A Corrupting Influence Part I

Laszlo Dumitrescu returns, and he’s made some interesting and powerful friends.

In my first month I have made many friends in the business and rotary circles of Portsmouth. On my desk there is photograph of me holding leader of the council Fred Gubbins in a headlock.

Here I tell you how I become most loved and feared man in whole of Pompey.

It start at the police station. I wait to interrogate the roast beefs who steal my boat [see previous chapter]. I wait for two hours watching English criminals being treated better than old ladies are in Romania, being given plates of custard and cups of tea. While I sit in reception area watching bobbies come in and out, they give the big muscly Romanian fellow in Armani jeans a strange look. I wonder if I am in real police station or a gay nightclub.

After two hours I go up to the desk to ask when I get my chance to question the roast beefs. I ask, if I know the chief of police, I am given the keys to the cells and we are allowed to solve the crime? But the desk bobby, who is smelling like three-day-old underpants, say I not allowed into interrogation room.
I tell him once, before I met my wife, Camelia, I was making love with a prostitute. After I fall asleep the whore give me a drink of Cognac. Later I discover it contain the date rape drug Rohypnol. While I sleep she steal everything from my house. She take my television, my grandfather’s watch, she even steal my umbrella. I go to my friend who is chief of police in Bucharest. In one hour I have top crime scene investigators making DNA test of the condom. On same day police have the woman in handcuffs. I go into police cell and the woman is there, looking very sorry with lipstick all over her head. I kick her chair. I not kick her, just the chair. Although I am wanting to kick her, I am not like your English bobbies who murder innocent newspaper vendors. I tell the woman the story of my grandfather’s watch, and I say, I am a rich man, but I am also reasonable man. You have children? I ask. She cry, yes. I say, tell me where is the watch and the television and I will speak to the judge. I will say you must not go to prison.

The English desk bobby say to me, ‘Do you have an appointment with the chief constable?’ and I say I have an appointment to see him this weekend. I will return.

On Saturday at a big house near my Southsea cottage, I am at dinner party hosted by my friend from UK Trade and Investment, Sir Philip Turnbull. He has a long, pointy face with a V constantly arched over his brow. The head of Hampshire Constabulary, John Griffiths, is there also. He smells like a beautiful, expensive aquarium, and his handshake is soft and oiled. I wonder how many real criminals he catch in his lifetime. I say, I bet you I have caught more than you, you big wet fish. He laugh, because he think I am joking, but I am serious. Police in this country prefer to arrest students and hairdressers.

Sir Philip’s house is close to mine. It is overlooking the Southsea common man’s land. His dining room is decorated like the clubhouse of a Scottish golf course, he tell me with his arm over my shoulder at the entrance. He hand me glass of red wine and touch my muscly bicep and ask if I play golf. I have only played once, I tell him, I am a fast bowler.

I look round the room full of hotel owners, ventilation moguls and portable toilet rental magnates, wearing same blue suits and schoolboy ties as the chief of police, and I say, this remind me of Romania, where police work directly for the rich man. I repeat and continue the tale I told to the desk bobby this week. I say, in my house outside Bucharest, which I build for myself in gated commune for successful merchants, I had policemen sleeping in the basement and making sure I am not date raped in the night. They live with me for two years and we make many fine barbecues together. The police have cooked many fine steaks for my wife and children. Just like here, I say, because here I also eat steak with a policeman. John Griffiths laughs like a jellyfish. One day I am sleeping in our bridal suite at the top of the house, I say, when a man creep into my room and try to strangle me. While I am still nestling Camelia in my right arm I grab the intruder by the ears and throw him against the wall. His nose is removed from his face. There is blood all over my rug that has the picture of Al Pacino. I get up and discover it is one of my policemen who have come upstairs from the basement. After I threaten to feed testicles to my dog, he tell me he had been paid by Antony Wasilewski, a big import/export guy, to kill me. Camelia say to me, Laszlo, this system is no good. We will never be safe while there is somebody who is willing to pay the police more than us. We must move to England, where the police works for all the rich people, not just a few.

‘What brought you to Portsmouth, Mr Dumitrescu?’

This wheezing alcoholic with long, dirty hair in second-hand suit is the leader of the council, Mr Fred Gubbins, the socialist. I tell him that I am interested in corruption. I am a leading expert in this subject. I know how to grease a trouser more ways than one. If he like I can show him how it is done. I get up with a pile of cash in my hand and go over to make a handshake.
‘Excuse me,’ Mr Gubbins jump up, wiping grey beard with his napkin. ‘I was against Mr Turnbull’s extending this interview to you in the first place, and so please beg my pardon, I believe I have a date with some constituents at a new sushi/mini-golf joint on Castle Road.’
I say, Please listen. I put on my sunglasses like this, and we stand together, and you tell your favourite journalist from the Pompey News, I have brought special expert on corruption over from Romania. It will solve some of your problem with public relations. I know only brief but I hear you have what we call in Romania an egg on your face. All you did was send the Muslim female with no legs one email, calling her a wheelie horse bomb and saying how you will plant a camera in her hijab, by accident. I read this and I think, you have egg on your face, Gubbins. But you are lucky, because I am a man with a lot of bread. I run a public relations business. I have made many Romanian politicians look like Serpico. I can clean up your image with special techniques that I learn from my father, a man who run a company with branches in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and the Isle of Man.

I hand him my card that I get printed at a shop run by people from the Jobcentre for very competitive price. It say:

Laszlo Dumitrescu
Public relations, import/export, bodybuilding.

Fred Gubbins sit back down and apologise to me because he got the wrong stick.

Dinner talk was played like a game of cards. Turnbull would talk and then chew and then Gubbins talk about regional voting and then he chew and then Griffiths talk about sensational water canon in London and then chew and then the portable toilet magnate talk about a new kind of chemical he use to treat the sewage, and the ventilation mogul say he is doing very well with the global warming, and chew, and the hotel owner say he know, he has the ventilation in his hotel, which overlook the sea front also, and chew, and I laugh and chew the steak which is not from Florentino, but I tolerate it, and I say, I have enjoyed this discussion, I am honoured to be here with a fine man who help me to buy my visa, Sir Philip Turnbull, who has read from the same textbook as me, a book by a famous American entrepreneur, a man who make his money throwing tenants onto the streets and replacing them with law-abiding serfs who pay twice the rent, and I take a sip of red wine and say, I have good news for you, I have come to England to help improve your reputation, then Lord Andrew Quaker, who sit beside me, laugh and chew, and drink the wine, and say, I ought to be given a title.

Yes, I say, Lord Dumitrescu. The men laugh and say that is not possible. I say, how much it will cost me? Will £250,000 be enough? I get out my chequebook. The men begin to pat their hands in the air and say, ‘no, no, no,’ as though we are plotting a bank robbery and I am speaking too loudly about our plans.

‘I meant something like an Anti-Corruption Tsar,’ say Lord Andrew Quaker. ‘And besides, you cheeky fellow, it was actually nearer £150,000.’ The room explode with laughter like a cow udder being smacked with a paddle. ‘A hundred grand of that was a loan to the Tories.’

My good friend Sir Philip then tell a story about the drowning of some Chinese wetbacks which I nod along to. We make plans for me to pose in photos with the fishy Weetabix, Fred Gubbins and I make very strong handshake, which make him feel better because he is very sensitive to what other successful people think of him, in front of the golf trophies, to make sure this happen. We have drunk a lot of wine by this point. I tell my new friends I look forward to being revealed to the people of Portsmouth in an official capacity, and propose another toast: to Portsmouth! To the Manhattan of the English Riviera! The city where the worker sleep too much!

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.

Image by Sarah Cheverton.