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Being Johnny

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 44

This did not look good. The first thing I needed to do was let someone know that there was a problem.

"Stop waving that gun around," I said loudly.

"Ha, trying to let your friends know that I'm here with a gun?" Chris asked, laughing. "Not going to work. That police wire you are both wearing only has a range of a couple of hundred yards. We're at least half a mile from any receiver they have working."

Well, that was something. He knew about the police wire. He clearly knew something about what was going on, but how? He also did not know about the pen. I just hoped he did not find out.

Chris pointed the gun directly at me and told me to step back and stand against the wall. I did as instructed. Another man, who I presumed was Cliff's father, came up behind Cliff and grabbed him from behind. He was a big man and was able to seize Cliff with a single arm. By the sound that Cliff made, it was clear he was also able to impart some pain.

"Shut up, you little wimp," Cliff's dad said. "Thought you'd sell us out? Well, lad, you're mistaken. Your cousin Harry tried that, him and his mate Simon, but we dealt with them the same way we'll deal with you. Jock warned us what was going on. He works for the police, knows everything that goes down in the station."

"I thought Simon killed Harry. Why'd he run if he didn't?" Cliff said.

"No, Chris dealt with Harry. We made it look like Simon did it, then we disappeared Simon. Though, no doubt he's dead now."

"What do you mean 'disappeared'? You killed him?" Cliff asked.

"Oh no, boys like Simon and you are far too valuable to kill. There are a lot of men, especially in the Middle East, who will pay well for a disposable boy, one they do not have to worry about hurting when they take their pleasure."

"You won't get away with this," I stated.

"Why not?" Chris said, moving the gun to his left hand. His right hand pulled a knife out from under his jacket. I noticed he was wearing black surgical gloves. My right hand was pushed deep into my pocket. "This is Cliff's knife, has his DNA and prints all over it. The two of you argued, and Cliff stabbed you and ran. Time to go sleepy, Cliff, say goodbye to your friend."

There was a movement by Cliff's dad. He had a hypodermic syringe, the needle of which he plunged into Cliff's arm. At the same time, Chris stepped forward and jabbed me in the stomach with the knife. My right hand came out of my pockets, the open tube of powder in my hand. Chris's blow winded me, but I was able to propel the powder up into his face.

"What the fuck!" Chris exclaimed, looking down at the knife which had failed to penetrate. Then the cloud of chili powder hit him. At the same time, my foot came up and connected hard with his crotch. There was a gasp of pain. At the same time, something metallic hit the pavement of the jitty. I realised Chris had dropped the gun as he staggered back from my kick. He swung wildly at me with the knife, not being able to see clearly where I was. I stepped inside the swing, blocked the knife arm and slid my hands down Chris' right arm to trap the wrist and apply a wrist lock. Once I controlled the wrist of the knife hand, I applied pressure, yanking Chris around as I used my elbow to lock his arm and force him up onto tiptoe. Then I sank down under the arm, turning as I did so. At this point in practice, your opponent always went down on the floor, and you applied a lock to control them. Unfortunately, Chris did not seem to know that this was what he was supposed to do. He tried to regain his balance by pushing back against me. There was a strange popping, tearing sound, and Chris screamed in agony as his arm went limp. I realised it had been dislocated badly at the shoulder. Not knowing what else to do, I did a leg sweep, removing his legs from under him. Chris dropped backwards onto the hard, paved surface of the jitty. His head smashing onto the stones before the rest of his body.

Just to make sure he was out of things, I did a stomp kick to his stomach, which should put him out of action for a bit. Then I turned to where Cliff's dad was holding Cliff. He was looking in horror at me. A shape appeared behind him, and in a moment, Cliff's dad sunk to the ground, followed by Cliff, who was caught by Danny before he fell.

"Sorry, I took so long to get here," Danny said. "Looks like I missed most of the fun."

In the distance, I could hear the sounds of sirens, they seemed to be getting closer. In Danny's hand was what looked like a leather bag. Danny saw me looking at it.

"Sand-filled cosh ," Danny stated. "Better get rid of it before any questions are asked."

Domonic ran up the jitty, took one look at the scene and told Danny to get lost.

"He was not here, understood?" Domonic said, looking at me. I nodded. I understood. "You don't know what happened here, you were too busy with that bastard. It was all over here when you looked round."

"Of course, it was," I confirmed.

The two plain-clothed officers who had been with us in the hotel room came into the jitty, one of them talking rapidly on her radio. Five minutes later, the alley was filled with police.

Jack insisted that I go to the hospital to be checked out. I was sent in the same ambulance as Cliff. He was out of it but still conscious. It seemed that whatever was in that syringe was a strong tranquillizer. Fortunately, it appeared that Cliff's dad had only managed to inject about a third of it before he was stopped.

Before they got me in the ambulance, I was able to tell Jack that Chris and Cliff's dad had known all about the plan to trap them. Somebody called Jock, who worked for the police, had told them.

"Who the hell is Jock?" Jack asked nobody in particular as Cliff was loaded into the ambulance.

"Uncle Jock," Cliff mumbled.

"Yes, who is he?" Jack asked.

"Jock McLoughlan," Cliff mumbled. "He's funny. Believes in Jesus."

"Fuck!" exclaimed Jack.

"Who is he?" I asked.

"Civilian communications technician," Jack stated. He was about to say more, but the paramedics pushed him out of the ambulance and closed the doors.

At the hospital, Cliff was quickly wheeled away; he seemed half asleep. The doctors were demanding to know from me what was in the syringe. They seemed to be under the impression that we had been taking drugs together and Cliff had reacted badly. The police officer who had accompanied us in the ambulance disabused them of that and told them that we had both been victims of an attack.

That had just been cleared up when Dad, Uncle Ben and Domonic arrived, Domonic being intent on retrieving the pen and badge from my jacket. He also waited to get the stab-resistant vest from me. When I took off my shirt for examination, the doctor had expressed surprise at the fact that I was wearing such. She also commented that, from the damage to the top layer of the vest and my shirt, if the knife had gone through, it would have killed me.

"Well, there don't seem to be any signs of major injury, but you're going to have one hell of a bruise there," she said, indicating a spot at the base of my sternum. She also told me it was going to be painful — something I could have told her — then said not to take over-the-counter painkillers for it. She did not offer me a prescription for anything.

It was nearly an hour before I got out of A&E. Then we had to go to the police station. Jack wanted a full statement from me about what had happened. We were taken through to the room where we had had the briefing before. James was there, as were Jack and Domonic, though that pair were not having a friendly talk.

"What do you mean we can't have the devices that made this recording?" Jack asked.

"You and your people do not have sufficient security clearance," Domonic stated.

"But some seventeen-year-old kid does?"

"He was not examining the devices, only using them under supervision," Domonic replied. "It was an authorized field test of the technology."

"Who authorized it?" Jack asked.

"That information is classified."

"Let me get this right; I have one audio and two sets of video recordings, which you are supplying me with. However, I can't have the original storage medium or the device that was used to get the recordings. Is that right?"

"That's right," Domonic stated.

It was about then that both men noticed our presence in the room. Jack apologised like mad for things going wrong.

"Any news on Cliff?" I asked.

"Well, he's sedated. We found some empty vials of IM Lorazepam in Robert Rownton's pocket, so it's reasonable to assume that is what Robert injected the kid with," Jack told me. I had to ask what IM Lorazepam was. Apparently, it was a form of benzodiazepine that could be administered intramuscularly, hence the 'IM'. It was usually used to sedate violent patients in psychiatric wards.

That information imparted, Jack then went on to tell us what they had found out. Apparently, Jock McLoughlan was, in fact, Robert Rownton's cousin, a fact that was not known to the police. He was a civilian employee of the police and acted as a communications officer for the station. In that capacity, he was responsible for all the computers and radios.

"So, he could access anything?" Dad asked.

"In theory, no, but it seems as if he had unlimited access. From something we have found on checking his office, we suspect he may have hacked the intercom system, so he could listen in to whatever was taking place in any room in the building."

"Not good," Uncle Ben commented.

"It's not. The only good thing is, he went off duty at five this evening so does not know how things went down. Hopefully, a squad of officers should be bursting through his door about now to arrest him."

I made a formal statement about what happened. James sat in as my solicitor. Apparently, Uncle Bernard had instructed him to act for me if necessary, so he acted. He also told me that Cliff would be kept in hospital for at least two nights just to make sure there were no adverse effects from the sedative. I wondered how he knew that, then remembered he was Cliff's solicitor, as well. No doubt he had been to the hospital.

Once I had finished the statement, Jack asked if I could go back in the morning to go over the recordings they had of events. I agreed to, though I really wanted to get down to London and see Joseph. It was arranged that we would be at the station at eleven.

It was gone two in the morning before we got back to the hotel. I was glad Dad had booked me in till Saturday. Fortunately, both Dad and the uncles had booked rooms until Saturday, also. Actually, the uncles' room was booked till Sunday. Apparently, Uncle Phil still had a lot to sort out with regard to the contract with the airport and would not be returning to London till Sunday.

In the morning after we had breakfasted, packed, loaded the cars and checked out, I insisted we go to the hospital to find out how Cliff was. We could not get in to see him as it was outside visiting times but were assured he was doing well. That sorted, we went to the police station.

James Felton was waiting for us. His brother, as police superintendent, took me into an interview room with James present, to watch the two videos they had of the incident. I was surprised that they had two videos; I only knew about the camera in the pen. Apparently, Domonic also had a surveillance drone tracking me that had been sending a live feed to him. That is how they knew something had gone wrong so fast.

"What I can't work out is how they were able to track you so accurately," Jack said. I thought it best not to mention the tracking device that I had been wearing. I guessed it was something that Domonic would not like mentioned, so I did not mention it.

What was surprising is how short a time the whole incident lasted. I thought it had taken ages, but it was all over in under thirty seconds. The recordings just confirmed what I had said in my statement last night. There was nothing further to add. Jack just got me to sign a statement saying I was carrying a concealed, video-recording device on me at the time. Once that was done, I was free to go.

I mentioned to James that we had been to the hospital but had not been able to see Cliff. James said that if we were at the hospital at two, we would be able to do so. Dad said we had to get some lunch before we started home. James asked if we minded if he joined us and recommended a place close by.

Over lunch, I asked James if he knew any more about what was going on.

"Well, given you're my client, I can tell you what I know about the case. At the moment, Christopher and Robert Rownton are under guard in hospital. Robert has a concussion, Christopher a dislocated right shoulder and elbow. I am informed that both are expected to be discharged from hospital this afternoon, at which point they will be formally arrested for conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and possibly kidnapping.

"Jock McLoughlan was arrested in a police raid on his house in the early hours of this morning. During the search of the premises a quantity of weapons were found. Also, large quantities of material relating to the ADL."

"What's the ADL?" Uncle Ben asked.

"The Aryan Defence League. It's a neo-Nazi organisation currently proscribed in the UK. It's linked to both the Aryan Nation in the States and to the Church of the True Christ, which is linked to a Baptist Church in Westboro. Not sure what a Christian Church has to do with a neo-Nazi organisation."

"If you are talking about the Westboro Baptist Church, it has very little to do with Christianity. Most of the legitimate Christian denominations in the States have denounced it," Uncle Ben informed James.

"What's this Church of the True Christ?" I asked.

"Don't know. All I know is that material was found at Jock McLoughlan's place that referred to it. Jack told me it said that Jesus was not Jewish and that he was a white Aryan."

"It sounds a bit like Positive Christianity," Dad said.

"What's that?" I asked.

"It was an idea that arose during the pre-war Nazi government. Basically, it rejected all elements of Christianity that did not fit with the Nazi racial and ideological view."

"Sounds mad?" I commented.

"It was. Unfortunately, it has managed to survive the fall of Nazi Germany. There are groups preaching Positive Christianity in South and North America. They just use the parts of the Bible that they think agree with their view of things and ignore the rest."

James left us a bit before one-thirty. He did say, though, that we should get to the hospital about two if we wished to see Cliff. We got there at ten-past-two, and once we found the side ward where Cliff was located, had no problems getting in to see him. Apparently, James had informed the powers that be that we were coming.

I was surprised when I got into Cliff's room to find Patrick there. It looked as if he had been there since last night, a fact that Patrick quickly confirmed. Apparently, when they had told Patrick he had to leave, Cliff had become very upset, so they had allowed him to stay.

What I had not expected was the fact that Cliff had no memory of what had happened after we had entered the jitty. Patrick explained that this was normal; high doses of Lorazepam caused memory loss. Cliff wanted me to tell him what happened, but Patrick told me not to.

"The doctors want to see how much memory returns naturally over the next twenty-four hours, without prompting, as the drug is pushed out of the system."

I chatted with Cliff a bit, assuring him that everything was sorted out. He told me that Patrick's parents had been in to see him, that they seemed nice, and he would be living with them in the future.

"What about John?" I asked.

"He wants to go and stay with Mrs. Burridge; that's Tom's mother. She always said if there were problems, John could stay there," Cliff said.

Patrick then filled me in that Social Services were allowing the arrangement for the time being, as John was already there. They would be looking at registering Mrs. Burridge as a foster parent.

By now, it was getting on for three, and Uncle Ben kept glancing at his watch. I took the hint and said goodbye to Cliff and Patrick. I told them I hoped to see them again sometime and that I hoped everything worked out for them. With that, I left along with Uncle Ben and Dad.

We said goodbye to Dad outside the hospital; he was going back to Dunford, and I was going with Uncle Ben to London to spend the weekend, or at least what was left of it, with Joseph. I still had to celebrate passing my driving test.

Dad's departing words puzzled me a bit. He said he would see me in the morning.

I sent a text to Joseph saying I was on my way and would be there about half-past-eight to nine. It had gone three when we set off, and I reckoned it would take a good five to five-and-a-half hours to get to London, allowing for traffic at the M6/M5 junction and stopping for some refreshments. I had forgotten a couple of things. First, Uncle Ben was driving his Maserati. He seemed to have little respect for speed limits. He also did not believe in taking a break. It was a nonstop trip with the exception of when we had to fill up with petrol at the motorway services. Uncle Ben pushed a twenty-pound note into my hand, told me to go into the shop and get drinks and snacks we could consume whilst he drove. The final thing which had not entered my calculations was that he would take the M6 toll, avoiding the M6/M5 junction altogether. As a result, it was not quite seven when we pulled up outside Uncle Bernard's.

Uncle Ben gave me a hand to get my stuff from the boot of the car and up the steps to Uncle Bernard's front door. Then Uncle Ben left me, saying he had to be somewhere, and roared off in the Maserati. I pressed the doorbell. Uncle Bernard opened it.

"You're a bit earlier than expected," he told me as he helped get my luggage in. "Joseph's still out with Luuk. Don't expect them back till about nine."

"Luuk's here?"

"Yes, didn't you know? He arrived yesterday. He and Joseph went off to the British Library this morning. Don't know what they have been doing the rest of the day. Joseph phoned a couple of hours ago to say they would be home about nine. You'd better take your things up to your room. I'll be in the kitchen when you want to come down."

I went up to the room that I used whenever I stayed at Uncle Bernard's. At the Priory, Joseph slept with me in my room. Here, though, we had separate rooms. Joseph was a bit hung up that we might have sex in his parents' house, though he had no problems with us doing it in my parents' house.

Once I had sorted my luggage out, opened my laptop and logged in with Uncle Bernard's wifi to check my emails, I had a quick shower and changed, then went down to the kitchen to find Uncle Bernard. He was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping a beer.

"There's beer in the fridge. If you want one, help yourself," he instructed. I did. Though, unlike Uncle Bernard, I eschewed a glass, preferring to drink straight out of the bottle. Well, it was the way I drank beer when we had it with lunch at the yard — that is, when somebody other than Colin or I went to collect lunch. The Pig and Whistle knew our ages so would not sell us beer. When we collected, the crew had to make do with cans of cola.

"I hear you had an interesting time yesterday," Uncle Bernard stated.

"How did you find out?"

"James Felton phoned me and gave me an outline of the details."

"Isn't that a breach of client confidentiality? Isn't he my solicitor?" I asked.

"Actually, he isn't," Uncle Bernard corrected me. "I'm your solicitor. James was just acting as my agent in the north, which he does from time to time. Therefore, in keeping me informed, he is just informing his principal, totally within the rules."

"I might have known," I commented.

"You know, Johnny, I would rather appreciate it if you tried to keep out of situations where you might end up getting killed," Uncle Bernard stated. "The idea of all the work I would have to do if you did get killed depresses me. Anyway, it would upset Joseph."

"How would it cause work for you?"

"Johnny, you're a minor. As a result, you cannot make a will. Until you are old enough to make your own will and dispose of the trusts under the direction of that will, I would be stuck in sorting out which trust went where."

"Where would they go?" I asked.

"That, my boy, is complicated. The trusts from your mother would cease upon your death if you die before their maturity. As a result, they would go to your mother's closest living relatives: that is, your Uncle Phil. He is actually named as the residual beneficiary, but it would go to him even if he wasn't."

"What about the property trust?"

"That's more complex, and to be honest, I would have to look into that."

"It sounds as if I need to make a will," I stated.

"Given your wealth, I strongly recommend it. However, you can't make a will until you are eighteen. We can, though, prepare for making one before then. It might be an idea if you draft one with Martin, then we can have it ready for you to sign on your eighteenth birthday."

Uncle Bernard then wanted a detailed account of everything that happened in Blackpool. By the time I had finished telling him a couple of beers later, it was nearly nine. There was still no sign of Joseph.

There remained no sign of Joseph until just after ten, when he finally arrived home with Luuk in tow. Bernard made some mention of them being late.

"Sorry, Dad, but we met Johnny's mate, Tony, in Town and got talking. I wondered what Tony was doing in Town during term time, but then remembered Tony was doing AS-level this year, the same as me. He probably finished school as soon as the papers were over.

We sat around chatting for a bit, but by eleven, I was virtually dead on my feet. I had not had much sleep Friday night. Actually, I had no sleep Friday night and only a few hours on Saturday morning. Today had been quite an intensive day with one thing and another. The lack of sleep was finally catching up with me. I needed it.

In addition to the need for sleep, I was also a bit confused by what I had learnt about Luuk being here. Apparently, he had finished at university for the year and had come over this weekend to interview Lex Klein, whom Joseph had traced to a care home in St John's Wood. They had appointments to see him tomorrow to do the interview. Suddenly, Dad's comment about seeing me in the morning made sense. He had to come down with Lee and the equipment to film the interview.

More confusing still was the fact that once Luuk had done the interview with Lex, he was going to fly to New York, where he was going to interview Kurt. Luuk was apparently also coming with us to Australia to work on the interviews with the family of Henk's lover. After that, it turned out he would be staying at the Priory whilst he was working with Matt. Joseph would be there as well as he was also interning with Matt for the summer.

A lot had been organised whilst I had been away in Blackpool.

For some reason, no doubt exhaustion and the fact that I was a teenager, I slept till nearly eleven. Once I had showered and dressed, I went down to the kitchen to find Dad and Uncle Bernard there chatting.

"Where's Joseph?" I asked as I helped myself to some cereal.

"He's taken Lee to show him the way to get to B&Q," Dad informed me. "We realised halfway here that we had not packed any extension leads. Luuk's gone with them."

They were back about twenty minutes later, by which time I had got through two bowls of cereal and a couple of mugs of coffee. Not sure if I was quite up to being human, but at least I was functioning.

Joseph came straight into the kitchen, gave me a hug and a kiss, then apologised that he would not see much of me today. It turned out that he had only arranged for a crew of four to visit the care home to interview Lex.

"Even that was a struggle. Initially, they only wanted to allow two people in," he informed me.

The result of that was that I was going to be stuck at Uncle Bernard's whilst Joseph, Luuk, Lee and Dad were off doing the interview. I am not sure if it was the fact that I was being left out of things that upset me or the fact that I had only recently eaten two large bowls of cereal, but I really did not feel like eating much of the light lunch Uncle Bernard had arranged for us. It was salad and gala pie, a sure sign that Aunt Debora was not around.

Immediately after lunch, Dad, Lee, Luuk and Joseph went off to St John's Wood to do the interview. That left me sitting at the table with Uncle Bernard.

"You don't look happy, Johnny," Uncle Bernard stated.

"I'm not. Feel a bit left out. I was away for a week in Blackpool doing my driving test, and all these things have been arranged and I did not know anything about them."

"Just like Joseph knew nothing about what was going on in Blackpool," Uncle Bernard pointed out.

"I'm not sure I knew what was going on in Blackpool," I stated. "Still trying to get my head around this Aryan Defence League stuff. I just can't understand what they are thinking. It does not make sense."

"Tell me about it," Uncle Bernard said.

I spent the next fifteen minutes or so trying to explain what I knew about the Aryan Defence League, though I had to admit that mostly it was based on what James had told us about it, plus some stuff I had picked up from Cliff when he had been talking about Chris.

"I don't really know enough about the subject to comment," Uncle Bernard said, glancing up at the clock on the kitchen wall. "However, I do know somebody who does, and if you fancy a bit of a walk, we can probably find her sitting on a bench out on the heath. She's usually there about this time on a Sunday. Takes her dog out for a walk, which exhausts her, so she needs to take a rest about halfway. I need to take Sandy for his walk, as Joseph usually forgets."

Ten minutes later, we were walking across the heath. At first, we followed one of the main pathways across it but then turned onto one of the side paths. A short distance along the path by a stand of trees, an elderly lady was sitting on a bench, throwing a ball for a retriever style of dog to run after, pick up and return to her.

"Good afternoon, Aunt Gertrude," Uncle Bernard said as we approached the bench. The lady turned her attention from the dog and looked at us.

"Bernard Le Brun, now what brings you out here on a Sunday afternoon? Don't say you're having a constitutional walk; you've not done any exercise since you left school."

"Quite right. It was a battle between exercise and cream cakes, and the cream cakes won. Aunt Gertrude, can I introduce Jonathan Carlton-Smith, my godson. Jonathan, this is my aunt, Professor Gertrude Abrahams."

She turned her head slightly and gave me a look. "I'm actually his great aunt, the youngest sister of his grandmother, and I am a Professor Emeritus, retired from the LSE some thirty years ago."

"But you are still an external examiner for them," Uncle Bernard stated. "You still put the fear of god into those poor students who come before you in a vita."

"I should hope so," she stated. "Any student who is not terrified when faced with answering questions on their thesis probably thinks they know all about their subject, which almost certainly means they do not. The good ones are the ones who know how little they know.

"Now, Bernard, you've not been dragged here by that wife of yours walking your dog, so what's brought you here? Though, I see you've got the dog."

"Johnny's got some questions, and I think they are probably more your field of knowledge than mine, but it might help if he gives you some background to his questions and tells you about events of the last few days. Johnny?"

I started to tell the woman about meeting Cliff and what had happened. I was not more than a couple of minutes into the telling when Gertrude stopped me.

"This clearly is a long story, and this bench is not that comfortable. How about we move back to my apartment? You can tell me more as we are walking, and then I can try to answer your questions over a pot of tea and some cakes. I might even have the odd cream cake for you, Bernard."

She called the dog, who came up to her. Gertrude attached a lead to the collar, then stood with the aid of a cane and started to walk along the path. Uncle Bernard and I fell into place on each side of her. Sandy kept running off on the extending lead, and Uncle Bernard had to pull him back. As we walked, I told her more about the events of the last week. Ten minutes later, we were in a nice, ground-floor apartment of one of the houses overlooking the heath. Gertrude showed us into a book-lined room and told us to take a seat. She left us there with the dog, who I had learnt was called Samba. She suggested Uncle Bernard should put Sandy in the yard. Five minutes later, she returned with a trolley loaded with cups, saucers, plates, milk, sugar and a teapot. There was also a cake stand with cakes, including some cream cakes for Uncle Bernard.

"Well, Johnny," Gertrude stated as she poured the tea and handed out plates for the cake, "as interesting as your story is, I am sure that is not why Bernard brought you to talk to me. What is it you want to know?"

"It's hard to put it into a question," I stated. "The thing is, I just do not understand the thinking of this Aryan Defence League. They seem to be totally contradictory. They oppose homosexuality, but their members seem quite happy to be sodomising boys and selling them off into prostitution. It does not make sense."

"From your point of view, it does not," Gertrude stated. "However, from their perspective it does."

"I'm not sure I understand."

"Few do. I will try to explain as best I can. Though to modern, post-Hitler thinking, a lot of it does not make sense."

"What do you mean, 'post-Hitler'?" I asked.

"Ah, a good question. You really need to listen to Alec Ryrie from Durham University to understand that fully. Basically, though, Professor Ryrie maintains that one of the impacts of Hitler was to radically change Western thinking. It moved it from a morality based on religion to a humanistic morality. Prior to the Second World War, Western morality was, in the main, based on the moral teachings derived from Christianity and the Christian perspective. However, Hitler's atrocities during that war brought about a concept of fundamental human rights, and a view of morality arose that was based on those fundamental human rights.

"This new morality had a profound impact on the way most of Western Civilisation thinks about things. For a start, look at the death penalty. In Christian morality, the objection to killing was based on the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill'. As that commandment was a law from God, it was subject to consistency with the other laws given by God. So, the principle of lex talonis, an eye for an eye, as stated in the Bible was seen also to apply, and was the basis for the death penalty for murder. However, if you take the first of the fundamental human rights, the right to life, there is no get-out clause. Everybody has a right to life, even the murderer. Therefore, the death penalty has been seen as unacceptable. It has been abolished in most Western countries as being incompatible with the most fundamental of human rights.

"The thing that made the difference is that the concept of human rights exists at an individual level. You have the right to life, you have the right to freedom of expression, you have the right to whatever fundamental right you claim. It is your right, not a privilege granted to you by the society in which you live. The far right, to be honest, most of the right, not just the far right, do not see things this way. They believe in the group, that the group has the right to order the lives of its members in a way that is best for that group. You have the right to live whilst your life benefits the group. The moment your life does not benefit the group, you have no right to live."

"That's a terrible idea," I stated.

"Yes, it is, from our perspective, but for the right wing it makes perfect sense. The individual is not important; it is the state, the society, the association, the order, whatever the group is that is important. If you do not serve it, you are not fit to be part of it.

"They define everything in terms of the group and their membership in it. For them, the group is everything. The fact that they are members of the group, signifies their importance. They see everything in terms of us and them, those who are part of our group, who are with us, and them, those outside the group, who are by definition against us. Because they are outside the group, they cannot be good enough to be in the group, so they must be worse than us. If they are worse than us, they do not deserve the rights we have, so they have no rights. They are subservient to us, and we can use them as we wish."

"I can see how neo-Nazi groups can use that ideology, but how can Christians?" I asked.

"Ah, you can blame Calvin for that," Gertrude stated. "His doctrine of predestination gives rise to the concept that there are a special group who are predestined to be saved and everybody else is damned. Strangely, they always seem to presume that those who are members of their church are the saved and everybody else is damned.

"If they are damned, then they have no rights. You can use them anyway you wish. That is the way they think of it."

"But how does that let them justify sodomising boys?" I asked.

"Well, there is nothing in the Bible to ban it, according to their interpretation of things. Leviticus says you shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It clearly says man, so lying with a boy in that way is not forbidden. From their perspective it must be OK, as they are the saved, so they cannot be doing anything that is wrong."

"I can see how the fundamentalist Christians could twist their teaching that way, but what of the neo-Nazis?" I asked.

"In many ways, their argument appears to be different, but it is, in some ways, basically the same. To be part of their group, you must be a true man. They have an understanding of manhood which is extremely macho. If you are not a man, you are not part of the group and therefore may be used in any way that those in the group desire. They define homosexual activity in terms of men receiving anal penetration. Therefore, in their terms, so long as they are not being penetrated and not engaging in sex with men, they are not engaged in homosexuality. As long as the boys are allowing themselves to be used sexually, they are clearly not men, so there is no problem. If they are men, then they are homosexuals, so cannot be part of the chosen group.

"The logic is twisted, but it is there."

"I'm not sure I fully understand it," I commented.

"My dear boy, if you could understand it, I would suggest that you either need to see a psychiatrist or become a messiah. Though on balance, I would recommend against the last course of action. Messiahs tend to have a limited life expectancy."

"I still do not see how they can justify being involved in selling boys as sex slaves," I said.

"That's easy. Anything that benefits the group is permissible even if it breaks the rules of the group. Now, in the case of your friend Cliff, he had clearly shown that he was not going to become part of the group; therefore, he was an outsider. As such, the rules of the group did not apply; he did not have any right to protection from the group. The fact that his father and uncle had used him for their sexual purposes clearly shows that he had a use, so it would benefit the group by selling him. From their perspective, it makes perfect sense.

"The members of right wing often charge left wingers in being involved with paedophilia and child prostitution. The fact is, in the majority of cases when paedophile rings are broken up, those involved are nearly always members of right-wings groups or religions. That is not to say that there are no left-wing paedophiles, I am sure there are. However, they would tend to have a very different attitude. They are unlikely to be involved in pushing children into child prostitution as it would breach the fundamental principles they hold.

"Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that a left winger would not participate in using a child prostitute. In that, they are no better than the right winger. Where the difference is that a left winger would never force a child into prostitution, that's not to say that they might entice them into it.. It would have to be the child's own choice to go into it. If they did, the left winger would have no objection to using them if they were that way inclined.

"The whole thing comes down to a question of self-identification. For the right-winger, there is no individual, there is only the group. Their very being is defined by their being members of the group and their role in it. Without the group they are nothing. For the left winger, the individual is everything, they define themselves in terms of what they are and what they have done. Remove the right winger from their group and they are nothing; remove the left winger from their group and they are still who they are. Indeed, they may well become even more individual. The right-winger seeks conformity with the group; the left-winger seeks to be themselves."

With that, Gertrude fell silent, put out her hand and felt the tea pot. She stood, took hold of the tea pot and proceeded to exit the room.

"I'll make a fresh pot," she stated as she left.

"Learn anything?" Uncle Bernard asked.

"I'm not sure," I replied. "It was interesting, though."

"Thought it would be."

We stayed about another hour with Gertrude, talking about all sorts of things. She was an interesting woman with some interesting, if somewhat unconventional, views. What she had to say about Gordon Brown was not worth repeating, though, I did find myself agreeing with a lot of it.

Eventually, Uncle Bernard pointed out that we had to get back. He collected Sandy from the yard. As we exited onto the road outside Gertrude's flat, Uncle Bernard spotted a Black Cab coming up the hill with its light on. He hailed it. I don't think the cabby was very happy getting a fare which was for only a few hundred yards, especially given we had a dog with us.

Once back, Uncle Bernard asked me to help sort out dinner. Basically, that meant him phoning an order through to a local takeaway and me going to collect it. One thing I have to admit: Uncle Bernard got the timing absolutely right. When I got back from the takeaway, Dad, Lee, Joseph and Luuk were back.

Over dinner, everybody except Uncle Bernard and I were talking about the interview with Lex. I felt rather left out of things, then realised that this was partly what Professor Mayer had been on about. Was your identity tied into the group or was it your own? Mine was my own.

After dinner, Dad had something he needed to sort out with Uncle Bernard, so they went off to Uncle Bernard's study for a bit. Lee and Luuk were busy sorting out something to do with the filming, which gave me a bit of time with Joseph.

"Haven't seen much of you this weekend," I commented.

"Well, it was your fault for being so late getting here yesterday," Joseph replied.

I did not want to get into an argument about that, so changed the subject and asked how his exams had gone.

"Alright, I think. Changing exam boards was a bit of a problem, but I think I caught up on most of the syllabus. Just got one more exam to do; that's on Thursday."

That said, there did not seem much else to talk about. Fortunately, Dad's business with Uncle Bernard did not take that long, and he was soon out of the meeting and suggesting that we got a move on. Lee went to get the car and bring it around the front, then we piled in and started back to the Priory. I decided to give Patrick a call and see how Cliff was. It turned out that Cliff had been discharged from hospital and was now at Patrick's parents' house. Patrick passed the phone over to him, so we could have a chat.

It was a bit embarrassing, as Cliff kept apologising to me for how things turned out. I had to point out that it was not his fault. I am not sure I convinced him of that. One thing, though, he assured me he was fine and there were no long-term effects from the drug that had been administered. It seemed he had recovered most of his memory about events.

There was some good news: he would be playing the part of Trevor's younger brother in Fly Boys. Apparently, as Cliff's father had signed the consent form before the incident, it was a legal consent. James Felton had apparently sorted that out. Patrick's parents, now Cliff's foster parents, had signed the contract with Uncle Phil this lunchtime, having first cleared it with Social Services.

"There's one thing. I don't have to worry about a student loan now. The base fee will cover everything. Then I will get a cut of the ticket sales. Matthew says that will probably support me through doing my residency."

"Well, Cliff, something is working out for you. How's your brother?" I asked.

"Oh, John's fine. He's staying with Tom. Tom's parents are going to foster him. They're nice people."

Cliff wanted to give me his new phone number, but I told him to get my number off Patrick and text me, I would get his number easier that way. About two minutes after we had finished the call, the phone beeped and I had a text from Cliff with his new number.

Dad, who guessed I was speaking to Cliff, asked how he was, so I told him what I knew.

"Sounds as if he has landed on his feet," Dad stated.

"I just hope it works out for him," I replied.

I was a bit surprised when we got to the Priory that Lee turned left off the main drive and pulled up outside the front door. I don't think I had used the front door since before last Christmas when I got a right telling off from Mum for running through the house in my dirty boots. We never used the front door; to be honest, it was just inconvenient as we normally drove directly into the yard.

Dad got out of the car, telling me to leave the luggage; we would deal with that later. Once I was out of the car, Lee backed the car onto the main drive and drove off around the side of the house, no doubt to the yard. I followed Dad in through the front door. When we got to the kitchen, I found Grandma and Granddad there. Apparently, they had arrived on Wednesday, having completed the sale of their house in Stoke.

"Well, lad, aren't you going to go and have a look?" Granddad asked.

"Have a look at what?" I asked.

"Your surprise, of course. Go and open the back door."

So, I went and opened the back door.

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