Why I write

I have been asked why I write. That is a question I’ve asked myself a number of times. The answer, I guess, is that I’m not sure how not to write. I’ve amassed files of “stuff” – notebooks,  stories, poetry, scraps of papers with overheard conversations – they don’t have any distinction or literary merit. They go back many years and are no more than the bits and pieces that record the life that I was leading at any one time.

Life had taken me on some strange journeys, lorry driver, newsagent, starting my own newspaper – a free sheet – then a freelance journalist.

Journalism came about in 1984 when I met a guy just out of prison who told me about a plot to spring an Alexander Sinclair out of Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight, which went badly wrong when Sinclair died. Unknown to me, Sinclair was the head of the “Mr Asia” syndicate, which, in the 1970s, flooded New Zealand with heroin. He was also known to have killed or ordered the killings of at least six people. I set out for the isle of Wight and Parkhurst prison, met with the undertaker who handled the funeral, visited the hospital where Sinclair died and then encountered some strange and disturbing characters who didn’t want any publicity about Sinclair’s death. In any event, I wrote up what I found out about the alleged attempt by Sinclair to stage a heart attack and get sprung from the hospital. It went badly wrong when the heart attack killed him. He didn’t realise that years of drug abuse had weakened his heart.

My story was published in the Sunday Mirror and Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.

I was then asked to interview a German guy in Pentonville prison, Werner Bruchhausen, at one time alleged by the US State Department to be an “Entrepreneur of War”. Werner asked if I would meet with his German attorney to get the information he needed to help his defence. I flew to Frankfurt and then on to Tripoli, but all was fruitless. The CIA wanted Bruchhausen, and he was deported to the USA in June 1986. The bizarre story of his incarceration, escape and release in America is another story for another day.

Some traumatic times in El Salvador and East Timor followed. I was then contacted by a Malaysian being held for a multi-million-dollar fraud in Hong Kong. He shared a cell with Bruchhausen and asked for help.

So began my investigative work, which initially led to corruption in Hong Kong and Malaysia, Involving two mysterious deaths, high-level political interference, a mysterious Egyptian desert meeting with a Malaysian finance chief and, strangest of all, a meeting at his Executive Mansion with the then Liberian President, Samuel Doe, not long before his execution. During the following years, apart from many visits to USA and Australia, I travelled to Nicaragua, China and Russia, experienced meeting both wonderful and wicked people and working with legal firms, media organisations and other entities.

I was always writing, chronicling some of the crazy incidents and noting the characters that crossed my path – both good and evil.

Writing was a habit and, sometimes, during fractious times, a therapy, but I never contemplated publishing anything. Assignments in Romania, East Berlin and Russia before the Berlin Wall came down produced some frightening moments as well as moments of farce, such as an East German professor who, having been investigated by the Stasi, found out that his wife’s gynaecologist was a Stasi informant!

These assignments left me with intense memories of places, e.g. Sverdlovsk in Russia, Bucharest and Timisoara in Romania and East Berlin. I am currently working on three books from those times in Communist-controlled Eastern Europe – “Dateline Bucharest”, “The Only Innocent” and “The Anthrax Cloud” – together The Crypsis Trilogy.

In 2003 I had the pleasure of meeting with a wonderful man and literary agent, David O’Leary. Over several “publishing lunches” (two hours and two bottles of wine) at Julies, a short walk from David’s apartment in Holland Park, he persuaded me to put together some of the “stuff” I had been involved in. The first work was “A Candle for Consuela”, and David was all set to get it to publishers when he was taken seriously ill and tragically died in 2007. I was still involved in a number of active cases for several outlets, so “A Candle for Consuela” got put back in a drawer. In March 2010, I got involved in investigating the biggest Fraud in Hong Kong’s history. The case went on for a few years. I then spent some more time in Hong Kong,; amongst the Hmong Tribes of Laos – searching for an American doctor’s daughter; locating a vital witness in Australia; investigating boiler rooms in Bangkok; fraud in New Zealand; investigating witnesses in Vanuatu and a catalogue of cases in China. Then a pandemic hit. Covid came along, and as with many people, life changed. Travel was pretty impossible, and I decided to be serious about my writing, and that’s where I am now.