Tuesday, October 7, 2008
There’s something delightful in carrying £53,000 in cash as you walk past the beggars and market stalls of Laverstone town. The late 70s always looked to be in the first stage of decomposition to me – a piece of prescience for the End of All Songs.*
I entered the brick and gravel board council building just as they were opening, but still managed to be behind a professional male dancer at the reception. I tapped him on the shoulder. “You’re going to Hell,” I said when he turned around.
“Everything is, man,” he said.
Which pretty much sums up the seventies.
When it was my turn I put my folder and the bag of money on the desk. “I represent the Waterman Trust,” I said. “I want to buy St. Marples.”
“That old church?” The receptionist turned a lip gloss smile to me. “I don’t think it’s for sale, sir. I’ll call down someone from property for you.”
“You do that.” I leaned over and pushed a five pound note into her cleavage. She was going to act all indignant until she realised no-one was watching. She tucked it into her purse instead. “If you’d just like to wait…”
The chap from planning was affable but apologetic. “Not for sale, I’m afraid,” he said.
I produced the land registry documents and a calculator. “Then I must present you with a bill for the leasehold,” I said. “It was a shilling in 1859, so by my calculation you owe the Waterman Trust 116,314 pounds, three shillings and fourpence.”
*Did you know that in the seventies Michael Moorcock was writing fifteen hours a day, Monday to Thursday, four hours editing on Friday and then off to the printers on lunchtime. A book a week makes for a huge back catalogue, and all on a typewriter.