Like everybody on arrival, Gary was frisked and had his bags searched for drugs, alcohol, mobile phones, sweets and banned literature. His excessively cocky attitude also got him a strip search from the crocodile-skinned Australian nurse whose powers of perception normally outgun a spy satellite. She found nothing, not even his mobile phone which he promptly began to use behind the bike sheds. Gary was clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Over the next two days he told me that he was a major drug dealer supplying one of London's premier nightclubs. He explained how two rival dealers broke into his house with shotguns, chased him past his wife and child and just missed shooting him as he dived through a back window.
The two gunmen were later apprehended by the nightclub owner who invited Gary to watch them being tortured with blow torches in a sound- proofed garage before having them "disappeared".
Gary took to me and, in a limited way, I to him. As a sometime crime reporter, I'm always on the lookout to expand my underworld address book.
Needless to say, Gary's attitude to group therapy was slack. He was openly contemptuous of all of us, the counsellors included, and only made a small exception for me as a "fellow in crime". So what on earth was he doing here? On Friday, he suggested that he and I head across the field behind the clinic at 2am to pick up some "very good cocaine" which a friend of his was specially transporting up here.
"What's the point of taking drugs in a rehab clinic?" I queried. "It's costing you two grand a week without the drugs." I've always been a bit sniffy of people who go to places like Champneys and then sneak out to the local hostelry for lobster Americaine and Bollinger.
"I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon anyway," he winked, "so what does it matter?" So I left him to it.
The following day, he was sniffing a lot and his cockiness had become unbearable. I asked him why he had come here, why he was leaving and what he was going to do. He looked at his watch. "I would have been in court in half an hour," he said. "Coming here got me a sick note. The trial will be delayed for months now and I'll have time to sort things out." By which he meant lean on witnesses. Ten minutes later, he ordered a taxi and left without a word to anybody.Reuse content