100 HOURS

 

Friday, 31st January - 6:00 AM: my alarm wakes me up. Ahead of me is a 175 mile drive. I'd arranged to go up to Dave's and accompany him to the Misunderstood charity event. Misunderstood is a charity which helps kids with ADHD and Dave is their patron. I was due to stay with Dave and Jen for a couple of days to discuss the website. Before I left there was a morning's frenzy of activity, ensuring that the website was updated. Keeping the site up to date with all the latest information is one of the most important things I do to keep you, the viewer, coming back.

Jacket Typically, when I arrived at Camelot Castle on Friday afternoon Dave wasn't in. "He's gone to the shops" said Jacket, "he shouldn't be long."

Jacket is a real down-to-earth man ... no pretenses, no embellishments, just plain and straight talking, what-you-see-is-what-you-get. So I bided my time talking to Jacket about his younger days, his time in prison and involvement with Reggie Kray. Now, there's a whole story right there!


Finally, Dave walked in with an arm full of jackets. Not just ordinary jackets, but Dave Courtney type jackets. "Try this on Mal" he said, handing me the black and white checked one on top.

"Nah! Bit too small" I said, after trying to button it up.

"OK, try this." He thrust a black jacket with dragon motif on each shoulder at me.

"Very tasty Dave, but still too small" I said, disappointed as hell.

We went through the stack until one fitted.

"Nice" I said to another black check number.

"Happy Christmas Mal" smiled Dave, "It's yours. Wear it tonight. Now, listen to this and tell me what you think."

Kerpow! Gangster Rap blared out of the CD player. It was Dave, givin' in large with "The Commandments of Dave Courtney", including such classics as "The meek shall inherit the Earth .... when the strong fuckin' say so" and "The pen is mightier than the sword .... but only if the pen is the size of a baseball bat!" This was followed by "Masonic", a chilling narrative about the power that the funny-hand-shake brigade wield over us all. Finally there was a track entitled "Coloured", spoken by a deep black voice and all about the superficial differences between black and white, with a wicked punch line that I'm not gonna give away here!

At 7 pm Dave, Jacket, Hamish (the writer of Dave's next film, "Get Courtney") and myself walked into an empty Royal Function Rooms in Rochester for the Karaoke King and Queen competition, organised to raise funds for Misunderstood. We were followed in by Ria, the incredible lady who set up the charity, and her mum, Jaqui (who happens to be my cousin) and Jaqui's son, Sam, who was running the Karaoke side of things. The doors opened just after 7:30. Well, they did after we discovered that there were people freezing their nuts off outside who couldn't get in because of a large padlock on the door, and by eight o'clock the rooms were buzzing with over a hundred people. The judges (Dave, Ria, Hamish and Sanjay - the boss of Veena Leisure) took their seats and the night's entertainment began.

Dave with the Karaoke contestants. There's a much better pic on Gallery 6.

The contestants were a mixture of talents. Some of them were quite brilliant. Most were very good, but one or two, like the guy who tried to speak a rap number but couldn't keep up, were a disaster. The decision who should be the overall winner seemed a difficult choice until a late entry hit the stage. "Crazy Pete" did a version of Shaggy's "Mr Boombastic" that will probably never been equaled. The best way I can describe it is like John Cleese on acid. Even that doesn't do him justice. Pete brought the house down and tears of laughter were running down everyone's cheeks, including the judges. Pete won the contest hands down. It was the funniest thing I've seen for years and I wish I had a video of that performance ... I'd watch it any time I was feeling a bit down. In fact, if it could be bottled there'd be no need for Prozac.

Dave and the winner, "Crazy Pete".
Dave and "Crazy Pete"

(I'd better just point out that this "Mad Pete" is not the same "Mad" Pete written about by Dave in his books.)

By the end of the event we'd made a quick count of the proceeds, which amounted to over 400. Result! Mad Pete did a final romantic duet with the winner of the "Queen" title, the delicious Michelle Ferrer, and it was all over by 10:30. The whole event had been run very professionally and had been such a success that Ria was already planning the next one. Gotta hand it to Ria for her energy.

Then it was a brisk walk round the corner to THE CITY WALL for a swift drink and meet some more people before crossing the road to Paul Stone's CASINO ROOMS in Blue Boar Lane.

There were seven of us following Dave to the head of the queue. A quick word with the doorman and Dave was in, followed by five of us. I had to go back to have a word with the door to let Damien and Emma in after they got lost in the scrum. Damien is a huge DC fan who came to the Karaoke event and Emma is his very beautiful lady.

The next few hours followed a familiar pattern, with a procession of people presenting themselves to Dave to shake his hand and have a bit of a chat, sometimes about old times, but more often than not just to make his acquaintance. Dave is big news and VERY popular wherever he goes! The surprise for me was that people wanted to talk to me because I am Dave's webmaster. As Andy Warhol predicted: this was my 15 minutes of fame, deserved or not.

Before we left, Dave made the acquaintance of a very vivacious lady who said she could gain us access to a nightclub down in Maidstone. The night was still far from over.

By the time we left The Casino Rooms it was 3:30, snowing and we were trying to sort the cars out for the drive down to Maidstone. Eventually we set off in three cars, only to receive a mobile call to say we'd left someone behind. As the only person who had an inkling of where we were going was the lady in Dave's car we all turned round and went back to pick the frozen person up. He jumped into Dave's car and we were off ... we thought. By this time the driver of my car had got thoroughly pissed off, decided he was too drunk to drive and that he was going to go home .... which he proceeded to do, followed by the rest of the entourage, through the backstreets of Rochester. Another reshuffle and I ended up in a car driven by Bolton Dave with a doorman from the nightclub in the back. Off we zoomed, with a great amount of "Where the fuck are we going" muttered around me and Bolton Dave sticking to Dave's car like super glue!

It was just before four when we skiied into Maidstone. Dave's car led us down a narrow alley and Dave directed us to park in a gap fit only for half a Bubble Car. After a dozen attempts Bolton Dave shoe-horned the car in, squeezed out and said "Where the fuck are they?"

We looked around. The others were nowhere to be seen. We tried phoning their mobiles .... all switched off. We tried tracking their footprints through the snow, but  it was now falling so heavily that even Tonto would have called it a day. So much for the Sherlock Holmes approach! We wandered into the centre of town and eventually bumped into a pair of likely looking lads staggering up the road. We asked them for directions to the club. "Ish dere mate" one of them slurred. Fuck me, we were standing right next to it! They don't half hide clubs well in Maidstone.

In we trouped. The few people on the dance floor looked like they were in the last knockings of "They Shoot Horses Don't They?" We walked over to the bar. "I'll have a Kronenburgh please" I said, ever polite.

"Sorry mate, I can only serve Coke at this time of the night" came the reply from the barman. All the way to Maidstone in a snowstorm for a fucking Coke, and a high priced Coke at that!

I picked up my Coke and walked over to where Dave was talking with the boss of the club.

"Hey Dave," I said, "I must include this place on the website. A great place if your desperate for a soft drink at four in the morning in Maidstone!"

The boss promptly walked over to the barman, had a word and a tray of pints was instantly produced for our consumption. No money changed hands, so no laws were broken. What a sensitive host!

For the next hour and a half we sat around chatting and put the World to rights, as you often do at that time of the morning. There were some funny old conversations, none of which should be committed to print, and a lot of good sense (and some real bollocks too) was talked. Strangely enough, when the talk got round to the subject of children everyone turned into sensitive human beings. Everyone was a parent and had the best kids in the world and everyone knew exactly what to do with nonces. Anyway, the World will be a much better place when all the plans we hatched are put into action.

So, it's about 5:30 on the Saturday morning and I'm sat next to Dave, who's piloting the car at Mach One through a full-scale blizzard back up the A2 with Bolton Dave's car all but touching our rear bumper. The heater had packed up in Dave's car and it was touch and go whether we'd arrive home before frost-bite set in (although at the speed we were going I was sure that the heat of re-entry would warm us up eventually). The lack of a heater also meant that the windscreen was constantly misting up, which just added to the sense of fun and heart-stopping danger we were enjoying.

Now, when driving under those conditions, with a couple of inches of virgin snow laying on the road ahead and visibility down to a short shag, one normally tries to ensure that one doesn't make any sharp maneuvers of one's motor vehicle, doesn't one? You may, therefore, imagine my slight surprise when Dave suddenly realised that they slip road we were passing was the one we should have been traveling on and made suitable and rapid adjustments.

He said "I think I've just lost Bolton Dave behind us!"

I looked over my shoulder and saw two very excited faces. "Nah Dave, he's just so close that you can't see his headlights in your mirror."

I have to compliment both Daves on their driving, but I wouldn't advise anyone with a weak ticker to ask either of them to take 'em out for a quick spin.

We arrived back at Camelot Castle just before the milkman. There we were, standing outside the front door in flurries of snow, when Dave announced that he didn't have a key. There was an almost perfectly synchronised chorus of "Ohhhhh fuck!". We were all turning into snowmen when Dave calmly knocked loudly on the door. An upstairs window opened and Jen called out "OK darling, I'll just pop down and let you boys in" .... NOT! The window shot open and Jen made it perfectly clear that she didn't really appreciate being woken up at the crack of dawn by four wallies. Well, to cut a long story short (which included everyone's lives flashing before their eyes) we gained access to the premises thanks to a very unimpressed Jen!

Now, I don't want to give the wrong impression about Jen. I've spoken to her for hours and hours, and a nicer person you couldn't wish to meet. She's intelligent, humorous, she has had infinite patience and strength through some really harrowing times and is a really caring mother. It's just that she reacts the way any normal person does when their beauty sleep is interrupted at half-past-cock-crow by four noisy blokes back from a hard night's clubbing.

The four of us sat around chatting and laughing, sometimes a little too loudly and there would be a hurried "SHHHH!", our eyes would flash to the stairs and, like imminently condemned men discussing escape plans, our voices would descend into low whispers. At some point Dave disappeared off to bed. Mid-morning there was a discussion about what to do next. Someone volunteered to cook breakfast at their place, then Bolton Dave pointed out that it was almost opening time and there were pool tables lying redundant and in urgent need of players in the local ale houses. So it was that at 10:55 I found myself outside the "Prince Albert" looking up at the landlady hanging out of an upstairs window in her nightdress. She was a gem though, and popped down to let us in before disappearing again to get dressed.

(Ah, almost forgot. Before we left I picked up the post from the doormat. On top of the pile was a postcard from Charlie Bronson. On one side was an original Bronson cartoon. On the other side was a message entitled "Never Nut a Moving Train" in which Charlie said that his parole was due soon and he was so confident of getting out that Joey had arranged for him to visit Disneyland so that he could kidnap Mickey Mouse! The man has a very wicked sense of humour, which I have no doubt is what sustains him.)

For the next four hours we drank, played pool and discussed villains, villainy and reputations. That was until around 3 pm when a very tall and menacing looking geezer wearing a long black trenchcoat and dripping in gold walked in, a mobile pressed to his ear. "Is there someone in here called Mal?" he boomed.

"Er, yeah." I heard myself calling back.

He walked straight back out of the bar without another word. Now, if you could have seen the faces on my two companions you would have had a story to tell your grandchildren. You could see them thinking "Shit! What the fuck has Mal been up to? Who's after him? What am I doing sitting so close to a marked man?" One of our number said "Right, I'm going outside." I half expected him to say "I may be sometime", but he continued: "I'll find out what all this is all about."

He didn't need to as, moments later, the doors burst open and in walked the tall geezer and .... Dave Courtney. Dave's network of spies had tracked us down. Well, it wasn't difficult really, as the pub was the first one you come to when you leave Dave's house and it's only some 400 yards from his front door. Put into context and now standing next to Dave, I recognised the tall guy as Dave's good friend, Roj. After a couple of further hours laughing, joking and chatting Dave turned to me and said "Right Mal, we've got work to do." That was the signal for everyone to go their separate ways. Dave climbed onto his bike and roared off down the road, I dragged myself into my car and purred off after him, grounding the motor on at least two sleeping policemen (at least I think they were sleeping before I hit them).

Jen and the kids were out for the night, so we had the house to ourselves. For several hours we worked, going through documents, letters, photographs, Dave explaining the story that went with each and every one. I've got to say that, while a lot of it was pretty serious stuff, some of the stories just cracked me up. Like the time that Dave found out that a police surveillance camera was being set up on the roof of a block of flats that overlooked his house. Dave blagged his way into the building using a very humorous document and left a funny letter by the camera for the surveillance team. I just had a very vivid picture of their faces when they discovered it.

At around ten o'clock we both announced, simultaneously, that we were starving.

"Any chippies around here?" I asked.

Dave gave me directions and off I went. When I found said chip shop it was closed. There was obviously a conspiracy going on. Someone wanted us to die of malnourishment! Now, I don't know Plumstead at all, but I went off hunting, just me and my bow and arrow, determined to trap some English chips. I discovered Indians, Chinese, Greeks, Italians, Kebab shops and a video hire place that looked like a chippie. I was on the point of returning to HQ to report my failure when an emporium emblazoned with the words "Fish & Chips" hove into view. I snuck up on it and lunged. Well actually, I parked just round the corner and wandered in. I eventually returned triumphant with a car full of chicken, pies, savaloys, wallies and chips. Thrown onto plates they didn't stand a chance, but at least their end was quick.

We worked through until four on Sunday the morning. Time to retire, but Dave gave me a copy of "Hell To Pay" to watch. Now, if you've been following the story so far you'll have noticed the complete absence of the phrase "and then I went to sleep". It had been 44 hours since I last slept, so I accepted the film and put it into the video machine in my room, thinking "I'll be asleep within minutes." It just didn't happen. I found the film so compelling that I just didn't fall asleep. When the film's credits finished I stuck "Lock, Stock" into the machine and watched it back-to-back for comparison. "Blimee" (or words to that effect) I said. "Two different films." It was only then that the arms or Morpheus wrestled me into slumber. Well, it was a no-contest really and the Big Morph got me KOed within a minute of the first round!

An hour later I was woken up by "noises off". With well-bleary eyes I got up and found Dave in the kitchen making a monster breakfast. He was expecting Cass Pennant around mid-morning. Cass, head of the ICF, was bringing three lads from Sheffield (at least I think it was Sheffield, so a big sorry lads if it was somewhere else, but my brain was only firing on one cylinder at the time) and we had a bit of tidying up to do before they arrived.

I loaded the dishwasher and prepared to do battle with the Dyson. My second fight of the day, but I was out for revenge after the defeat by Morph. Dyson didn't stand a chance, however many fucking cyclones he had in his armoury.

Well, by the time they turned up the place was in good order. Cass is a big, powerful man and when he shook my hand I got the distinct impression that, if he'd taken a dislike for me, he could have turned it into mincemeat without any real effort. As it happened, we got on very well. The synopsis to Cass' book "CASS" says:

Dave and Cass Pennant"He's been run through with a sword; He's been shot at point blank range; He's got reputation and respect as one of the hardest bastards in Britain... Cass Pennant is a man who lets his fists do the talking. One of the hardest men in Britain, he lives his life on the edge of the law, giving respect where respect is due and dishing out terrible retribution upon anyone who dares to cross him. Cass's life story reads like a Hollywood gangster movie. He tells how he was shot three times in the chest in a South London nightclub but still kept of fighting. As Cass says, 'I've been a bad lad and I've done some good in my life but I'm not ashamed of anything I've done or the choices I've made. I don't owe anyone anything. It ain't nobody's business but my own...' "

Shaun, Gary, Dave and MickyThere was obviously a great deal of mutual respect between Cass and Dave. The three likely-looking lads (Micky, Gary and Shaun - 'ello lads) were obviously impressed about being introduced to Dave. One of them gave Dave a long slim box: "It's a gift Dave, a measure of respect." Dave opened it with the help of a Swiss Army knife I produced from my pocket, which produced a typically smart-arse comment about boy scouts. Inside was a magnificently ornate Samurai Sword in a sumptuous red mahogany scabbard. I later tested the edge and, believe me, you could have shaved with the thing. Mind you, the thing was so big that if you'd have knicked yourself you'd probably end up dying from rapid blood loss.

After a lot of photographs had been taken and everyone had listened to Dave's new music tracks, the four of them left and it was time for us to go to church. Yeah, you heard me right. Sunday morning and we were heading off for church. Dave put one of his trademark suits on and a large, smart black great-coat over the top.

"I think there's some lint on the back, Mal, could you brush it off?"

I started brushing, but once the lint was off I continued with vigour.

"Is it THAT dirty, Mal?" asked Dave.

"Nah," I replied, "but this is the only chance I'm ever gonna get to say 'I beat Dave Courtney's arse'!"

Oh, how we did laugh - for all of a couple of seconds before it was time to leave.

The Christening at the Pentecostal Church in Brockly Dave went ahead on his bike and I followed on with Jen's son Jenson. We were heading for the Pentecostal Church in Brockly for Jen's nephew's christening. Ahhh, and there you were thinking that we'd got a big dose of religion! When we arrived there was loads of "Praise Jesus!" going on and everyone was having a very good time. I have to say that, after my experience at this particular church, if I ever did get religion of the christian persuasion (not very likely), I would definitely attend a Pentecostal church. It's the only one I've ever been to where no-one bats an eyelid if you get up, wander out for a nicotine break and wander back in again ten minutes later.

After the christening ceremony we all left for a huge christening party in a large hall at Charlton House. I arrived a little early so off I went for a swift drink with Jacket until they opened the doors. When we arrived back the hall was filling up, crowded with family and friends. Jen brought me a huge plate of wicked curry and rice and the beer was flowing freely. Jacket was swamped with kids, who seem to love him to bits. There were big smiles on everyone's faces - it was a real London kneesup! One slight catastrophe while I was eating. Some of the kids escaped with my digital camera (they learn early in London). By the time I retrieved it they'd accidentally pressed the delete pictures button. I hastily cancelled the function, but not before I'd lost the first thirty photos ... so there went all my masterpieces from the Misunderstood Karaoke evening.

Dave and I left the party early, as we had to go to the Talk the Talk launch party in Maidstone. Dave, Bernie and Stretch Unfortunately, no-one had thought to bring a key out with them, so, just to add a little more excitement to the weekend, we ended up having to break into Camelot Castle. Bernie (Agent Number 10) and his mate, Stretch, had driven down from Wales to go to the launch with us and another of Dave's pals, Mark C brought a brand new motor to drive us there. Time for some more photos. No sooner had the camera come out than Bernie whipped off his shirt: "You'll want to take the world famous tattoos then, boy." I was beginning to wonder just what sort of a group of people I'd gotten myself involved with.

Oh, and of course, we all listened to Dave's new music tracks a couple of times.

I spent some time talking to Bernie later on, and gained a huge respect for the man. If you're lucky enough to be a friend then he's a really straight man, but I wouldn't like to be someone who crossed him! He was quite proud of the fact that he had kept drugs out of his valley for ten years until the shear weight of numbers of dealers had become impossible to "deal with". You'll be able to read a lot more about Agent Number 10 after I've interviewed him for the upcoming "Meet the Boys" section.

Stretch was mooching around the house, picking up and brandishing every one he found (and there are a LOT of them!). He admitted, when cross examined "I just love guns." He picked up a Bren Gun. "Hey Mal, you've just gotta get one of me with this!"

"That's the Bren I tripped over last time I was here" I said, trying to sound knowledgeable.

"This ain't a fuckin' Bren, Mal, it's a [no idea what he said it was]" I was suitable humbled. I learned a lot about guns from Stretch, like the fact that "If you ever need to use a reliable weapon go for a Kalashnikov AK47, but make sure it's the genuine Russian job. They'll just go and go all day and have a killing range of 1500 metres." I tried to think of the times that I might need to use an automatic assault rifle all day. "Yeah," I thought, "Tescos can be a bitch on a Friday!"

We waited for a little while longer, until our "honour guard" of Outlaws turned up and then we set off for Maidstone. Modern luxury cars are a lot smaller inside than they used to be. I was in the back with Bernie (18 stone of muscle) and Stretch (18 stone) and I discovered that there's also not a lot of headroom when you're squished up against a side door. By the time we had been underway for a few minutes I was starting to understand how a Boa Constrictor's next meal must feel and thinking that I needed a quick Charles Atlas course just to build me strength up enough to be able to breath normally. Not possessing the powers of seeing into the future, I didn't for one moment think "this is a picnic compared to later." Read on to find out what I mean.

We arrived at Maidstone, found the club and the eight of us walked in mob-handed. I have got to say that I have never seen so many tasty faces in one room at the same time. Dave introduced me to everyone as "his webman". That seemed to make up for the fact that I felt like a dwarf against so many giants. The tallest I saw was a seven foot five black american basketball player (I still swear I saw snow on his hat). There was a lively set being played by the very competent band, UB4T.

Tony Lambrianou and me at the Talk the Talk launch party I recognised a face at the bar. "Oy Dave," I called "you've introduced me to everyone but this man."

"Ah, Mal, this is Tony Lambrianou, Tony, this is Mal, my webman."

And that's how I got to know Tony L. Dave took the camera from me saying that I really should have a photo of me and Tony for my scrapbook. SNAP! The only pic taken of me the whole weekend. I spent quite a while talking with Tony. He's a quietly spoken and polite man who was brought up in Bethnal Green, where my own family lived for many generations.

Dave gives an "Audience" at the Talk the Talk launch party.Dave and Duchy on stage at the Talk the Talk bash. Dave was then asked to "do a bit" and started delivering one of his famous and entertaining "Audiences With". The crowd were transfixed as he spoke about how naughty men can't be naughty once they hit the media headlines and about his accident (and his conversations with Elvis whilst under the influence of morphine). He said that there was a man in the audience who had been something of an inspiration to him while he was considering his injuries and brought onto the stage Duchy to give us an amazing display of gymnastics and fighting agility on two crutches.

Next up came Steve Wraith for what I'm sure I heard Jan say was a ten minute spot (I've now been put right by Jan who said it was IN ten minutes not FOR ten minutes, so that clears that one up). Steve spoke at length about the Krays, even producing a tape of Reggie which had been played to the crowd at a Newcastle football match, telling them to direct all enquiries about himself to Steve rather than to Charlie Kray. It was all extremely interesting. When he'd finished he asked if anyone had any questions. Someone piped up with something simple. This was Steve's signal to go off for another half an hour about the twins.

Steve asked if anyone had any other questions. No one dared make a noise, except Dave, who asked whether Steve could insert an advert break into the next one. Steve took the hint and wound up to a great round of applause.

Finally, there was an auction to raise money for Zoe's Hospice conducted by Dave. There were a variety of lots, including original Charlie Bronson drawings and a set of cutthroat razors The razors were bought by an Outlaw, obviously desperate for a close shave. Now there's something you don't see every day of the week!

By 11:30 the place was emptying, everyone congratulating Jan Lamb on a very good evening on their way out. Off we went again, after stuffing ourselves into the back of Mark's car.

As we drove up to the Aquarium Nightclub in Old Street I could clearly see the queue stretching off down the road. "Shit," I thought "this is going to take forever to get in." Silly old me. I had forgotten our active ingredient - Dave Courtney. Mark drove the car up to the front door and a huge doorman walked over. A quick word with Dave and there was "No problem."

"Only one," said Mark. "Where can I park the car around here?"

"Park it right by the door" said the doorman, "we'll look after it for you." Well, you can't say fairer than that, can you?

Dave and Lou in the VIP lounge at the Aquarium NightclubSo out we got. The doorman moved the railing to one side and we walked straight in, much to the bemusement of those who had been queuing for gawd knows how long on the cold street. Nothing to pay and we walked straight down to the bar in the reception area where Lou, the club's owner, made sure our drinking requirements were all taken care of. And that was the way things were for our entire stay. We stood in the foyer for a while, drinking and chatting before we moved into the club proper. It was dark and heaving and the loud beat of the music charged the blood through your veins. A nod by Lou to the barman and we were again taken care of. After a while of trying to hold our conversational own against the music we moved through to the VIP lounge. A lot quieter and chilled. I sat and had a long chat with Bernie and we arranged to meet sometime soon for the interview that will be featured on the website. I was just beginning to wonder about another drink when Dave disappeared behind the bar. When he reappeared he was followed by a couple of guys with champagne flutes and several chilled buckets of Bollinger. "Now, this" I thought "is definitely the way to live."

I ventured out into the club a couple of times. It was crowded with people having a good time to good music and I have to say that I didn't witness any trouble. Oh, and I've just got to tell you about the toilets, for anyone who hasn't been there. They have TV screens, so you can watch a music video while you're taking a piss. Smart or what?

At some point Mark decided he had to leave - something about work in the morning. I said to Dave "Hey, that's our ride leaving!"

Dave just looked at me and said "No problem, Mal. Don't worry about it." I've learned through experience that when Dave says "Don't worry about it" there's no point in worrying.

When we left the Aquarium Club it was about 3:30 in the morning. There was Dave, Me, Bernie, Stretch, Lou, Gemma and Mickey - but only one car. "How are we gonna get home now Dave?" I naively asked.

"We ain't going home just yet Mal," said Dave, "we're off to a very private and very select clubhouse."

"How the fuck are we getting there?" asked someone. "We've only got one car!"

Mickey was already getting into the driving seat. "OK, everyone pile in the back. If we can shut the doors then we're off."

Lou got in the right side, I sat in the middle and Bernie squished into the left. Fuck me, I was the meagre filling in a brawn sandwich. Now, that would have been bad enough, but then Stretch climbed in on top of Bernie and me and Gemma wriggled onto Lou's lap. The doors shut ... fuck knows how those doormen managed it .... and we all settled down for a very cosy and friendly drive across London. I couldn't see past all the bodies to have any idea where we were going. Suddenly, I was aware of someone's fingers stroking my hand. Quick as lighting I worked out that it couldn't be Dave or Mickey ... they were sitting in the front. And they were too slender and soft to belong to any of the other three lumps in the back. That only left Gemma and I realised that she must have thought my hand was Lou's (there was a nanosecond when I flattered myself .......). I couldn't move my arm; it was pinned under Stretch and the life was slowly ebbing out of it, but I tried to flex my fingers to see if I could move them out of the way, as I didn't want to offend the large geezer, Lou, to my right. It was then that Gemma yelled "Oi! Mal's trying to hold my hand!"

Well, you know how they say that some people can show superhuman strength at moments of extreme need? Like when skinny weaklings lift cars up to free a trapped accident victim. Well, my arm shot out of that melee faster than greased cheetah on whizz. I've no idea how nonchalant I sounded as I said "Nah, here's my hand, right here". Convincing I was not, but everyone seemed to think it was rather funny (thank God!) and my protest of innocence stopped right there.

Micky and Dave enjoy the poolEventually we stopped. The doors opened and out we all spilled into the dark and chilly morning air. We went through a big iron gate, which was locked behind us with a resounding clang, and entered a bikers clubhouse. No ordinary clubhouse this, though. Along one side was a long professional bar, stocked with every drink you could possible want. There were tables and chairs set out around the place and long comfy couches along one wall. At the back there stood a pair of highly polished monster bikes and behind a curtain there was a room with a pool table. After being offered a drink I was seduced into playing pool by the head-biker's girlfriend. And so, in the small hours of the morning, we all drank, played pool and had a good laugh.

I think it must have been about seven o'clock on Monday morning when we finally left the bikers' clubhouse and drove back to Camelot Castle. I was tired, but Bernie and Stretch were awake and wanted to talk. So we talked. Eventually Bernie crashed out on the couch in the living room, but Stretch carried on for another hour until he suddenly dozed off mid-sentence, while telling me about the virtues of a good revolver.

An hour later they were both awake again. Bernie said goodbye to Dave and I. Stretch said his fond farewells to all the guns and they sped off in the mid-morning sun.

Dave was anxious to continue the work on future plans for the website, and we spent much of the day talking, although it was on and off as various people turned up. One in particular stood out. An oldish, white haired man knocked the door and asked whether Dave was home. He walked in as though he and Dave were old bosom buddies and started to rabbit on about some "mutual friend", who Dave had obviously never heard of. If I had to sum up the guy I'd say he was Harry Enfield's "Only Meee" character to a T ... I was just waiting for him to tell Dave that he "didn't want to do it like that". Dave, of course, was as nice as pie to him, to the extent that he accompanied him outside to view the damage to the gentleman's 22 year old VW that had been caused by some thoughtless motorist backing into it earlier in the day ("Now, I don't think he wanted to do that!"). Only Me said that he had just finished Dave's first book and had heard that he'd written another one. "Actually, I've written another three" Dave said, but this seemed to whoosh straight over his brilliant white bonce.

After he left I asked "who was that then?"

"No idea" came the reply.

Later on Brendan arrived. I decided it was a good opportunity to interview him for a future project for the website. We sat for an hour and discussed what had happened during and after Dave's trial in 2000, Hell To Pay (and the serious repercussions for his business for putting money into the project) and a lot of other interesting stuff about Brendan's life and experiences with Dave.

Then Brendan's friend Mickey turned up with his girlfriend. Mickey was featured in the recent documentary about Brendan's "deals" shown on BBC2. The story goes that a contract was taken out on Brendan; Mickey was the man looking for Brendan and twenty grand was to be the payoff. Brendan went underground and the hit never took place. Somehow they went on to become firm friends (well, that's easy to understand, isn't it?). Mickey is a superstar, a very funny man and had us in stitches for his entire stay. At one point he grabbed hold of his own head and threw it with some force into the carpet after realising that he'd said something he shouldn't have. That must've hurt (well, it would have hurt me) but Mickey came up laughing. (I ought to point out that at no point did Mickey's head appear to leave his body through all this.)

Eventually Brendan, Mickey and girlfriend left and Jen served up a delicious and much appreciated chicken dinner. During the evening we had a serious discussion about ongoing problems with Dave's injuries. It was apparent over the days that Dave was suffering a great deal of pain, mainly with his leg and ankle. In public I'd seen him limp a bit, but cover up the pain with a smile. In private, however, he had real difficulties. I told him that he had to get the ankle seen to by a doctor or the hospital, and it had to be done sooner rather than later. Next day Jen was concerned enough to make an appointment for him to see the local doctor and I drove him down to the surgery late morning.

Dave spent about half an hour with the doctor. When he came out and I drove him home he broke the news: the doctor had said that the tendons in his foot had withered, which had resulted in him walking incorrectly which, in turn, had caused him to break further bones in his ankle and arch. He needed to see a specialist about it. He also needed to see a specialist about problems with his chest. Back at Dave's place I told him that the bravado had to stop and he had to start using his stick in public for the sake of his health.

By the afternoon I was completely spent and it was time to leave for home (and my nice comfy bed). Dave entrusted me a great big bag of the documents, letters, photos and what-not that we had been going through. Many of these will find their way onto this website in the course of time, so keep your eyes peeled.

By the time I left I'd spent one hundred hours in the company of Dave Courtney, a man I am very happy to be able to call FRIEND.

keep smiling,
Mal

 

 

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This page last updated 11th February 2003