Roy Taylor was in the middle of making his trademark puff pastry when his mobile phone rang.
As sous chef at the Oatlands Park Hotel in Weybridge, he didn’t like his evening ritual being disturbed but he had agreed he would drop everything if Scott rang.
Clive Powell was sitting in his favourite Surrey hide with two other birdwatchers when his mobile phone interrupted their reverie to the barely concealed irritation of his silent but anonymous companions. They had just spotted a pair of exceedingly rare Demoiselle Cranes; blown off their usual migratory route, from Mongolia to Pakistan, by unseasonal weather.
Christopher Morris put down his laser pointer and apologised to his class of technology students at Brooklands college for having to take the call. He was in the middle of explaining the unique design features of the original VTOL jet aircrafts.
All three were part of Scott’s prototype secret business enterprise.
“We’ve got our first assignment!” was his message to all three. “I suggest we meet to discuss at 18.00 hours tomorrow on board the company yacht. OK?”
This was a reference to Scott’s current temporary abode; a 70ft barge moored near a construction site on the Wey canal near Guildford.
He was the site engineer for Bovis Homes Southern Division whose Regional Director had come up with this solution for site security during the Covid 19 lockdown. It was also his idea to rename Scott’s job title from night watchman to give it more gravitas. Scott had decided that one ridiculous euphemism was worthy of another, hence his headquarters upgrade. Mind you, he was prone to flights of fancy as his new found partners had discovered to their amusement.
All four had met by chance at a special 60th anniversary of the “2i s Coffee Bar Survivors Club” which, somewhat bizarrely, had been held at the Bramley Golf Club in Surrey two years earlier. A real sixties rock and roll anorak had gone to some trouble through ancestry research to find as many living descendants as possible of show business acts created by the pop impresario Larry Parnes at the famous Soho venue.
Adam Faith, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Vince Eager, Duffy Power, Dickie Pride, Lance Fortune and Georgie Fame were just a few of the acts who appeared there in the late fifties and early sixties en route to pop stardom of varying longevity. But they all had one other thing in common. Their birth names were changed by Parnes as part of his management contract.
Adam Faith, for example, was born Terry Nelhams Wright, Cliff Richard was Harry Webb and Billy Fury was Ron Wycherley. Those were the days when inane talent was trumped by polaroid good looks in the search for instant three minute airwave fame via the pages of the New Musical Express or Melody Maker.
It could have been the alcohol consumed or simply lockdown induced boredom but three weeks earlier all four associates had conspired to start a new part time business. The discussion had been sparked by Scott’s obsession with his new job title and their individual family’s experiences of name changing, a phenomenon they all discovered they shared at the Bramley Golf Club reunion. They each had a grandfather or a great uncle who had been discovered by Larry Parnes.
None of them was in the slightest bit interested in rock ‘n roll music but somehow the discussion had moved off the comparative musical capabilities of their ancestors - ‘limited’ was the best assessment that any of them could come up with - into periphery areas such as touring.
“Did you know?” said Scott, through the prism of his third pint of Guinness, “That Peter Grant was a bouncer at the 2is!”
“Who the hell is or was Peter Grant?” enquired Roy Taylor, whose great grandfather was Vince Eager.
“Even I know that!” replied Christopher Morris, whose great Uncle was Lance Fortune, one of the few who had been a classically trained pianist before being taken on by Larry Parnes.
“Well!” said Clive Powell, whose grandfather was Georgie Fame, “Enlighten us all!”
“He was only the first manager of Led Zeppelin!” replied Scott & Christopher triumphantly in unison as Christopher happily filled in some more details.
“He masterminded the way Led Zeppelin were perceived. They never appeared on TV and never issued a single, only albums. Although Brits, they toured in the US as warm up for established acts but quickly blew the opposition away in performance. The only way you could see them was to buy a ticket for a concert.”
“Or smash up the hotels in which they stayed” interjected an inebriated Roy Taylor, hoping to recover some self-esteem for himself at not knowing who the hell Peter Grant was.
“Security was clearly not his main preoccupation” he added laughing, although it took three attempts to say ‘pre pre pre occupation …’
It was at this point Scott suddenly latched on to his brainwave. It was his Eureka moment.
“That’s it!” he shouted. “If Bovis want to call me a site engineer why don’t we start our very own Private Security Service?!”
He was greeted with blank stares from his three uncomprehending tipsy companions.
“Leave the detail to me! All those in favour say AYE!” he announced with boisterous enthusiasm.
The AYES had it although it is debatable as to the degree of understanding of the three participants; a bit like those who pass through the lobbies in the House of Commons.
The job was in Essex which meant a drive through the Dartford Tunnel, but it gave Scott’s entourage an opportunity to rehearse the agreed procedures so when they arrived at the venue near Saffron Walden they were able to make it look like a routine high security visit.
Christopher Morris had been voted driver for the day. His job it was to leap out on arrival and open the doors of the Conquest Vehicles Knight XV with blacked out windows to allow two bodyguards to jump out and survey the Immediate area. Only when they give the all-clear was Scott to emerge from the back of the vehicle ready to greet his client who would then accompany him into the hall and make a grand entrance. Christopher would remain in the vehicle ready for a quick getaway.
Competitors in this niche security market are rare, partly because the costs are prohibitive. A top of the range Knight XV comes in at £660,000. It is based on a Ford F550 chassis and features armour which can resist not just grenades, but full on bomb blasts. An emergency oxygen circulation system guards against chemical attack, while the optional drinks bar and cigar humidor ensures Mafia-style travel. Under the bonnet, lurks a 6.8-litre 550bhp V10 that hauls the XV’s 5.5-tonne weight.
All went according to plan.
The chairman of the local women’s institute, one Mrs K. Fowler, greeted Scott as arranged. She was escorted into the Village Hall by him, flanked by two fearsome looking body guards built like brick house doors who stationed themselves either side of the entrance hall door to the utter astonishment of the 300 members gathered for the 2021 Annual General Meeting.
Mrs Fowler spoke with confidence in a crystal clear voice.
“We come now to the vote on our change of name. It is my recommendation that we revert to our original name with immediate effect. All those in favour remain seated. All those against please stand. You have 10 seconds to decide which side you are on.”
“I declare the motion carried” announced Mrs Fowler, “The Women’s Institute, Ugley Branch, will henceforth be known as the Ugley Women’s Institute”.
Returning speedily down the M11, supping a glass of champaign each to celebrate a job well done, Christopher asked a question which had also crossed the minds of his two body guard colleagues.
“I thought I recognised Mrs Fowler. Am I right?”
Scott was happy to explain that Mrs Fowler was her married name, but she is better known as Kim Wilde although her birth name was Kim Smith. Her father started out as Reginald Leonard Smith but changed it to Reg Patterson when he was spotted by Larry Parnes who changed it again to Marty Wilde.
A grateful Women’s Institute commissioned a piece of modern architecture from one of its own members who had studied under Elizabeth Fink. It stands on a plinth outside the entrance to its Essex headquarters. It is dated 21 April 2021, the Queen’s 95th Birthday, but also the date of their historic vote. It simply says:-
“On this day we reclaimed our true identity.”
The sculptress was Ms Agatha Stil-Hicks , a great niece of Sir Thomas Hicks OBE who is probably better known by his stage name of Tommy Steele.
The very next day, Scott Walker handed in his resignation to Bovis Homes Southern Division to concentrate full time on his role as lead singer in the Walker Brothers tribute act. His birth name is as yet unknown to the wider public.
This Decamot was inspired by the following Decamot items: entourage, polaroid, pastry, Scott, laser pointer, plinth, yacht, construction site, birdwatcher, coffee bar