tripped the rest of the night away, the sauna being the highlight of the acid trip. Several other young artistes joined us for the steam-room treatment, including a certain Davy Bowie or look alike. Brian introduced me to the others as his old friend and new personal assistant. Over a period of time Brian and I regularly visited the Lionel’s and partook of their original hospitality. It was only my arrest that tore me away from that strange druggy life.

On our way back to Brian’s London mansion I agreed to accept the job as his personal assistant but I told him that I needed a week to get my things together. He asked me to sleep with him in his bed, saying he was so scared as the acid had not worn off yet. Lying in that king-size enormous bed with the four paintings of the Queens Guards above the bedhead, he said they were his personal guards but now I was there with him he felt much safer. He opened his bedside chest of drawers which contained all his medicaments and sleeping tablets, uppers; Purple Heart pills, Valium, Romilar [dextromethorphan] pills etc. He said that the keys were normally kept in the downstairs kitchen cabinet for added security, as once before he had woken up in the night, and taken a second double dose of sleepers which almost killed him. So he learnt his lesson to keep the keys well away from temptation, or mistakes of double dosing.

I therefore know for sure that Brian did not die by his own mistake of overdosing but by forced administration of a fatal dose. It seems obvious to me that the man that he wanted me to protect him from, eventually got him; that same man who had tried to run Brian down when Brian was called to his Surrey mansion, the same man that was Brian’s other lover!