Thursday, 17 May 2012

Americans,Aristocrtats  and a deringer

 I ended up selling my Sumban Ikats to Somerset Maugham's grand son, Jonathon Hope 3rd Baron of Glendevon, thanks to an introduction by Noelle Simpson. I had shown the collection to some interior designers - Anne Greville - Bell, who thought they were hideous!! I explained that they were ceremonial shrouds that sometimes are used for wrapping the dead.Jonathon as it happened was collector and knew them for what they were, and I sold them for what I paid - so my time as a trader in East indo artifacts turned out a waste of time, considering the amount spent presenting them to galleries in Paris and Amsterdam.

I had rallied some of Charles Osborne's' American friends in London due to my efforts to help him get off the booze, which didn't last long.Peter Bennett being one and Peter Morton another who had just opened the Hard Rock Cafe in Mayfair.

Peter Bennett asked me to move into his house he was renting in Ebury Street , Belgravia, which was around the corner from Victoria Railway Station,nice and handy to the London Tube.The house was owned by Charles Worthington - Worthington Breweries and related to the Noel Cowards song ; ( Don't put your daughter on stage) Mrs Worthington.

 Charles W had inherited this house when he turned 21 and had not done much to the house, which was a three level, brick, free standing, town house, built back in the seventeen hundreds, the basement used to be the servants quarters, had been converted into a self contained one bedroom apartment and the other levels into living and sleeping quarters.

 In the back garden, which was long and narrow, he had built a folly; it was a large purpose designed party room, about 200sm,constructed and designed in the Palladium style.Ffteen foot ceilings,  Italian Carrera Columns and white marble floors, two fireplaces on opposite sides of the room, several giant beige velvet sofas scattered throughout the room and  the latest  B & O sound system. Water feature at the entrance and a spiral staircase leading up to a roof garden,

This 'Folly' that Charles W had built was designed to be 'party central' unfortunately Peter was in no party mood when I met with him and decided to move in. His wife Sara had recently left him for a wealthy Arab and taken both their children Oliver and Susan.
Peter was a tall angular guy about six three,he was fair in complexion with scars from acney on his face from when he was a kid.Very outgoing and confident he came from San Francisco after graduating from Yale and became the brightest and youngest stockbroker in San Francisco. Where he met Sara, became married, had Susan and Oliver and then they moved to London when the kids became school age.

Peter joined up with rmerchant banker with Merrill Lynch in charge of aircraft financing  and he was 'hurting big time' and in all sorts of therapy to help cope with the separation,when I moved into Ebury Street. In the ensuing months I would become exposed to more of  the therapies and counselling that Peter was being instructed  about and using to unburden his hurt and mend his soul. This was countered on the other side with Charles Osborne,who, reverting back, to his old ways of ' just getting pissed' or off his face with what drug happence to be around at the time.  With me bookended between the two, some sort of collision was meant to happen.

I had my own quarters consisting of bedroom, sitting room and bathroom on the ground floor, Peter lived in the two upper levels and Ennis Montague, another colourful 'knock a bout' also moved in, and took over the basement . Ennis was English, through and through, the illegitimate son of Lord Montague of Beaulieu and his mother was the Queen of the Pearlie's (cockney aristocracy!!) and he had a car yard in Lambeth and knew everyone from the Royals to East End Gangsters. Ennis was about six foot two and reminded me of a big shambling bear, he was bent over at the shoulders and had a big smiling face with long unkempt black wavy hair.

So the two of us used to take over the "Folly" with an assortment of Ennis's aristocratic girlfriends, like; Anne Lambton, daughter of the Earl of Durham and Katie Windsor - Lewis and  a Russian Princess called Valentina Seminyenko and my my colonial mates who were often flying in and out. Occasionally Peter would take us to his club "Wedgies" on Fulham Road or we would meet up with friends at "Tramps" or "Annabelle's" which were the three most popular clubs in London at this time and from where we would return with a retinue of 'randoms' and party to the early hours.

Charles O would visit often, on one such time he asked if I could help, by accompanying him to a lady friends apartment who had been beaten up by her ex. She was trying to get her  ex Arab boyfriend to move out, as he was of violent behaviour and had recently belted her up which was responsible for their splitting up, and she was scared that he would be like that when he came to get his belongings. So she asked Charles if he would be present when her ex, Sargon, turned up.

Charles had a pre Civil War Derringer on his desk which he used as a paper weight and was a family heirloom, probably used as a duelling pistol.He decided to take this when we went to help this damsel in distress, much to my dismay!! When we got to her apartment I hid the derringer in a waste paper bin  and we waited for Sargon to appear. After time, he arrived and off course Charles had to be a hero and tried to fight the guy, which in turn, I had to break up as Charles was in no fit shape to blow out a candle. As I pulled Charles from underneath him, as the two of them were wrestling on the stairs,Sargon the Arab, vanished out the front door.
After we got our breath and sorted the place out. I decided to take the derringer off the premises and as I was walking out the front door with the derringer in my jacket pocket. The door bell rang and when I opened the door Sargon was there with the Police who immediately asked "what did I have in my pocket "- to which I replied "a gun".Which I handed over and they asked who was the owner to which I replied "Charles Osborne" and explained that it was not loaded and I was tacking it off premises, back to where it came from. They asked "Did I have a license to carry a firearm", No officer - more police arriving, and we were  taken down to Belgravia Police Station and charged with possession of a firearm.

Peter came down and bailed us out and this started another saga that lasted for twelve months of legals, weekly appearances at Belgravia Police Station and court appearances.To be eventually  acquitted, as  it was proven the Derringer could not be fired and was not an offensive weapon. 

So over that period, I used to go to Dolphin Square in the mornings, Dolphin Square was a deluxe complex of apartments with a twenty five meter, six lane, indoor pool, where I would do laps,train and keep myself fit.Harrods was around the corner,and I often would wander through on my way over to see Charles who had his apartment in Pont Street.Charles was always hatching up schemes and ideas which often had merit but always required finance and he was finding that no one would finance him because of his heavy drinking and reliance on alchohol.Besides always trying to think of a scheme to obtain possession of the Bali Hotel, another idea which we spent months on researching and time in preparation of presentations and flow charts; was to supply video content for the CCTV circuitry installed in to the Hilton Group in the Emirates of which there were about seven properties in the group. For this we brought in one of Charles acquaintances Dennis Scuse who was the director of programming for the BBCTV. But like everything Charles tried, the dreaded booze got in the way and I was always the one to pull him out of the shit so as Christmas 1980 was looming I decided to fly home and see my parents and catch up with what was happening in Australia.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tony,
    Had to laugh when you felt like Gurdjieff
    in his 'Meetings with remakable men'
    It must have been a wonderful time, and well worth only recouping your money on the artifacts.