Gangsters tried to kill me.
One evening, I was waiting for a friend at the bar in a disco in Soho.
Sitting at the next table was a beautiful girl who looked lonely. I dropped my handkerchief and this resulted in starting a conversation which I would later regret.
I arranged to meet her for a drink. She suggested that I called at her flat, so at 8 pm I drove up to her address and waited. After a few minutes, she came out of her front door and walked over to my car.
She told me she was going to be another ten minutes and invited me in for a drink. The building had obviously been a hotel because the entrance was a small reception area. It was eerily quiet. There was no sign of life; even the carpet had been removed. I followed her up the stairs. Her flat was on the 4th floor, so it was quite a climb.
Still no sign of life. She opened the door and beckoned me in. I still had my hand on the doorknob as she threw herself on the bed. Standing to one side of the bed was a massive guy with a broken nose and on the other side, a scar-faced guy who looked like he was created by the devil.
I’d been set up.
I weigh 14 stone and was wearing a leather bomber jacket which made me look heavier. They probably expected a much smaller man. They hesitated. That first impression gave me a few seconds.
I looked at them and grunted as if it was a normal occasion and kept as steely-eyed as I could. “I forgot to lock my car and my wallet is in there,” I said.
I thought that excuse would give me a few more seconds.
I opened the door and ran along the landing to the top of the first flight. I went down in about three strides. A mountain goat would have been proud of me. I ran along the next landing and flew down the stairs.
Then I heard a crash and shouts containing socially unacceptable language. My clumsy ‘friends’ had collided, which gave me more seconds. Finally, I reached the ground floor and could hear their pounding feet not far behind.
I ran into the reception area and looked at the front door ahead of me. The chrome handle looked locked. I realised that if it didn’t open, I would probably be dead.
The other problem was that the door was glazed with wired glass. This meant that if you pushed your hand through the glass, your arm would be torn to bits.
Time seemed to stand still. I grabbed the handle and the door opened. It was not yet time to celebrate because they were only a few yards behind me and I still had to open my car door. With hindsight, I should have run into the nearest underground station and disappeared, but my car was personal. I told myself it was normal to shake with nerves and I might miss the lock on my first attempt.
They were now running down the steps outside the house. I opened the car door and leapt in. My hands were shaking as I found the ignition. As my trusty Sirocco burst into life, I jammed it into first and screamed away from the kerb. I glanced in the mirror as they tried to grab the car.
However, my nightmare wasn’t over. Twenty-five yards ahead of me were red traffic lights which I was in no mood to obey. The road ahead was a busy main road leading to the M1. By some miracle, it was empty. I went flat out through the gears to about 70 mph. Strangely, I was laughing almost hysterically.
I must learn to control myself.