Chapter 17 has been revised I welcome your comments
Thousand to One - The story so far:
SEPTEMBER 1985 LONDON
Businessman and fraudster GEORGE DIXON and his Accountant Partner SYD LAWRENCE have fled Manchester
after Sinjon was murdered. They now operate in London. A "couldn't lose" has been offered. But there's many a slip!
CHAPTER ELEVEN 2nd SEPTEMBER 1985
SOMEWHERE IN NORTH
Not a good start for the day.
Far too early in the morning his mole rang.
'They've decided on the Eastern by-pass.'
'What did you say?'
'You heard - Eastern.'
'But Roberts told us they were eating
out of his hand. All were under his control that's why...'
'Roberts is in hospital. Collapsed with heart problems. Gotta go now.'
Silence, followed by the dialling tone.
SEVEN MONTHS EARLIER
‘Hello Arthur, tell
me why are we meeting in this dive?’
Arthur Roberts, or to be precise Councillor AT Roberts, one of Syd Lawrence’s dubious clients smiled his smug smile at George, ‘got a proposition you’ll be interested in and I don’t
want to be where they know me.’
‘So? A shady deal then?’
‘Let’s say one to our mutual benefit.’
George looked at the short, well fed and self satisfied looking man with disdain. ‘We don’t
have much in common, but now I’m here you may as well carry on.’
‘I think we can work together,’ Roberts smirked. ‘You know about the proposed by-pass?’
‘The one taking the through traffic to the east
of the town?’
‘The one to divert the traffic to the east OR the west of the borough,’ the fat man grinned.
‘There’s a difference?’
‘What do you mean?’
fat man leaned closer to George. ‘The difference is that I own fifty acres of land directly on the route of a western by-pass.’
‘If I can visualise it, but correct me if I’m wrong it’s crappy waste land not worth much at
Roberts, to George’s relief, sat back – a close-up view not to be recommended - thumbs in his waistcoat pockets. ‘It is, if the Council decide on the Western by-pass.’
‘What chance is there of that happening?’
George already knew the answer.
‘Because I can guarantee it.’
‘Guarantee? That’s a strong word. How?’
Councillor Roberts tapped the side of his nose with a stubby forefinger. ‘Did you not know I am the
Chairman of the Road and Communication Committee of the London Borough of Barnet, and certain members of the committee owe me?’
Dixon had gained some knowledge of local government. This was not the first scam to be put up to him. ‘Don’t
you have to declare pecuniary interests or be excluded from participating in discussions and voting?’
‘Yes, and that is why its important to me to dispose of the land, and also defer consideration of the by-pass for at least six months.
However, I do have urgent need for money.’
Whatever Syd learned from his clients, such was his relationship with Dixon, he divulged it. So George knew of Roberts’ penchant for roulette, and blondes, but possessing neither the luck nor the
‘What’s your proposal Arthur?’
‘I need a hundred grand, the land when - not if - will be essential for the by-pass will be worth, say two hundred and fifty thousand, but we need an end purchaser so I
am not the last owner. Nor should you be,’ he added.
‘Whoa there, let’s talk reason, you mean you need seventy thousand, and the land will be worth two hundred, and if I buy - where incidentally do you think I can access seventy grand
– it has to be on-sold at least six months before the vote. My head in the noose if things go wrong.’
‘Mr Dixon. You have my word on honour that the Barnet By-Pass is routed to the west.’
‘And that’s good enough?’
‘I think so.’
Dixon remembered the manor-like house occupied by the Roberts family, no doubt mortgaged. ‘How about sealing the guarantee by putting your house on the line as collateral?’
‘Can’t do that.’
‘No deal. The risks are all mine.’
The two men bartered, and in the end Roberts’ need for a reduced but still substantial fifty thousand pounds prevailed. The illegal agreement to be drafted by Syd Lawrence “sold” the
land to Dock Green International. A deposit of ten thousand, and the balance of fifty thousand to be paid when the land was on-sold.
Roberts promised to shepherd through an alternative route for a by-pass road to the west rather than the favoured route
to the east.
The lubrication of palms and fixing of surveyors' reports all affected the selling price were Robert’s responsibility. The land he no longer owned would, in seven months’ time, become an essential requirement for the western
George promised his ownership would be brief.
Later that evening Dixon and Lawrence discussed the proposal for which Syd was to prepare the agreement.
‘One party comes to mind’ mused Syd, ‘who would be
interested, but can we handle him?’
‘You mean French Alby?’
French Alby - Alby Duvall, Gallic down to his socks. Black slicked-down hair, thin pencil moustache, even the positioning of the beret he almost
always wore. He only needed a blue and white striped jumper, to be dancing L’Apache. Except, that is, for the belly that lolloped over the buckle of his belt and for the fact he was born in Streatham and his preferred language when in familiar company
was Cockney rhyming slang. In his I-want-to-impress voice, unless you were French, you might think he was a Parisian.
French Alby ran Gold Crown Incorporated, a grandiose title for a bunch of thugs involved in gambling, prostitution, drugs and
Syd, not wanting direct involvement arranged for George to meet Alby.
‘Mon Dieu, why should moi want to meet your m’sieur Dix-on?’
‘Alby I know we’re not china plates [mates] but
you’re keen on the old bees and honey [money] and George has a proposition that you’d kick yourself up the fife and drum [bum] if you missed it.’ Syd had run through his pre-prepared rhyming slang. ‘Let’s talk
Alby looked suspicious, ‘where’s he want to meet then?’
‘You name it, but make it public, and, he stressed - be alone.’
‘What’s the deal?’
‘Up to you find
out from George.’
‘Do I know George?’
‘You met him a few months back, but I can vouch for his veracity.’
‘I can vouch for his integrity – he is to be trusted. You
‘He’ll keep shtum?’
‘Tight as, tight as verger’s coat.’
Dixon couldn’t miss Alby when they met, one quiet night, in the lounge of “The Drunken Duck”.
– George Dixon. We met last June. Let’s sit in the corner away from prying ears. What are you drinking?’
‘Pernod.’ Alby stood and walked over to the corner table. Took the glass without comment. ‘Well, M’seur
Dixon what do you want with moi?’
‘First I want you stop pissing around pretending you’re a Frog. Second I want to talk about a business deal which will guarantee a hundred percent – or more return. Are you interested?’
‘I don’t remember your face Mister Dixon, but Alby doesn’t forget so don’t get clever with me. What is the deal?”
Dixon outlined the plan. Alby’s price was a hundred thousand, the guarantee over Roberts’
‘If you’re the owner why should you pass it on to me?’
‘I’m only the owner because of the deposit I paid, not having the balance, nor the credit for the balance. The guy who is selling needs
urgent funds, I’m making, shall we say, a finder’s fee for him, but his name can’t be on the deeds, and neither should mine be. There would be no problem for you.’
‘You think not, and mon amie you believe that Alby Duvall’s
name should appear?”
‘Not at all but it would sit comfortably in Gold Crown Incorporated’s portfolio.’
‘Oui, but not at one hundred thousand pounds.’ He rose, ‘I will meet you here on Thursday, but if
I am interested it will be at seventy thousand.’
George stood, glass in hand, ‘Ninety.’
They haggled, the gap narrowed until a price of seventy-five thousand was agreed. Dixon had given ground, but was happy making a quick profit
of around twenty thousand after paying Roberts fifty, plus five as a bonus.
‘It is understood,’ Alby told him, ‘there is no agreement yet, we will talk about it on Thursday.’
‘Okay by me.’
shook hands nor smiled, but went their separate ways.
Afterwards, talking to Syd, George said. ‘he’s biting, we negotiated I eventually backed down rather more than he did, but I think it worked. He feels he is in a position of power.
What an obnoxious man.’
Syd Lawrence chuckled, ‘I can help because Alby’s numbers man is a mate. I can run into him in his local, and drop a few hints about you allowing him to get his own way. Knowing Len, he will bite, so the
deal’s is as good as made.’
Alby and George met a couple of days later, and after another jousting session the deal was done at seventy-five thousand. They also agreed that Syd and Len would do the paperwork. Dixon stressed they needed an
early settlement and was surprised when Alby raised no objections. With Roberts the final payment hinged on the western route for the by-pass so he had to be happy with the deposit already paid.
‘The f***ing Eastern route.’
Dixon slammed down the receiver, and sat with his head in his hands.
‘The bastard assured me one hundred percent certainty the western route would go ahead. Where
the f**k does it leave me now?' He answered his own question, ‘Up shit creek without a paddle.'
‘Got to speak to Syd’.
'Put Mr Lawrence on. Yes, this is urgent. No I don't care if he is tied up. Put me through. Christ almighty
George Dixon speaking, don’t you recognise my voice? All right tell him to ring me as soon as.'
He paced round the room. Picked up and opened a Daily Telegraph, screwed it up and threw it into the fireplace. Stared out of the window. Walked round
The phone rang.
'Hi George, what the hell's the panic? Can’t talk got an important meet...'
'Don’t worry too much but they're chosen the f***ing eastern route. Now how important is whatever’s occupying your
mind? What's happened to the money?'
Almost silence, apart from heavy, laboured breathing echoed through the earpiece for almost a minute. His asthma sounded to be building into a crescendo set off by the bad news.
'What! I thought Roberts gave us a guarantee.'
'Yeah, so you told me, but he didn’t attend the meeting, he’s in hospital – heart attack. How safe is the dosh? Put all mine into that new account pronto. My new account, you opened
for me. Remember?’'
'Money’s safe and the transfer of your share will go through today, but where do we stand in this? Alby's not going to be happy. How long can we hold him off before he puts his heavies on to us?'
'Not long before
he finds out his 50 acres is worth zilch, he ain't gonna be full of the joys of.'
‘Yeah, but how long have we got?’
That was something they had to find out, the land remained worthless, but owned by someone who would still want a
fat profit. Arthur’s gambling and whoring debts still stood, because of the no deal no pay agreement. At least they held the seventy-five thousand less the ten thousand deposit, and they had no intention of reimbursing French Alby.
must meet soon, but not here. I'm going down to Richmond as a temporary measure, and I’ll be at the other place.'
His future plans didn't necessarily involve Syd, but remained flexible. He acknowledged the need for Syd and he to work together
now the by-pass plan had hit him in the face.
'You realise you must move on; you won’t be safe for long? I must get back to my conference and meet you later this afternoon. But you didn’t tell me how long we had before the excreta came into
contact with the electrical appliance.'
' We don't meet here; I’ll be at the other place but only until three this afternoon. Don’t forget you’re in this as much as I am.’
'Don’t you think
I’m aware of that. Don’t panic I’ll give you a call before three. But how long before the…’
‘Syd we've got less than a week because the announcement of the By-Pass is not until next Monday, but I’ll try to
buy some time, perhaps a file can be missing or something, or someone going sick. I’ll see what I can do. Don’t forget from now George Dixon doesn’t exist, only Robert Preston, or Alan Bridges.’
‘Yeah, yeah yeah I won’t
forget. ‘I’ll call you before three.’
George didn't believe in paperwork. A few necessary records kept in his briefcase and everything else on several 5¼ inch floppy disks which slotted into his new expensive toy. Not dissimilar
to a Singer sewing machine when closed - and as heavy.
Opening the top revealed the latest model Portable Computer, made by the fledgling Compaq Computer Corporation. The few papers and files in his desk he crammed into his briefcase. Rent paid [in
cash] up to the end of the month, but he had no intention of returning.
He turned in the rental car and took the tube to Richmond to the first of his temporary hideouts. Later today, he intended to abandon the flat in of favour of his second more spacious
accommodation no more than half a mile away. After making a few changes to his appearance he would become his other identity – Robert Preston, in preference to Alan Bridges. Although he used Bridge’s name for the new rental car.
The tube from North London to Richmond did not relax him but allowed time to consider his options. Safety in numbers dictated that his two hideaways were local where he could be anonymous in the city rather than draw attention to himself in rural
surroundings or a country town. n any case he preferred the familiarity of the city. For both rental properties he paid the rent anonymously in cash.
He walked through Manor Road and into Manor Gardens. His third floor flat, small but expensive became
hideaway number one. Double locking the door, he dropped his bags in the bedroom and stripping off his shirt he turned on the hot tap and with scissors and razor removed the full beard which had been almost a trade mark since he left Manchester. This revealed
the distinctive question-mark scar. Next he tackled his hair, first clipping followed by shaving until his scalp took on the appearance of a billiard ball. After showering, he changed from his normal sharp business suit into sloppy woollen jumper and jeans.
Rooting through the bedside cabinet he found and put on a pair of tinted spectacles.
Time for lunch and to test his new persona.