Episode 16 (of 18)
Yuri leaped from the cab of what looked like a small coach and ramming his fedora on to his head walked briskly towards my open door and a half dressed me.
‘Quick Boryslav, we must move quickly.’
‘Oh yes … please come …’
Yuri swept passed me and straight into the ‘office’.
‘I will deal with the papers, you must pack immediately.’ He started gathering up random piles of papers, ‘You will be away for a year, maybe eighteen months so think carefully about what you need.’
‘Where am I going?’
‘Oh Europe, you know …. The grand tour.’
There was a crash as his foot caught in a power cable and the Amstrad was pulled off the desk.
‘Slow down Yuri’ a familiar voice came from the doorway behind me.
I turned, seeking reassurance, but she didn’t meet my gaze.
‘Here, start putting the papers in these black plastic bags.’
I reached out to take the roll.
‘No not you 9981, get your stuff together, there’s plenty of room in the Merc … and don’t forget to clear the Commer, it’s going to the crusher.’
‘Just do it!’ It was an order. An order from someone who was not best pleased but who was resigned to doing what they needed to do regardless.
An hour later I returned to the office, which was now housing a pile of black plastic bags and disconnected equipment. The Amstrad, with a smashed screen still lay where it had fallen. Yuri and Svet were sorting through computer discs. Neither of them turned at my approach.
‘Have you put your stuff in the Merc?’
I nodded, ‘But …’
‘Have you cleared the Commer?’
‘Yes, but …’
‘Then help get all this stuff into it.’
— x —
Eventually the frantic activity ceased and the three of us stood outside the now crammed Commer.
‘You’re in big trouble,’ Yuri explained. Svet stared at the ground.
‘We think they are on to you, they’re looking for the van’
‘But they’re looking for an ice cream van.’
‘ идиот! 9981,’ she didn’t lift her head, but the force of her condemnation made me take an involuntary step backwards, ‘the military police found you taking photos of their top secret ship, you got lucky, they made a big mistake and now they are after you ….. and they are going to be very, very angry when they catch up with you.’
‘But where am I supposed to go in Europe? I’ve never even driven on the wrong side of the road before!’
Yuri sighed, shook his head and sighed again, ‘Comrade Svetlana has been detailed to accompany you … to make sure you do not cause any ….. complications … for us. You are booked on the 10.30 ferry from Dover.’
With this Yuri climbed into the Commer and set off at breakneck speed back down the track.
Svet turned to me with her arms wide open and laughed. ‘Eighteen months Bo …. to travel round Europe … together!’
We embraced, but I was still staring at the disappearing Commer.
‘Yuri has got the film?’ she asked suddenly, pulling slightly away from me.
‘It’s with him in the Commer.’
— x —
The first I knew was a telephone call from Dad just as I arrived at the office one morning. This in itself was strange; he never contacted me at work. He seemed flustered, but also excited. He told me it was all a bit sudden but he was going abroad for a while to research material for a book on European history for which he had been given a substantial advance. He had to go because the ferry was about to board but he’d keep in touch through postcards and the occasional phone call ……… ‘Oh and if you look in your spare bedroom there’s a briefcase in the bottom of the wardrobe with some cash for you. I was paid for a commission in cash and hadn’t got round to paying it into the bank. Please use it whilst I’m away, I know it will come in handy’ ………..
There was indeed a briefcase …… containing £25,000 in used £20 notes……………..
Dad doesn’t seem to have drafted any narrative about his trip (or as I now know their trip) but during the two years he was away he seemed, judging from the postcards I received, to have travelled pretty well all round Europe, including a spell in Yugoslavia and Albania, not the easiest countries to get in or out of in those days. He did phone now and again to find out how my partner, myself and the children were, but true to form gave nothing away about his whereabouts or what he was up to. He found my worries that the £25,000 were the result of laundering by organised crime hilarious and told me it was a ‘tax efficient payment vehicle’ recommended by his accountant.
The ‘treasure box’ did, however, contain three other related gems:
1) A further letter from Grudgeons, solicitors, dated during this period which read:
Dear Mr Golinski
I must inform you that your attempt to engage with our client Sir Reginald Pringleby – Pringleby Fawcett in a discussion at Le Grille De L’Hotel De Paris in Monaco was entirely inappropriate and the ensuing confrontation caused him and his party much consternation.
I am particularly disappointed that you disregarded our earlier letter to you which made it clear that Sir Reginald did not wish to communicate with you.
Under these circumstances I felt I had no alternative to inform the Foreign Office of this matter.
2) Draft Lyrics written on Gritti Palace Hotel notepaper for a song entitled ‘Heading South for the Sun.’ These include the sadly unforgettable lines:
Closing in on the Coast
Breakfasting on marmalous toast
3) A seven inch single ‘Heading South for the Sun’ recorded by Rodger Reliant and The Rogues a year after Dad returned to England. I made some enquiries which led me to a Mr Robin d’Gea, surviving member and vocalist in The Rogues – a local pub band. Dad occasionally stood in on the bass for them (news to me that he was a musician!).
The single was recorded at a flash London studio – financed by Dad (paid for in £20 notes ….). Mr d’Gea told me that it was all a bit crazy and there had been some controversy during the recording as Dad had not only insisted on playing bass himself but also on his co-writer (he couldn’t recall her name) playing sax. This, perhaps understandably, had caused some difficulties with the band, but, as Mr. d’Gea put it ‘she who plays the pipe ……… and she was very good’.
I asked about the strange record sleeve and he said it was a riddle.
‘You’re not joking,’ I said, ‘it’s all very mysterious, can’t make head nor tail of it.’
‘No,’ he laughed, ‘it’s a Riddle …… top notch industry artist ….. worked with all the top bands …. Must have cost a lot of £20 notes!’
Mr. d’Gea had never heard the final master of the song and had often wondered what had happened to it. There had been plans for releases in Russia and here – ‘but that was the music business for you.’
I managed to get Mr Grimly of the renowned Gate Head Studios to digitally re- master the song – although strangely he wouldn’t accept payment in £20 notes ……