Hard times for Cock­ney ‘tec Hazell

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - EXCLUSIVE -

HAZELL PLAYS SOLOMON, the first of three thrillers star­ring the Cock­ney de­tec­tive and writ­ten by Wil­liams and Ven­ables, was pub­lished in 1974. They ap­peared un­der the pen name P.B Yuill, but the pair couldn’t re­sist giv­ing them­selves a men­tion. Early on, Hazell pays tribute to Gor­don Gre­gory, of le­gal firm Ven­ables, Ven­ables, Wil­liams and Gre­gory, who helped him get back on his feet when he hit hard times af­ter leav­ing the Met. He con­tin­ues:

OF the dribs and drabs, I earned in my rough­est months not a lot man­aged to reach my mouth. Even af­ter I stopped boost­ing the gin trade I still found my­self bo­racic. One hand picked up the few quid I was cop­ping, the other pushed it straight at the rest­less cred­i­tors. I was only the mid­dle-man. The money and I barely had time to say hullo and good­boye. Bo­racic lint – skint. The old rhyming slang.

It sounds colour­ful but the re­al­ity was murky grey. I was a young ex-cop­per, which made me sound bent, a newly-cured gin dis­posal unit, which made me sound med­i­cal, and no­body rushes to hire an en­quiry agent (self-ap­pointed) who isn’t work­ing as an un­der­cover be­hind a Soho bar but just work­ing there, full-stop.

Tem­po­rary bar­man, tem­po­rary van driver (un­til they brought out the party bal­loon and I lost the li­cence) and tem­po­rary dance hall bouncer were just some of the ca­reers I toyed with while my head was spin­ning and my el­bow bend­ing.

Then came Gor­don.

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