It was enough to make you sick. And I remember thinking, ‘I’ve seen all this before.’ As anyone who has been toThailand, or seen TV programmes about the place knows, there are plenty of fat, old European men walking up and down the streets, especially in Patya, with a young nubile beauty on each arm. But that isn’t anything I have a problem with. Each to their own. But what makes my skin crawl, is when they start professing how much these girls love them, because that’s just stupidity.
Anyway that was my first meeting with Mr John Waite, international arms dealer, and his trophy wife, Tim. After that exchange of pleasantries, and a bit of chit chat, they excused themselves and went to bed.
During the next ten days I had plenty of time to talk to Roger privately, and plenty of time to listen to John Waite and get a feel for the situation in general, and the opinion I formed was that John Waite was a braggart, who was not to be trusted. And his wife timid, Tim, wasn’t so timid. In fact I formed an opinion of her that proved to be very accurate; she was a very deep and devious little beggar.
Roger, it transpired , was bankrolling Waite, not only paying the rent on the property in Plympton, but paying for his flights to and fromThailand, and train fare toLondon. I tried to warn Roger, and asked if he didn’t think he was a bit out of his depth, but he wouldn’t hear it, telling me all about the contract they had drawn up giving him 50% of all the business that John Waite drummed up, and telling me how long he had known him, and how much he trusted him. In other words, whatever I said wasn’t going to do any good. He was convinced John Waite was going to make him a millionaire, and that he was the best thing since sliced bread.
Some other snippets of information came to light as well; one being John Waite was still married to an English woman, and had paid a dowry to Tim’s family in Thailand to marry her over there, and that a friend of Roger’s called Billy Green had married Tim in England so she could stay in the country and apply for a British Passport. As I said earlier, it was all a bit iffy to me, but none of it surprised me.
When I was due to get on the train and leave Plymouth to join my next ship, Roger’s parting words were, ‘Don’t go anywhere else scouse, you spend your leave here from now on.’ and then added, ‘You will be able to pack work in pretty soon and travel around with me and Elaine. You will never have to worry about money again.’
And he meant it, although I thought he was going to be given a rude awakening at some stage in this very dubious business relationship.
It was some eight months before I landed in theUK, because at this stage of my sea going career I had learned how the Merchant Navy had changed, and the best way to do things. And I now shipped out on flagged-out vessels, and didn’t pay any income tax or national insurance stamp. The only deduction from my earnings was my union dues, but there were rules attached to that status. One of them being the one-sixth tax law, in other words you were allowed to spend one sixth of the time you were away in theUKbefore you were liable for any tax. Stay a minute longer, and you became liable to pay the lot for that year.
I phoned Roger only to be told by John Waite that Roger and Elaine were living in Bangkok, but to get myself up to Plymouth and stay with them, because that’s what Roger had wanted, and Waite insisted he and Tim felt the same adding, ‘Any friend of Roger’s is a friend of mine, scouse.’
So I just said ‘That’s great, I will be up in a couple of days, after I have seen a mate of mine in the Seaman’sUnion.’
Eventually, I made my way down toPlymouth. I was picked up at the station by John, who was all smiles and very chatty.
The upshot was he told me he had taken Roger toThailandwith him for a business trip accompanied by Tim and Elaine, and that it had been decided that Roger and Elaine would stay there, so Roger could look after their business interests, while Waite worked on further business deals in theUK. It all sounded as though things were going great, and that Roger had hit the jackpot, and I had been a bit too suspicious and had got it wrong.
But the idea of my being wrong was short lived, and my intuition about this man was right. He was just what I thought, in fact he was worse, much worse.
The first couple of days were pleasant enough, and I had decided to play it by ear and see all, hear all, and say nothing. And it worked because this fellah just couldn’t resist boasting.
What kept running through my mind each night before falling to sleep, was that I should be the spy in the camp for Roger, because slowly but surely Waite was dropping the façade. Silly little things at first, like he thought Roger would be better off without Elaine, and of course I played up to this by agreeing, which pleased him and Tim, who was quite the little bitch on the sly, and the cracks in their relationship started to appear. Not all was how it seemed, and I felt the friendship I had with Roger put the onus upon me to see just what was going on, that to me is what friends are for.
So now I started to work at it, and because of his bragging he made it easy. He loved people who agreed with him, and that was no big deal for me as, let’s face it, I owed this pair nothing.
To keep this short, I will tell you that John Waite tried to divert my loyalty away from Roger and over to him. He hated Elaine, and Roger wasn’t doing any business in Thailand. John had effectively got rid of Roger and had him living in The River Plaza Hotel inBangkok, just so he could get on with doing his deals, and not letting Roger know everything he was up to. He told me he had no intention of sharing fifty-fifty, his exact words were, ‘Come on scouse, I can’t take him anywhere, he just doesn’t fit.’ Quickly adding, ‘I love Roger, and I will make sure he is well taken care of, but fifty–fifty, no chance. This business is me. I am the business. My contacts, my expertise, he can’t do anything.’
Acting a bit stupid I said, ‘You’re going to have to be careful though, because of the contract.’
That made him laugh: ‘That’s not worth the paper its written on scouse. You don’t think I am that stupid do you? Listen, a half of one percent as commission on just one of the deals I’ve got in the pipeline could be up to a million pounds. Roger’s in on the rice, and some of the oil deals, but I can’t share the money from the arms. Come on scouse, these deals take a lot of work and negotiations, and what’s Roger done to share that?’