Sunday, January 18, 2009


Well, apart from the fact he once bought my dad a pint in a pub in Cricklewood in the late '70s (("Wrote it all himself!" the old man would yell, like McGoohan was fucking family or something)): I was on this journo course, and one of our assignments was to get a freelance piece into a mag or paper. Didn't matter what it was; just as long as you pitched an article to someone and they printed your ramblings. If you got paid it was a bonus. Suffice to say, everyone on the course who applied to "Melody Maker", "Vogue", "NME", "Sky", "GQ" or "Musik" was kicked to the curb.

Gradually, some folks secured breakthroughs. Someone landed an article with "The Voice"; another winged some work with "South London Press". Some girl even bagged a crack at "Homes and Gardens" and was deemed so good she got a full-time job there. Me? I ended up only just managing to get a piece into a security magazine about a new CCTV scheme in Walworth, having screwed up an offer to do a week's work experience with some Surrey-based magazine about supermarket distribution (I turned up visibly hungover and spilt coffee over a PC).

There was a bloke on our course called Rob. He was ex-public school. I don't want to perpetuate stereotypes, but he would call everyone "Mate" while making it sound like "Meat" and was a bit oafish at the best of times. But I actually found him OK - he wasn't snobbish, condescending, pro-Tory or pretending to be an anarchist dissident called 'Spider', anyway - and have a great memory of dragging him and his utterly cantankerous, judgemental, imbecilic rich Danish girlfriend for a "drink" at my then local punk pub, the Dew Drop ((I didn't mention that it was Two-Chord Anarcho-Crustie Thrashcore Night - he turned up in a Paul Smith shirt and chinos. He lasted about 20 minutes - though, in his defence, it was his snotty girlfriend who freaked out, had a paddy and insisted on leaving)).

Anyway, Rob managed to blag an article for "Autocar". This was seriously big shit. OK, I doubt the average BTI reader has much interest in cars. Apart from the Ford Capri, I know next to jack about them either. I prefer motorbikes anyway. But Rob was obsessed with cars and "Autocar" was a massive mag at the time.

His assignment was to interview Patrick McGoohan about the yellow Lotus sportscar he drove in the opening sequence to "The Prisoner", for some 'Classic Cars' section. I mentioned that Patrick McGoogan once bought my dad a pint in the late '70s. "Who is he?" Rob asked me. "The bloke who stuck it up my mum. Used to go on about Yasser Arafat all the time," I replied. ("GET ON WITH IT" - A READER) "No, he was in "The Prisoner", you must know that!" I reasoned. "Sort of, meat - but I never watched it. Wasn't that in the 60s?" Rob asked. "Yeah, but Channel 4 put it on a few years ago," I tried to help.

So, I sat in his kitchen one night, drinking his San Miguel, and explaining the whole concept of "The Prisoner" while his spoilt brat girlfriend did her contrived 'bored' 'why couldn't you ask one of your normal friends round' act. Anyway, he knew about the car in question, so no need to worry about researching the whole thing from scratch. "Autocar" had given him McGoohan's agent's number, no hard work involved at all. Plain sailing. Better than writing about security cameras and talking to some corpse at Southwark Council, anyway.

A week later, Rob was extremely upset. It turned out that Patrick McGoohan had soundly abused him down the phone, rattling off sarcastic replies, interrupting him mid-sentence and then calling him a "fucking twerp" and slamming the phone down. So, Rob never got his interview. I don't want to sound excessively cuntish but, ever since, any mention of Patrick McGoohan's always brought a tear of laughter to my eye. Last time I rented "Scanners" on DVD, I couldn't get into the flick without repeatedly thinking about McGoohan taking a pre-arranged phonecall and barking, "YOU FUCKING TWERP" down the line. I lost contact with Rob shortly after and haven't spoken to him in over 11 years, but the thought of him tutting and muttering "About time...", on hearing that Number 6 has gone to the boneyard, also makes me laugh. RIP.
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