Hard times for Cockney ‘tec Hazell
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.