Friday 25 March 2011

Memories and not good ones...

Last week, I was reminded of an event from my past.
Approximately 2001, I was a regional representative for the national children's charity, Whizz-Kidz, and had registered some friends to run the London marathon.
To encourage one of my friends teenage sons to help with the fundraising I decided to suggest that if he helped us, he could join the group going to London for the marathon. Conor was 17, and the prospect of a weekend in London without his parents was too much a prize to ignore. His fundraising efforts were greatly appreciated and off we all went to London.
We were staying in the dump of a hotel called The Regent's Palace, near Picadilly, where en-suite bathrooms did not exist.
After we all met up, Conor and another friend of our group Clifford, met up with a friend of mine at a race track and we took part in a raceday. I should have known the gods were against us as the mini-cab we flagged down had no ignition system and broke down before we reached the racetrack.
Later that day we ended up in Soho. My advice to Conor, 17 and Clifford, 35, was that we would not be going to a strip club as they only entrapped you then demanded massive sums. They agreed and we left it at that.
Within 5 minutes we were sitting in a stripclub on Gt Windmill Street.
At first, I refused to go in and urged the others to come back, they refused and the hostess mocked me by saying "let your friends have some fun, if your too boring go home and she kept repeating that a strip dance was only £5 each", so i relented, we paid and went inside the building. It resembled a terraced house, we had to descend 2 or 3 flights of stairs to a dark basement room. I remember thinking, our screams wont be heard from outside.
I have to admit I was still convinced this was a con, and quickly told the hostess we would not be requiring any drinks. She replied "thats fine, you dont need to buy any drinks". I kept wondering what the catch was...a few moments later an older woman arrived and asked if we were happy for the fully clothed "Tina" to remain our hostess whilst the dancers were getting ready. Conor, eagerly said yes...he was in heaven. The older woman gave me a menu and said it contained police advice and also their price list but we didnt have to buy anything...I was scanning it when I notied the line "hostess service incur a fee....£430".
I quickly told Conor to "shut the fuck up" and asked Tina if we were paying for her, she said "yes" and reminded me that we had agreed and it was all on camera. No longer than 10 seconds later the older woman returned with an invoice for £430 less our £15 entry fee. She told me to pay the bill and leave. I refused...when we were arguing about it, I managed to slip my remaining money into my back pocket and keep £20 as a bartering tool. I told the older woman that I was a Police Officer, but then she came back with a demand to see my Warrant card. Shit! I was bluffing told her it was in the hotel safe.
I phoned the police, and to the surprise of all parties present, told the 999 operator our exact address and location. They were used to dealing with tourists who were drunk or lost. The older woman told me to turn off the phone, I refused and told the police I was being held against my will, refusing to pay a disputed bill is a Civil Courts matter, as opposed to running off and not paying which would be a Criminal Courts matter. The woman then said "make sure you tell them (the 999 operator) about impersonating a Police Officer" BITCH!
After my phone call, I offered to pay £20 as it was all my cash...remember i told Conor to keep quiet, by this stage he was convinced his job prospects were being ruined by the police coming blurted out "Alan, all i have left is £80"...stupid wee twit...the older woman goes, you give me £20 and you give me £80 and you can leave...I swear I wanted to punch him...
The main thing worrying Conor was the fact that the older woman, during the negotiation stage, was interrupted by this huge black man, who she called a "security" officer and advised that if she had to call the security officer in to discuss non-payment then the invoice amount would increase by £115 for every officer required. I assumed this was code for kicking you face in, Clifford and I had already decided we were going to go down fighting if it came to it.
After we paid, £100, we left like scalded cats, and a short time later the police started calling my mobile and eventually we met with them to discuss. They were completely useless and when I stopped another man from going into the club to endure the same experience was threatened with arrest for breach of the peace.
Was my last time in a london strip club...not my last time in Soho though :p


DeirdreR said...

Next time stick to spearmint rhino...

Stephen Blacker said...

This is really a nightmare story, thankfully you knew a bit about the law and near enough got away with it even if it did cost £100. No doubt people get caught out like this all the time but bcause of where they are would be reluctant to say anything about it. With the police being so unhelpful it make you wonder if they get slipped a few quid especially after you nearly got done for a breach of the peace? Thanks for sharing this story maybe it will help someone else from falling into this trap.