“You don’t have to have been an arsonist to be a fireman.” – Me.
Ys, ys, yes, a-hoho. A self-indulgent quote from a self-indulgent guy sitting at an old desk, watching the rain drip from the overgrown honeysuckle hanging across the glass of the window opposite. I should really be doing the washing up, or writing ten pieces I’ve been offered by an Editor of a large, vicious, niche sporting magazine. I’ve ignored his emails for about two months now. Easily done, on the face of it, but in this business, profile is everything: without somebody reading something you’ve written, you are not alive. Nor are you relevant.
You are also poor.
And then there is the ‘Book’, the thought of which is sending shivers of terror down my spine, arms, and inner eyelids, when I close them and try to forget the whole situation isn’t actually happening – which is frequently. Many good things can be accomplished with a bit of impulse and drive, but being chained to something as terrible as a book on one of the most dangerous men in the UK is something not really akin to painting the fence, or building a patio. In my case, any patio being built around here may well contain a fourteen stone, five foot ten, rotting corpse under it if I don’t deliver on a ridiculous promise I made in the middle of a Belgian forest at around midnight.
It had been an awful journey.
After a sleepless night on a North Sea ferry – trying to avoid the stag parties and a wanton Malaysian waiter – I’d plodded down a gangplank and into a blacked out car containing two very large Irish Travellers. Two hours later I was in a snowy compound in a forest of pines, being given great hospitality by someone once referred to by the Serious Organised Crime Squad as “Our number one target”, with an estimated ill-gotten fortune of £200,000,000. Yes. Imagine that. We struck the book deal at around midnight in a huge log cabin. A large TV was silently throwing out the boxing bouts of the evening above the stone fireplace. Someone, somewhere, was getting his head kicked in. I wondered if I was next.
The rain has stopped, now. Amazing how that can shift a mood. Well, I’ve put down my voice recorder with its forty plus hours of amazing interviews with my dangerous friend (yes, he regards me as a friend now. And, in truth, it’s reciprocated), and I’m off to make a cup of tea and wonder if another pregabalin tablet will ease the situation further. In another reality I am sitting under a palm tree and watching unicorns frolicking in the crystalline surf, and people don’t have guns or bombs, and nobody forces anyone to drink petrol, then sets them on fire, or hangs them out of helicopters over Monaco.
And those things have happened. I am the gatekeeper of some of them.
Three sugars in my tea now. It used to only be one.