Archive for October, 2008

Brand, Ross and the DR CONGO

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

What the fuck is the matter with Britain and its media?

I ask because the BIG STORY dominating the headlines is of course the row over the prank phone calls by messers Brand and Ross to Mr Sachs.  All very bad taste and probably shouldn’t have been broadcast.  20,000 + people have now complained, but in fact less than 700 complained after the broadcast and the rest seemed have jumped on the Band Wagon havinf read about it.  Even the Prime Minister made a statement and is taking it very seriously.

Good show Gordon!

However the story that should be dominating the news is the situation in Congo.  We were there earlier this year, which will answer DL’s question about my sudden absence.  It was a total humanitarian nightmare then and from the reports I have had in the last 36 hours it is sliding into Hell on Earthl.

Yet not a word from the PM or anyone else about this.  I don’t see 20,000 people being concerned about the pending mass goncide that is happening.

The UN Peace keepers are working to mandate that is just bollocks and are effectively powerless to do anything, which is why “Contractors” are brought in to try to ensure that the aid will get to some of those who need it and not stolen by the warlords.

No doubt the same 20,000 + people who are pissing their pants over a bad taste prank would also be more upset over the photos of dead gorillas that are being poached than those of the boy soldiers killed in action or the massacred babies we found.  I can understand Gorilla Bananas being upset, mind you, but they could be family members or friends.

The truth is the Western Governments  stood back and did fuck all during the Rwandan debacle and I suspect they will do it again, unless of course the yanks want to get their little mits on the diamonds and gold which is in short supply at the moment and Coltan which is used for mobile phones.

A couple of photos to make the point clear.congo_kids_congolese_children_child.jpg


Barker 2 – Who, what, where, when?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

The weather was good.  No, the weather was bloody marvellous for once and the traffic light.  Say what you like about rising fuel prices but it does stop people driving if they don’t have to.  Anyway, I made very good time, and was in Farnham in 55 minutes.  Cyclops had looked the address up on the mapping system and had sent me some directions which was just as well as the gaff was in a place called The Sands which was to all intents and purposes the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees.

I have to be honest and say I was not expecting such a big house in such a plush location and I have to confess to doubting Cyclops research for once.  Let me do my estate agent pitch.  Built a little over one hundred years ago it had been a large surrey farmhouse with pitched tilled roofs that had been extended.  It was a big house. No actually it was a magnificent house.  At a guess  from the outside I would have said maybe 5 or 6 bedrooms and sat at the end of a long sweeping driveway set in about over 2 acres of garden screened from any other of the other big houses by trees.  It was a very very des res. I stopped just inside the entrance of the drive and quickly rang Cyclops.  I left a quick message which was “check this address for me any way you can”.

I drove up the drive and there was a sign saying parking pointing to the right.  There were a few expensive cars already parked and what look like catering vans much further away from the house.  I parked next to what looked like a slightly stretched Black Audi A6.  There were a few people wandering about and they were all smartly dressed. trained observer in me told me that something was going on.

I am often asked what clothes do I wear on jobs like this.  I would love to say that my budget and sense of style would run to Mr Bonds designer wardrobe, the truth is that what really works is being man at M&S. Let me digress from the story just to give you a little insight into our trade craft.  One of the first rules is to “Dress up to dress down”.  In other words if you go out  looking smart ie wearing a jacket, reasonable trousers and a tie you could go to the Dorchester or Ritz maybe a wedding and not stand out unreasonably.  If you ended up in a pub is North London you take the tie off undo a couple of buttons on your shirt and nobody would really give you a second look.  Just some geezer in a boozer.  If you went out in jeans and tee shirt you would probably be OK in the pub, but in the smarter surroundings you might struggle.  Just imaging turning up at a wedding wearing a tee shirt with your best Sex Pistols Slogan slapped on the front.  They may not  notice you, but I wouldn’t count on it.  To be honest you would stick out like a set of bulldogs bollocks as my old RSM to put it so quaintly.  It is also important not to draw attention to yourself, be grey or beige but not red, orange or lime green.   You want to merge in not stand out.  This is not a fashion show and Whilst there are times and places to be flamboyant, this is generally not the time to flaunt your Jean Paul Gautier Basque and suspender set, although I have to tell you I do look rather fetching even if I do say so myself.   This turned out to be an occasion when the golden rule proved to be so so right.

A chunky young man with short hair and quite a smart appearance despite the cheap looking blazer and grey trousers holding a two way radio approached me in a brisk business like way.  Unfortunately his aftershave reached me before he did which let him down a bit.   A squaddie moonlighting for a security company I’ll wager.

“Bride or groom sir?”

“I am here to see a Mr Barker”

“Yes sir, but bride or groom?” he said a little taken aback.

“I am here on business” I said emphasising the word business and looked him in the eyes.  He flushed slightly but held his ground and eye contact.  Discreetly his eyes did a rapid discreet tour of me.

“I am Sorry sir I didn’t realise I thought you were a guest” he said in a pleasant way.

“No problem young man, I am expected, but I am not quite sure he wants my presence to be public knowledge”

The young man grinned slightly.

“Something funny young man” I asked quizzically

“Well, I don’t know who you are sir, but I suspect your presence is not quite the sort of presents everyone else will be turning up with” his grinned widened and he almost started to laugh and I felt myself smiling back

“Very good” I said smiling “most witty”.

“sorry I couldn’t help it”

“No crime against a sense of Humour” I said

“That’s not quite the way the CO sees it” said the lad.

“I can imagine.  Anyway how about you direct me to Mr Barker”

“Right OK, just bear with me one moment please”  He talked into his radio. “I am afraid I don’t quite know where he is, other than probably in the house.  Guests are being sent to the reception area in the marquee at the back of the house.  The controller says He had an appointment for earlier this morning.  If you go to the main entrance of the house somebody will find him for you.”

I thanked him.

I was pleased that I had adhered to the golden rule of dressing up.  My “Never Mind The Bollcoks” tee shirt was just not it for this sort of gathering.  As it was, nobody gave me a second look as I ambled toward the large tiled porch over the front door.

However my dress code might have been alright, but something was not right and I felt ill at ease.  In the words of Bollo from the Mighty Boosh ” I had a bad feelin about dis”

The front doors were open and I went in to a wide long carpeted entrance, which was totally devoid of any of the original features or character the house may have had.  Some vandal of an interior designer had gutted and the original house and then painted it a sort of Barbara Cartland Pink or shades thereof.  I dare say the decor and fittings were expensive but it was totally naff.  It was bling naff and clearly this property had not been renovated as a family home but for a foreign or corporate client.  I don’t know why this should have got my goat so much, after all I didn’t have to live here.

This cheering thought had just hit me when a man of about 40ish came towards me.  He was about 5 foot 10 with fairish hair and a soft pudgey face and expensively dressed.  He looked as if he had been thin when younger but he looked as if he was going to seed and seemed slightly stressed for some reason.

“Can I help you?” he asked with just the very hint of a Brummie accent

“I am here to see Mr Barker”

“Ah yes Sir, thank you so much for coming so quickly I really am sorry for the short notice” He gushed extending his right hand which I shook.  It was soft, clammy and spongy with all the appeal of a 3 day old dead trout.

Who the hell was this bloke, because it certainly was NOT the Dave Barker I remembered?

I was about to ask the question when a young woman of about 30 something joined us.  She was a shade under 6foot tall, slim, tanned, blonde big breasts long legs and dressed in something stunningly elegant and bloody expensive even to my untrained eye.  She was the epitome of the magazines ideal of gorgeous.  Personally, I prefer a bit more meat, but I wouldn’t have climbed over her to get to Boris the Blade!

She looked at me with a hard, cold, businesslike stare.  I maintained eye contact and she smiled ever so slightly.  Hey up Norman,  was that a mischievous little twinkle I saw in those eyes? She turned back to look at “Barker”.

“Darling” He said “This is my former troop commander Colonel Norman.  Sir I would like to introduce you to JJ,  my fiancé, who at 3pm will become my wife”.  She looked me straight in the eye again and held out her thin hand which I shook.  She had a surprisingly strong grip for brown stick insect.

Barker? Colonel? Troop commander? Barker? WTF?

“You’re a very lucky man” I said  to “Barker” “I wish you all the very best together and I hope you will be very happy” and smiled at her.

“You have a lovely smile Colonel” She cooed unctuously “You should wear it more often”

“Thank you, I should say I really prefer to be addressed as just mister if you don’t mind” I said diplomatically trying to recover some kind of foothold on reality.

“I understand” she purred maintaining both a steady grip on  my hand and unflinching hold of the eye.  I am glad she did because I bloody didn’t.

“Sorry, my fault” Interjected “Barker” “Careless really, but the whole day has got me a bit twitchy”

“Yes I see” I said even though I didn’t.

“David my love” cooed JJ “I don’t suppose this is a social call, and I know it is probably all very important, the security of the nation and all that, but there are lots of people to see to and time is running short.”  she eyed me again “Please don’t keep him any longer than necessary Col….sorry mister Norman”

“Oh don’t worry I won’t” said with 100% commitment.  She smiled again turned and with a sly little look over her shoulder waggled her bottom into a room on her right.

“Look” He said “Time is of the essence as I am sure you will appreciate I would love to talk about some of the told times but I have a problem” He was steam rolling rather than talking and so far as you will have gathered I still had no idea who the hell this bloke was or what I was doing there.

“I…”He continued

I held my hand up and said “Stop”.  He did.  “You said you were blackmailed and that it had come to a head” He looked suddenly shaken

“Ssssh man for god sake don’t tell the whole bloody world”

“Well lets go somewhere private and you can tell me what’s going on”.

He turned and strode off and I followed down the hall towards the back of the house.  He turned left into a short passage and there was a door at the end.  It opened into an office he went in and I followed.  It was furnished with modern flat packed office furniture and there was something else that just didn’t sit right with me. It was all a bit cheap or temporsry.   He sat behind the desk in a “leather” executive chair and gestured for me to sit on a small Ikea looking leather settee.

“Lets start at the beginning” I said

Barker put his hands finger tips together and rested his elbow on the desk and looked down.  No actually he looked down and left rather than at me.  Whilst not 100% reliable it is a good indication that somebody is being less than truthful.

“I am being blackmailed by a man called David Minton.” He said very quietly, almost nervously and looked up, but not at me, in fact his eyes were all over the place.

“Thats not what I mean by the beginning” I said

“What do you mean why?” He said slightly shocked looking down again.

“I don’t know you.  You are not the David Barker who I used to work with, so why did you say you were” I asked very pleasantly

“Ah yes I am sorry we are old friends and he has talked about and gave me your details and said to ring you to get this matter sorted” I responded heistatly

“Where is Barker?”

“In another part of the building he is keeping somebody company, but we will go to him in minute”

“So tell me about David Minton,what does he have on you that enables him to think he can blackmail you” I clarified.

“I cant tell you that” he blurted

“Look if you don’t then how can I help you”

“You don’t need to know”

“Ok have it your way” I said “But look at thgis my way.  I am brought down here by a deception and then you wont tell me anything.  I cannot see how I can help, you are wasting my time and your money”


“Yes your money, you dont think I do this as a hobby do you?”

“Oh no of course not” He looked at me directly for the first time and was about to say something but then glanced at his watch and smiled and said “How rude, would fifteen hundred pounds be sufficient to cover today and to engage your services” He was used to dealing with money and was comfortable with paying people for short term professional services.

He went to a drawer in the  desk unlocked it and took out a wad of notes and counted out 1500 in fifties.  Just as he was doing this my phone vibrated.  “Barker” was preoccupied with the money so  I slipped the phone from my jacket pocket and stole quick look.  There was a text from Cyclops which simply read “rented 5250pcm uf”.

“There” said “Barker” “Thats that out of the way” passing me the money, which I started to count myself.

“Don’t you trust me?” he said with just a bit too much aggression to hide his apparent hurt and indignation.

“Mistakes happen and I don’t want to be short changed any more than you want to over pay me.  I don’t like misunderstanding over money” I replied diplomatically. “It can spoil the best of friendships” and smiled.

He snorted slightly and I could see that a vein in the right temple was throbbing and he had a tick in his left eyelid.  This bloke was only just in control himself.

Having checked the money I smiled again at Barker and something like that’s fine and put it in my inside pocket.  “Come on then lets have a look at Mr Minton shall we” and gave him yet another of my best smiles.  He sort of smiled back but it looked like a cross between a bad tempered scowl and a painful grimace and he stomped out of the room without saying anything. If I kept smiling like this I was in danger of getting cramp in my face.

“Right then why dont you tell me what is going on” I tried again.

“Alright I’ll tell you” he said looking at me and then he looked down again ” Minton, has made a number of demands and a figure of fifteen thousand pounds had been agreed.  he then turned up here today and it all came to ahead.  That’s all you need to know really” he said defiantly looking me dead in the eye.

“Is that it?”

“Yes” He replied defiantly

“Not exactly a story brimming with detail is it what do you expect me to do about it?”

“Get it sorted so he leaves me alone” He snapped back

“Look, lets get a few things straight.” I said “Do you really think I am going to get involved in something with such a flimsy brief.  If you do then think on.  Why have you not gone to the police what the hell have you done to be ready to pay 15K and why has he turned up today of all days?”

He stood up suddenly and put his hands up in surrender

“OK OK.  He knows things about me and has threatened to expose me to the other side.  Plus he has photos which he says he will show if he is not paid off”

“Well that’s pretty obvious, but what sort of things does he say he knows”

“About some of the operations I was involved in.  Possibly we were involved in.  Says he could go to the papers or even the other side and that we would be exposed and our safety compromised and there are aspects to my covert life that are very damaging and embarrassing and he said he would tell JJ and if he did that the whole wedding would be off”

“Go on” I said more than just a little intrigued.

“No no I cant say anything else”.   He still hadn’t said very much but it was better than nothing.

“Alright if you insist, so why did it come to a head”

“Well he turned up here to day and started demanding the money.  I had the cash ready but then he said he wanted extra to take care of other people and about other things.  I said no way and then there was a fight and I neutralised him”

“How do you mean?” I said

“Brought him down so he was no longer a threat” he growled

“Neutralised him, brought him down?” I repeated “What, you killed him?  What the hell are you talking about man?”

“No, well yes, he’s not dead as such”

“Look, he’s either dead or he’s not dead which is it?”

“Not dead”

“Where is he then?” I asked more than a touch relieved.  If there is something I know about the boys in blue is that they take a dim view of you killing people.  They put up tents, tape and wander round in white boiler suites in a very business like manner and ask all sorts of pertinent and often tricky questions.  Their whole road show is guaranteed to ruin a wedding plus they also tend to be very suspicious of people like me when bodies turn up and you are in the vicinity.

“In the cellar.  He is tied up in the cellar”

“Show me”  I said and stood up

I followed “Barker” from the office to a utility room at the other side of the house and then through a door there was a short flight of stone steps down into an dark, cold, tiled, store room.

He went down the steps and stood to one side and I followed.  The light from the open door way illuminated the room, but “Barker” didn’t turn the light on.  Outside I could hear caterers and the sound of organisation, a jazz band started tuning up and running through a few warm up numbers.

It sounded busy.

In here it was cold and had a muffled silence.

From what I could see the room was quite big maybe 4m wide and 6m deep with shelves of stuff around the wall. There, about two metres inside the room lying on the floor in the dark and trussed up like a Christmas turkey was an older but unmistakeable Dave Barker.  However he was not alone, he had a room mate, a chunky woman who I reckon was about 45 years of age – give or take.  It seems the term now is BBW or big beautiful woman.  Well I wasn’t sure how big or tall she was, because she was lying down on the floor, nor could I say how beautiful she was because most of her face was covered with duct tape but there was a quite a bit of her.  They were both very still and appeared to be unconscious.

“I thought you said Minton was here” I asked angrily

“He is” Replied Barker.

“No, thats Dave Barker I know, ex para, ex policeman and…..”then I saw the real Barkers eyes open and look to his left into the room.  It was a look, just a look, but had he shouted he couldn’t have warned me better.

Instincts are funny things and mine had already told me to be ready, so I don’t know if I heard him first or saw something catch the light a bit further into the room, but a figure came at me head on.  His right arm was out slightly in front of him and something in his hand caught the light. The eye said to brain “knife” and at the same time I felt the weight of fake “Barker” On my back and an arm around my throat pulling me backwards off balance and causing my legs to buckle slightly.  The figure in front of me lunged purposefully at me with and the weapon – whatever it was, was aimed at my stomach.

My bad feeling about dis just got worse.

Barker 1 – Time Off?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

HTML clipboardI had decided to have a week or so off, starting with a weekend doing nothing apart from chilling out with L and going for a drink at lunchtime with a couple of pals and then a meal out.  Sunday I was going to have a lie in and then have a leisurely breakfast of croissant, pain aux raisin and coffee.  Read the Sunday papers, swearing at the world and the useless twats that run it,  followed by a late relaxed lunch of roast beef, roast spuds Yorkshires thick onion gravy and a bottle of red before putting y feet up in front of the telly to watch “Rome” Which my mate Billy had bought me for my birthday and had told me was the dogs bollocks.

Bt 10.30am on Saturday my relaxed weekend was not looking so good.

Poor old L had woken up feeling sick and had in fact been rather tom and dick and had gone back to bed.  I was slurping a cup of Earl Grey and crunching a piece of toast when my work mobile rang.  I was tempted to ignore it, but it was Cyclops and he would only ring me if it was something really pressing.

“Sorry to bother you Norm” said Cyclops all apologetically “but a bloke called Dave Barker is trying to get hold of you – says he has been looking for you high and low.”

“Dave Barker? are you sure?” I said spitting toast crumbs all over the table.  I have to confess to being somewhat taken aback

“Yeah” said Cyclops ” I’m certain, he’s left me a number” and he gave me a mobile number.  “Norm is it OK, you sound a little off”

“I tell you what Cyclops, I’m a bit shocked really.  Yes, I know this  bloke because he served with me quite a while ago in Northern Ireland, but I don’t know him, know him if you get my drift.  He was alright, as I remember, a  bit headstrong.”

“A para headstrong.  Fuck me, that’s a bit of a shocker” interrupted Cyclops.  I laughed

“Yeah, well, anyway he suddenly upped and left.  No rhyme or reason, just said he had enough and was on his way.  A week or so later SIB were poking about and asking questions about him but wouldn’t say about what exactly.  Anyway about 18 months later, he apparently disappeared without a trace, and as far as I know hasn’t been heard of since.”

“When you say disappeared, what do you mean?” asked Cyclops

“Well, just that.  Apparently he vanished into thin air – not a trace anywhere.  Not long after he left us he went into the modplod (MOD Police) and then joined the MET.  I suppose he must have been out for 18 months, maybe two years when SIB came around again to see if anyone in the the unit had heard from him and what did we know about him, you know, habits, politics an other what they called “background” stuff.  As I said, I was overseas at the time when all this was going on.   Only that he had done a few ops with me and did what he was told.  Not a great bloke, but not the worst by any means either.”

Cyclops muttered a knowing noise.

“Actually at the time, there was some talk after the second SIB visit as to whether or not we thought he might have been batting for the other side”

“What, gay?” asked Cyclops

“No you prawn, you know the sort of cold war spy under the bed thing.  Mind you, he might have been gay, just can’t tell and to be honest, it’s not the sort of environment where you were likely to come out and get a sympathetic ear.  I didn’t really get involved, as I was deployed elsewhere at the time.  Haven’t heard hide nor hair of him since he left really and to be honest I had forgotten all about him and really there is no reason why I should hear from him.  I mean, its not as if we were great mates or anything.”

“No I suppose not” agreed Cyclops “So why do you think he has contacted you then?”

“No idea, maybe he wants to come in from the cold or maybe he remembers my firm taut buttocks”

We both laughed.  “Here Cyclops, I don’t suppose he said where he was, did he?”

“Nah sorry, he just said he had got the office number from somebody but he didn’t say who.”   That in itself is a bit odd but not so odd as to cause any real alarm bells to ring.

“I’ll give him a bell and see what he wants and if necessary I’ll get back to you.”   We said our goodbyes and rang off.

I rang the number and it was answered immediately by a man.

“Yes” he snapped.

“Mr Barker please”

“Who’s calling?”


“Oh yes, right.   Its me, Barker.”  he said very formally.   I have to say he didn’t sound like the Dave Barker I knew of old, but it had been a while and people change.  I was frantically trying to think how long it had been since he had left, but it all gets a bit blurred after a while.  Must be old age catching up with me, well, that and too many beers and blows to the head over the years.

“What can I do for you?” I said getting straight to business.  There was a pause and then he replied.

“Oh yes, well, erm its like this, I have erm a small problem and I am told you might be able to help me”

“OK before I say yes, perhaps you could give me some bare bones.”   I said very coldly.

“Ah yes, right, well erm, I erm, look –  it’s a bit difficult to talk at the moment, do you think you could come down here?”

“Where is here?”



“Yes, yes that’s right”  and he gave me the address.  “How long will you be?”

“I am not sure.  I will have to sort a few things out….”

“You have got to get here quickly, it really is very urgent.  Please.”   There was a note of urgency in his voice.  I heard somebody knock on the door.   “Hold on”.  He called out.   “I’m on the phone.  I’ll be a few minutes…..I’M ON THE PHONE!”  he shouted.   “Sorry, how long before you can get here?”

I thought about it.  Hammersmith to Farnham is about an hour, give or take, plus a bit to get myself going, sort out a car and other bits and bobs.

“Two hours.”   I said.

“OK, OK, erm no sooner?”

“No.  I am not Captain Kirk you know.  I can’t just beam up from here and beam down the next second on your doorstep.  Anyway, you haven’t told me what this is about”

“Oh, yes, erm alright, OK yes, but you’ll definitely be here before three o’clock…I am being blackmailed and its all come to a bit of a head.  I have a situation and erm I can’t really talk, I’m in the middle of something and I have a lot of people here…”   There was another bang on the door and somebody calling.  Barker shouted back irritably  “Yes, yes I know I know.  I’m just coming for God’s sake I’m try to finish a bloody phone call…”   The other person, which I suspect was a woman, clearly took umbrage at his retort and although I couldn’t hear what she said, I suspect it was something witty in that female way.

“I’ve got to go, but will explain everything when you get here.”   And he hung up.

Blackmail.  Come to a bit of a head.  I looked at the phone, how very odd.  How very odd indeed.  Why should some geezer I didn’t know very well and haven’t seen for God knows how long suddenly ring me up and ask for help with him being blackmailed?  Then I thought, well maybe its not that odd, because people contact us all the time to help with all sorts of problems and the majority of them I don’t know from a bar of soap.

I rang Cyclops and asked him to sort a car for me and told him where I was going and that if I needed anything I would ring him.

I showered quickly and tried to recall what, if anything I remembered about Mr Barker, other than that I had told Cyclops.  In short, the answer was not a lot.  I remembered he was a bit punchy, but as Cyclops pointed out that was not unique.  I seemed to think he had had a couple of “incidents” in Aldershot, although no charges were ever brought and that was about it.  The only thing I did know was that for some reason I hadn’t like him very much and that now I think about it, he was always a bit smarmy with me.   Mind you there are  lots of very reasonable people I don’t like and as Alison always used to point out, I did have a happy knack of upsetting people.  Wankers.

I checked on L, she was feeling a bit better but was going to stay in bed.  Would I be offended if we didn’t go out tonight, she was still feeling off?  Not at all.  I explained that something had cropped up and that I would be back around 7pm at the latest.

Twenty minutes after my phone call with Barker, I had cancelled the table and was walking down Fulham Palace Road to get my car.  It was a lovely sunny day and apart from poor old “L” being as sick as a parrot and the first day of my mini break being kicked in to touch by some joker I barely knew, all was well in the world.

Dead Or Even Worse.

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Regular readers will recall, that sometime ago, my bank and subsequently my internet and telephone provider decided I was dead.  Now then, whilst I acknowledge that there are a lot of people who would be happy to see me shoving up daisies, I am in fact very much alive and kicking all be it a little creakily.

I have come back from the dead about three time in the last 12 months and each time after after a bit of fucking about, loads of telephone calls – mostly to Indian call centres and the ensuing usual stupid questions the problem eventualy gets sorted out.

Now to be fair I can almost see why this happens.  I have dropped off the grid for extended periods and then popped up sometime later somewhere totally unexpected, before returning home like a wayward dog.

It has all been a little irksome if not mildly amusing.  The being dead not the coming home that is.

However the other day I received in the post a form W9.

What is a W9 I hear you ask?  Sorry that should really be W-9,  lets get it right.

The W-9 is actually a US tax form and my question is why have they sent one to me, a Brit who spent most of the last year – through no fault of my own – dead?

Its bad enough been considered dead, but to be considered American, well that’s going to far.

I have done some research and there could be answer.

In the days gone by pikeys were pikeys, not ” misunderstood travelling folks who are really honest guvnor with hearts of gold” and chaps like me were referred to as mercenaries or dogs of war.  Not any more, oh no.  Now in the era of “management speak” and “lets give it a fancy titleism” we are often referred to as “Independent contractors” or “Security Contractors” and “Freelancers” and so on.

TheW-9 does come with an explanatory letter and there is information on t’good old t’internet.  Here is a taster

“A W-9 is used to gather information about the independent contractor.”

That might explain why I have beens ent one, but only might as I have not worked in the US or for any US companies.  It goes on to explain

“The formForm W-9 may be developed if it is substantially similar to the actual Form W-9. Check the IRS’s instructions for the Form W-9 for more details on this.”

WTF does that mean?  This is the instruction for the Form W-9.  It gets better.

“The client or company will use the information collected on the W-9, or substitute W-9, to produce a Form 1099 which details the earnings that the independent contractor received from that client that tax year. The Form 1099 is sent to both the independent contractor and the IRS; some states may also require a separate mailing of the 1099 as well.”

Well thats clear enough except I dont have a 1099 and dont feel too inclined to ask for one.   There is then some guff about the form W-4 and the 1040 E-S before it goes on to say

“The W-9 is only required of independent contractors who are US citizens, US resident aliens, and some other less common categories (e.g., a domestic estate). Non-US independent contractors may be required to fill out a Form W-8 (like the Form W-8BEN) instead of a W-9. This is not always the case. Investors, or freelancers, living in other countries may simply file the W-9, which will provide the employers or financial institution with a way to keep record of their information.

The W-9 also requires a signature, though unlike the W-4, the signature does not have to be witnessed by an employer or client. In most cases, freelancers merely send in a W-9, which can be a copy of the original.”

Right oh, squire, right oh, know what you mean, know what you mean, nudge is as good as a wink to a blind horse.

I am told that in reality this is a last ditch attempt by the dying Bush administration  to track down naughty US scallywags who may have bank accounts outside the US and who would be funding terror or more likely avoiding paying tax to the IRS.  I also suspect it is a way those crafty spooks at Langley will get unwitting “Private Contractors” to volunteer their details to the CIA database.

However my favourite bit on these instructions is the bit that says “If you are a U.S. person, please complete the enclosed W9 Form and return to us at the address below. ……blah blah blah…….. If you are not a U.S. person, please complete the enclosed Customer Information Form and include an explanation as to why you are not a U.S. person.”

Fuck off I am Uncle Norman seemed a bit too subtle so I would like to know if anyone has any better suggestions.

Traffic 8 – Sams Story

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

HTML clipboardThe following is a resume of what Sam told me sometime after she was returned to her family.  I have tried as best I can to keep it in her words.

Something’s that she told us are part of ongoing Police investigations and or legal proceedings and so it is not appropriate for me to repeat or make comment about them.  I would hate some little shit of a barrister to use a legal technicality to get one of these fuckers off.

I have changed certain names and places for obvious reasons, the rest I am afraid to say is as I have told it.  I wish it were and Isolated case – it isn’t.

“I was okay at school but not very popular.  Most of the others thought I was a bit of a geek ‘cos my mum  and dad were posh and cos I did well in tests and went riding and stuff.  I wasn’t really an anorak, but they thought it.  Some of them used to give me a hard time but nothing too bad now I think about it, just verbals.

Then one afternoon this lad Gavin who was outside the gates at school waiting for his sister like.  I had seen him around like and he was a bit older than me maybe 16 or 17 and quite posh but he seemed to know a lot of people like.  Anyways this girl Sharon was giving me some verbal and he told her to leave it out.  He was quite fit and I was flattered that he should say summet to her for me.  Sharon shut up well quick and left me alone and he started talking to me.  He was a really nice lad and funny, a bit like Lee Evans just not old like ‘im.

Anyways he asks me to go out with him, well wot actually ‘appened was I saw ‘im a few times after school like and he says about going to McDonalds or summet and so we did and then he said would I go out with him and be his girlfriend like and stuff.  He introduced me to his older mate called Danny.  Then Danny comes up to me and says would I go out with ‘im instead.  I said I couldn’t cos I was already goin out with this other lad, but Danny said it was cool and that he had spoken to him and he had said it was OK and that if I wanted they would share me.  I think now it was daft, but then It was well cool and they were well jealous at school, specially Sharon cos she thought Danny was well horny , specially when he turned up in this random car which was totally awesome. 

After a bit he had some new mobile phones he said his cousin got cos he worked for someone like the carphone ware house or summet like that.  Anyways he gave me one, it was well smart like and much better than the old Nokia mum and dad had given me for Christmas a couple of years ago.  He also had loads of CDs and DVDs and let me have them so I could copy them, but I didn’t have an ipod so he gave me one, it was well smart and he was great.

One saturday he took me to his cousins flat there was a few people there and he gave me some drink – Smirnoff ice or Bacardi Breezers, can’t remember too well now, but I thought this was wicked.  I got a bit drunk and he was kissing me and touching me and then got his hands between my legs and I was feeling well horny and sort of strange like and it went from one thing to another….

I had to be home but he said he had had too much to drink and that I could get a cab or summet, but I wanted to stay with him cos I knew he loved me so we stayed.  We had sex almost all night and in the morning I was really sore and had love bites an I din’t want my mum to see….well you know”

I was feeling a bit sick but he gave me some little pills and then a well smart watch and his Burberry cap.  Funny init I didn’t feel sick no more when he gave me that.  We went to his cousins flat a few times and the same things kept happening and then one night we were getting pissed with his cousin and Gavin was there an some of Dannys mates and a few other girls.  He was feeling my tits and you know touching me down there whilst we was on the settee in front of the others.  I was a bit embarrassed like, but cos the other girls were about the same age aand were doin the same I sort of thought “Why not?” it was OK. 

I got more pissed and then one of the other lads started shagging his girl on the floor.  I had never seen anyone else doin it and maybe cos I was pissed or summet but I felt well horny so I let Danny start goin further in front of everyone like.  Then one of the other girls started blowin her bloke, and well then  Danny got my pants off and said he wanted to do it there on the floor like the others.  I wasn’t keen, but he said he loved me and that he wanted to show them how good I was and how beautiful I was and all that stuff.  I was feelin hornier though and bit sort of out of it and anyways he got my stuff off and did it.  He made me go on top and then Gavin came over and started feelin my tits and kissing me and I was all confused……….”

“A few days later we went to another house (the one we found her in) and there was a party and I had a lot to drink and they gave me some cannabis and some pills.  I was well high and  horny would have shagged a horse.   Danny and I were doing it when Gavin and another lad, Phil the black boy at the house, came in and they started with me and I ended up having sex with all of them.  I was confused like cos I loved Danny and Gavin was sort of my boyfriend, but like I hadn’t really seen much of him for ages and I thought Danny loved me but I thought cos they were well good mates it seemed alright and I thought whatever, it was cool…..I think.

I was getting shit from my mum and Dad and Danny told me that Dad had threatened him, which didn’t seem like my Dad but I knew Danny wouldn’t lie.  Anyways I couldn’t take anymore shit at home and so Danny moved me into his flat for a lot of the time and said I was his girl now.  I felt owned and wanted even if he did let his mates touch me and have sex with me I thought it was alright.  There was this Gavin who is quite posh fella and Phil the black bloke and two other girls bit older than me I fink but one of them left after a day or so and the other went to Birmingham or someplace up North and then another girl came but she only stayed a few days.  She had a big fight with Gavin and Phil and some stuff got broken and she ran off in the middle of the night.  I didn’t see her go cos I was with Danny and pissed but they told me about it the next day.

I was drinkin and doin loads of cannabis and was well chilled, but not heavy stuff  no blow or crack or whatever.  Id di go home but I was getting grief and verbals from my mum and dad cos they didn’t like Danny.  Even though Danny had told them he was looking after me right an all.

 Then one day Danny said he had a big problem.  He owed money to some bloke called Brian who was well ‘ard and the deal he was working on ‘ad not come through yet.  This fella Brian was threatening ‘im and Danny was well shaken up.  I says wot can we do and after some chat Danny says maybe you can ask him or persuade him it will be ok.  I didn’t quite get his drift, but I ended up having sex with this Brian fell  and two of his mates cos they said they wouldn’t hurt Danny.  That was really where it all started going real bad.   Danny was doin loads of good deals and I wanted to help im so I would “look after” some of his mates and friends.  Course wot I didn’t realise was that I was being fucked by everyone now.

Then one day we we was goin out and we went to the house and the old bloke was there with two other girlss same age as me.  He says he had some friends coming round and he needed us to do the biz with em and look after them right.  I looked at Danny and he said “Its OK babe” do as the man said.  There was a party and there were lots of men.  No condoms just a big gang bang.  That was the first time I went home for ages I think.  I was in a right state and my dad went metals like and giving me verbals about what ad happened and I didn’t need his aggravation.  Then he shut up an put me to bed like I was a little kid.

“Next day I gets a call from Danny, he’s well sorry but has a problem and needs to speak to me.  So I goes and see im like and he says “Why you run off like you give me a biog problem with Brian – thats the older blokes name- he was going to cut me and you if he finds you and you talk to anyone.”  I says I ave’nt talked to no-one likes and wouldn’t do that.  Danny took me back to the flat and is really nice to me and we have sex like we used to and he gives me some new clothes and loads of pressies and stuff. 

“Then the police turned up and started asking about a girl called Tina.  We says we don’t know no Tina and then this older copper starts givin Danny a well ard time.  He says “How come the Police in Manchester have given us this address and your name” Danny says “How the fuck should he know” The copper says “Wot you think they pulled an address out of Harry Potter fucking hat or some kind of lucky bag and bingo there just ahppens to be a geezer called Danny living there.  Fucking coincidence” .  “Yeah says Danny fancy that what a coincidence”.  The the copper turns to me and says  who am I and how old I am and all this.  I tell him 13 almost 14, but dont tell him my name.  He takes me into a hall on my own and talks to me and is quite nice.  Bit like my dad but hard.  He asks if I am OK where did I live and all this, but I blank him and tell im I am there with Danny of my own free will and I can go when ever I want.  He said you can come with us now and there wont be any grief, no trouble, I’m sure your mum and dad will be worried about you.  I says they dont give a shit and some stuff and In the end the copper says something like “its your life girly don’t fuck it up or more to the point dont let anyone fuck you up”. 

He knew what was happening, but Danny had told me there was fuck all they could do about it if i said that I was there cos I was 13 and wanted to be and go if I wanted.  It is only now that it seemed odd he should have told me to say that if the police spoke to me.  When the coppers had gone I asked Danny about Tina and he said there had been some girl ages back who had been in the gang but had gone to Manchester to be a model or summet like that and he thought she was called Tina

It was the first time anyone had used the word gang.  I had not thought they were a gang, but I know now that Brian is the head of the gang and Danny and Phil and the others are his soldiers. That night we went back to the house and Brian was there.  He was real nice to me, told me not to worry about the police.  He sadi Danny had told him I had done good and gave me champagne and then took me upstairs.  He said he had bought me new clothes which were well smart.  Then he says he had got me some really sexy undies which he asked me to try on.  They were from Anne summers and were sexy and then he passed me this fur coat and I put it on over the undies.  I had had some cannabis and with the champagne the fur and sexy stuff I was feeling very naughty and Brian was saying loads of nice things about how good I looked and that I Madonna look like an old dog and that he could speak to some friends about being a model maybe and stuff like that.  Danny came up and Brian said would Danny mind if he made love to this beautiful woman.  Nobody had called me a woman before let alone beautiful.  Brian is rich and well dressed and drives a Lexus and to be honest I was really flattered and felt like a film star.  Danny said OK but no liberties.  Brian had sex with me, but was really gentle and nice.  He knew about women.  When I woke up though the undies and clothes were there but the coat had gone.  I think maybe I dreamt that bit.

I dunno….

Things were good for few days and then the drinking and drugs got more heavy and Danny needed more favours and then there was another girl at the flat and house and then another and we was always at the house like.  Phil used to guard the door cos he is a boxer and well ard.  Gavin was out anaabout getting drugs sales organised for rich people and to other dealers.  Danny spoke to Brian about the supplies.  They never talked to me about it, I just heard bits and pieces.   Everyday we would leave the flat and go to the house where we looked after some friends and uncles of Dannys or Gavins.  We had sex with them to help the boys with the deals.  I dont know how many men it was.

Then one day Gavin is well excited and says he has heard of a bloke out near Reading who can sort them with some pieces.  He said the stuff was quite exy but worked and others had bought from these blokes and nobody had been sold a dud.  I don’t know why they took us,  but we went to this place and they left us in the car and went to this sort of shed place near and industrial estate.  They came out looking well happy and carrying a couple of shopping bags.  I dont know what it was about like but they were acting well pleased.

There was some talk of someone who had dissed them. I dont know what that was all about, but I think he owed Danny or Brian some money for summet.  One Day Brian came and told them that they could now take care of this and sort this other bloke out.  They were saying “yeah no problem Brian were on the case and its sorted”.

A few days later Danny went out one afternoon with Phil and they got back about 5 and they were zooming but in a funny kind of way.  They kept watchin sky news and there was some lad who had got shot in Stockwell or Camberwell and they were well interested but didn’t say nothink like.  We didn’t go to the house that night, well not as usual and then I think it was Brian rang and said what the fuck was goin on and so we went.  There were lots of blokes to see.  Danny and Phil got well off their heads.

By now Danny had got me some tablets I had to take every day like and my periods stopped for some reason.  Danny said not to worry and that I could enjoy myself all the time.  Then there was another change of girls cos the others had gone to a house somewhere else and another had “gone to join Tina” and they all laughed.  I laughed, but there was summet that that made me scared.  I thought lots of these girls is goin North like.  I thought about leaving but every time I said about my mum or dad they would get me stuff and tell me how my parents didn’t love me, they hadn’t been lookin for me or tried to get hold of me or any think.  I was too stupid to fink they didn’t have my new mobile number did they and that my one they knew about was under my bed in the flat.  Just before you came I charged it up in secret and there was loads of messages from my mum and dad asking me to ring them.  Hearing their voices made me sad, but if they knew what a slapper I was I knew they wouldn’t love me, how could they, I was a slag, I wasn’t even a ho cos I wasn’t gettin paid.  I just couldn’t ring them I just couldn’t do it.

When you crashed the house I really thought you was coppers at first and then I was well confused and summet was not quite right.  Then I thought you was going to kill me cos I kept feeling that Danny and Phil had done summet really bad like and I was thinkin how I could get away and be safe.  Maybe I could do like them other girls and go up North maybe I could find that Tina and stay with her..

When I got home I was well scared to start with cos I was worried Danny and Phil and that would come and get me, but then when I heard they was inside and not gettin out  I felt better.  Tell the truth I wasn’t so good when I first got back home infact I was well fucked up.  I started weein the bed and getting belly ache and stuff.  I was sick cos I had an infection down there and some problem with my blood and some other stuff.  I   missed a lota school and stuff cos I was sick and cos I couldn’t cope and kept crying and stuff

I have been to the doctors and am sorted sort of and seen somebody to talk to for counselin and am feeling better.  A bit anyways. I know now it was not my fault.  I knew about not going near blokes in vans or strangers and that but none said nothink about groomers being about my age, well maybe a bit older but you know what I mean.  He seemed so nice, they both did, interested in me, I thought they loved me I thought they wanted me cos I was cool, sexy and smart.  I’m just stupid a kid really……. I should have known, but I was stupid to think someone like that would want a kid like me.

I am trying to catch up on my school stuff and have a teacher to myself to help me catch up.  Its hard to think cos stuff comes into you head and it all gets really crowded, but the lady is really nice and she lets me take my time and that’s good.

My mum and dad and the others are magic and have been really good they give me my space but are there if I need them.  Night times worst, its the nightmares, I see faces and hear voices and things.  It is better but will it ever stop?

At school everyones been really good, most of all Sharon, she said she was a bitch to me before cos she said I was given her static which I wasn’t.  Now if anyone is out of order Sharon looks after me.  She was well cut up herself cos her sister had been found dead I don’t know when exactly, but about when  I went off with Danny.  She was somewhere in Manchester and the police said she had been a prossie and was on drugs.  They couldn’t say if it were an overdose or suicide or summet else. 

She was 17.

Her name was Tina.

Traffic 7 – Time To Go Home

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

I was just about to head back upstairs to see Sam and the other girl when two things struck me.  The first was what about Dannys car and the second was where the fuck was Gavin.  Number 2 was answered almost immediately by some raised voices from the front of the house.  It would seem that Gavin thought of himself as a bit of an athlete, so when the gun went off he was off out the front door like and Olympic sprinter.  Unfortunately for Gavin he ran into the Scouse Git.  Now then, Having his hand secured behind his back put Gavin at a bit of a disadvantage and so SG “decked him like” and dragged him back into the house.  It was fortunate for us that SC had covered the front door as he had, but unfortunately, in the process of being “decked”, Gavin had not been as quite as one would have wished, in fact, the truth be told he had apparently been bloody noisy which is just what we didn’t need.  Somebody was bound to ring the real police – or would they?

I shouted to Boris to get Dannys car keys and to give the car a quick turn over to see what he could find.

Upstairs, I thought I had better have a look at the other girl.  She was not in a good way.  She was away with the fairies, drugged out of her head with God knows what and I was unable to make any real sense of what she was on about.  In my humble opinion I reckoned she was just short of an OD.  There is no way we could take her with us, because a) she was a liability b) she needed proper nay urgent medical assistance and last but not least she was not really our problem.  I know that sounds harsh, but that was a fact.  We knew nothing about her and could be creating a whole can of worms for ourselves if we dragged her out of this place.

She was untied and put on the bed in the recovery position.  Benny or Obo I forget which had got the name and addresses of the two punters and checked their drivers licences and after they had got dressed and were off like a couple of middle aged pot bellied whippets.

Back in the front room we got Sam up and released her arms and helped her get dressed.  She didn’t seem drugged, but she was dazed and confused.  The punter was quiet but when I went to release his ankles he started playing up again.  Threatening us with all sorts of violence and unpleasantness.  He was one of these who knew this bloke or that bloke and threw names  at us in an effort to impress us.  Sadly for him he was wasting his breath because they meant nothing to me, but I suppose they were some sort of local hard men of South London Mafia.  Mind you even if I did know them, so what?  He was trussed like a Christmas turkey and they weren’t here.  I asked him how the news that he was really a paedophile would go down in any of the Sarf london boozers he would use and he went rather quiet at that point.  So what to do with him?   A plan came to mind.  Benny and Obo dragged him into the other room and dumped him on the bed with the other girl.

Another couple of minutes had gone by and now it really was time to fuck off pdq.  We all went downstairs with Sam and she was taken straight out and put into the back of one of the vans with Benny.

Boris in the meantime has had a quick shufty through Dannys mean machine.  He had found more drugs and money plus a very convincing looking Uzi.

Time to Go

“Right listen up.  Take most of the money, but leave the guns here except for the uzi. Throw some of the drugs and cash about in both rooms, upset a bit of furniture on your way out. Team1 out to you van and go.  Team 2 one of you get your van round here nice and slowly and park just up the road ready to go.”

“SG whats your view of our mans car”

“What do you mean Boss?”

“What the electrics like”

“Oh well dodgy like, they are always goin up in smoke round my way you know”

“Funnily enough that doesn’t come as a shock. Could you give his a quick once over for me”

“No probs but we best get movin like”

And we did.  Those leaving walked casually from the house and into their respective vehicles.  The first van drove off quite normally and a few seconds later SG had driven off in the other direction and 99.9% of the population would not have given the activity a second thought.  Thirty seconds later everyone else from the team apart from me was in the other van down the road.   Gavin, Danny, the Black lad and the Sarf London Geezer were left secured in the house, the front door wide open.  The other lass crashed out on the bed.  I picked up the uzi and thought about giving a quick burst into the air and then decided against it because strangely enough there was a warm cosy glow radiated from the inside of Danny’s car, looks as if SG was right and the electrics on Danny’s car were dodgy and it had gone on fire.   I dropped the Uzi on the ground by the entrance to the house and slowly walked down the road to meet the other van.

We trundled away towards Bromley, but were passed by a police car and then two armed response units blatting towards where we had come from.

There was still quite a bit for the team to do, but for the moment the most important thing was to reunite Sam with her parents.  I changed out of my overalls and took off the body armour.  My face really hurt and I had a terrible headache, but it would have to wait.

Team1 had dropped Sam along with Dave H not far from Sam’s house a few minutes before I got there.  They were standing there silently in the cold.  I got out of the van and nobody spoke and it drove off quietly and nonchalantly.  Dave nodded but said nothing to me and just walked off.  I took Sam gently by the shoulder and we started to walk towards he home.  The snow had turned back to sleet and it was damp and cold and bloody miserable.

She shuffled along, her head  down her hair hung limply over her face and shoulders.  Her confidence, self respect and childhood was gone.  We turned into her road but about 50 yards or so from her house she stopped.  She stood dead still her head even lower and her shoulders and and head started to shake up and down as she started to cry.  I stood in front of her and took both her hands gently in mine.  She lifted her head up and looked up at me.

Total despair.

Her eyes were red and her make up was all over the place.  She looked like the living dead and at that point I think she probably was the living dead.

“Mister” she gasped between sobs.


“Who are you, what’s gonna happen to me, what am I gonna do, who will ‘ave  me now?” she sniffed

“Who I am is not important, what happens to you now is very much up to you, but as for who’s going to have you and look after you, well that’s easy”

“Who” she sobbed

“Your mum and dad”

“Huh yeah but yea but no no no, they wont want me, not like this”

“How do you know?”

“Well who would”

“They do”

“Yeah but yeah how can you be so sure for real”

“Because that’s why they employed me to find you and get you”

“They paid you?”

“Yes, you didn’t think we were knights in shining armour and just happen to burst in by chance did you?”

She shrugged “Well I didn’t know what to think, I thought you was gonna kill us or sommit or that you were the police”

I put my hand on her shoulder “Come on chicken cheer up, it’s not that bad, nothing ever is, you just can’t see it at the moment, it’ll be alright, I promise”

She looked up and into my eyes.  I held her stare and after what seemed eternity she smiled and wiped her nose on her sleeve and for the first time I could almost see the girl in the photo.  I passed her my hankie and wiped her eyes and got most of the smeared make up off.  It wasn’t great, but it was better, at least now she just looked more like a tired girl than a extra from “Shaun of the Dead”.

“Come on” I said “Lets go its bloody freezing”

We got her gate and I opened it and stood back to let her go first.

“Mister will you come with me please.  I’m well scared, I think I might shit myself”

“You’re fine, your tummy is just a bit upset from shock and fright, we all get it, but you wont shit I promise”

“Oh” she let out a little wail “I don’t know if I can do this”

I held her chin in my hand and looked her in the eyes “I said you’re going to be OK and I will be here to make sure you are”

She looked back and smiled and then slowly and very gently touched my throbbing swollen cheek

“Thank you”

“Your welcome, now then lets do this shall we”

She smiled and nodded.  We walked down the path and I rang the door bell. We stood and waited for what seemed like an age.

“Maybe they aren’t in, maybe they have gone out”

A few seconds later the door was opened by Mum and warm yellow light and the warmth and smell of home flooded the freezing cold door step.  Dad was there in the next instant.

There were no cries of delight or anything like that just the unconditional unquestioning love of two parents for their child.  They wrapped her up in their arms and the miracle of that love turned the living dead back into a little girl.  Actions speak louder than words.

Silently I stepped back and slipped down the path and away into the freezing cold night.

Threes a family, Norms a crowd.