Tuesday, 24 June 2014

CHAPTER 30



I wish the Junta de Andalusia would make up their minds, did thy love me or hate me? I get a present of an 80,000 Euro convertible Mercedes at time we were going broke! I'm told the dream was all over!!!



2006 had ended with yet another hugely successful Cudeca radio telethon banking over 50,000 Euros and considering the deepening recession in Spain I was well pleased.
Robert, my Ukrainian backer, was seen less and less around the Majestic headquarters but when I did see him for some unknown reason he kept on and on about the car I was driving as if it was a matter of life and death. My car after all was a lovely metallic blue Mercedes E320 which I bought from new to celebrate the launch of my H! Magazine, so I just couldn't see what was so important about a car when other financial matters were much more pressing. The idea of buying a new car at the time just wasn't an option.

One day I was leaving the office when I bumped into Robert: “Are you still driving that heap of junk?” He asked

Yep Robert and I like it!”

Well, you are my partner and I want my partner to drive a decent car so go buy one!

I didn’t take much notice until a few days later when I was having dinner with him. “Have you found a car yet?” He asked,

I had in fact seen a stunning fully loaded convertible CLK 350 Mercedes in the window of a car showroom which close by the radio station but when I inquired how much it was it turned out to be over 78,000 Euros. Hoping to stop Robert questioning me every time he saw me about my car I told him the price thinking that would be that, so I thought.

The next morning Roberts PA called and said that Robert had instructed her to call to find out what garage I had seen the car so she could call them to find out who to make the bankers draft out to. I couldn’t believe that Robert was actually going ahead and buying me this car. Within a few hour she called and asked me to come to Roberts office where she had a bankers draft ready for 78,000 Euros in the name of the garage where she said the Mercedes was now waiting for me to pick it up!!!!
I nonchalantly stuffed the huge cheque into my pocket and walked back to the studio. Once inside the confounds of my office I shut the door and removed the cheque from my pocket, put it on the boardroom table and just kept looking at it. This was ridicules I thought, warning signs were everywhere that Majestic was in deep financial trouble but yet here I was with a cheque that’s quadruple most of my presenters annual salaries to buy a frigging car! Eventually I stuffed the cheque back in my pocket and left to go home.

That night I kept waking up, getting out of bed and taking the cheque out of my pocket to look at it. I remembering thinking ‘this was all wrong’ this amount of money should be going into the radio bank account as a reserve just in case my worst fears are realised but again the only place this cheque could go was to the bearer and that was On Wheels Cars San Pedro. You would think that anyone getting a present of a brand new luxury sports car that most people only dream about would be over the moon but as I said I was feeling very on easy about this whole episode.

The next day I had a coffee with Theiry, Roberts Swiss accountant, and voiced my fears, yet again, to him about Majestic's financial future and the rumors that were being spread around Marbella. He told me, yet again, that I had nothing to fear and that I should go and buy the car or Robert would not be happy and who knows where that might lead. With that in mind I finished my coffee and set off for the car showroom with ‘That’ cheque burning a hole in my pocket.

The showroom was about a ten minute walk from the radio station. When I got there I simply walked into the office and said “ I’ll take that car” pointing at the gleaming convertible Mercedes in the window and handed the cheque for 78,000 Euros over. It all felt so surreal, meaning that, I had always bought a car on finance NEVER cash and certainly not for the price of a small apartment. The owner, a Belgium, also called Robert took the cheque opened his drawer dropped it in and told me I could pick the car up in a day or two after he has it registered. To tell you the truth although it was a beautiful car I would have been a lot happier without it at that time!

I was invited to Ireland to take part in an RTE (Ireland national television station) documentary titles Sex and Sensibility. The program was an investigation into Ireland's changing attitude towards sex. The pre-publicity read: Despite our renowned ability to procreate, sex was once a taboo topic in this country. For the early part of the 20th century Ireland was the land that sex forgot. But in the 1960s loins began to stir, films grew naughty, music became raunchy and as a result Irish knickers got in a twist.
Sex and Sensibility looks at the lighter side of events that caused uproar in their day: condoms, sex scenes on screen, The Lovers Guide, lesbian nuns and men in drag, Ann Summers, Maurice Boland’s Elizabeths, Barbraellas, Sachs Hotel and much more.
A wide array of well-known commentators add their own personal anecdotes and humour to this tale of a nation hearing about sex for the first time, fumbling in the dark, and finally, getting to try it out for themselves!


Up until I opened Ireland's first discotheque, young Irish men and women spent their night time entertainment in brightly lit ballrooms dancing to the music provided by Ireland's hugely popular showbands such as Dicky Rock and The Miami, Butch Moor and the Capital and Eileen Reid and the Cadets and even Big Tom and the Mainliners (not sure what the name of that showband was referring to then) Mostly their would be the parish priest on duty to keep an eye on things (I suppose on reflection today, keeping an eye on 'things' meant something a whole lot different to many of those men in white dog collars|||)
By the early 60's showbands and ballrooms started to lose their popularity and beat clubs started to open all over the city where Ireland's answer to the Beatles and Stones played in clubs modeled on The Cavern in Liverpool and Tiles in London.
In 1969 I opened Elizabeths Discotheque which was generally recognised as Ireland's first real night club. The church, still smarting from the beat club era, now believed that Elizabeths was simply a den of iniquity where Dublin's young fashionable set danced provocatively in darken cellars until the wee small hours (the club was in a basement of a Georgian house in one of Dublin’s upmarket areas) on top on that the church knew they would never be welcomed into my club simply to keep an eye on 'things,' it was bad enough trying to keep the Garda out !!! So, you see, in their eyes I was to blame for the changing attitude towards sex in Ireland, something I suppose I might be remembered by in Irish history!!! Better to be remembered for something than not be remembered at all, on the other hand......


This wasn’t my only trip to Ireland that year, the second was for the marriage of our youngest son Daniel to the stunning Joanne Ringwood. It was a super wedding held in the Radisson Stillorgan but it all started off with a bit of a disaster; Daniel had already gone ahead to Dublin when the rest of the family checked in at Malaga, which included myself and Wendy, Justin, Ani baby Alekz and Nick.
As we were checking in Wendy remembered the bridesmaid’s dresses which were still hanging in the spare room at home, disaster!!!! Luckly she remembered her friend was flying out the next day to join us in Dublin for the wedding , called her and thankfully she agreed to pick up the dresses and take them over , then we called our housekeeper Elaina to get the dresses ready as they would be collect within a few hours. AT least that was Sorted!. That wasn’t to be the only mishap that day.
Being the parents of the groom one of our responsibilities was to host a dinner on the Friday night (the same night we were flying into Dublin) for the overseas guests and family. So it was imperative that our flight wasn’t delayed, timing was everything as the only flight we could get for that day was via Gatwick to Dublin and to make the connecting flight only allowed us an hour and a half to disembark the incoming flight from Malaga, get our luggage and check in for the Ryan Air flight to Dublin. Thankfully we landed exactly on time, as we were taxing up to the gate the captain announced that there would be a short delay as we had to wait for an empty pod for the plane to park!! We sat on that plane for approx half and hour before we eventually parked up.
We had already planned that Justin would run ahead with our tickets and passports to the Ryan Air check-in desk to explain what had happened. The rest of us waited for the luggage at the arrivals hall. It felt like an age before they arrived, we grabbed every thing and literately ran the 15 minute to the Ryan Air desk. With just under 30 minutes to go and all of us collapsing and gasping for breath but happy we made it.
The girl behind the desk explained that the flight had just closed and she couldn’t check us in, nor could she have accepted our tickets from Justin without actually having eye contact with the passengers. !!! No matter how much we argued and begged the answer was always the same; "Sorry, impossible as rules are rules!" She reminded me of Little Britain when the woman kept saying 'The computer says NO!
I felt like slapping her but with no time to lose I high tailed it over to the Ryan Air ticket booking desk to see if their was another flight to Dublin, I explained the urgency of the situation that there was 40 of my guests, eating MY food, drinking MY drink in Findlaters restaurant in Leopardstown and I was the host (as if she cared). Please I begged I need 6 tickets to Dublin on the next flight. Luckily there was a flight leaving in two hours and she had room for us but insisted I paid the full scheduled price with no discount, this really annoyed me as passengers who were on standby for our original flight were given our seats at full price so in short Ryan Air had sold me 6 tickets for the price of 12! No time to argue I reluctantly handed her my credit card and made my way back to the Ryan Air desk slamming down the six new tickets. Maybe it was my imagination but the smirk on that check in girls face said she was delighted to see us suffer and buy 6 more tickets at full price.
Luckily we made it as the guests were about to sit down for dinner. What an expensive day that was!!!! But what a great wedding followed.

Back in Spain and still smarting from the Junta’s dismissal of my broadcasting licence application which was made the more ridicules as the Junta were not only advertising on REM but I was hosting live shows from their headquarters in Marbella!!! It was whilst having lunch with the director I came up with the idea of holding the Costa Del Sol Business Awards. He loved this idea and within weeks we were hitting the press and radio advertising. The response was instant and within 8 weeks the award ceremony was held at Marbella’s El Fuerte hotel, which I was asked to host.
There was a huge turnout of the who’s who of Marbella’s businesses fraternity. Awards were handed of for various businesses that had achieved outstanding successes during the year ; best business directory website, best small business, innovative ideas in new business etc.
Just after I handed out the final award and about to thank everyone the director stood up and said: "Maurice there is just one more award." Odd I thought as I was sure I had completed my list of awards and hadn't left anyone. I was left speechless, which doesn’t often happen, when he stood forward and awarded me a prize in recognition for my work in promoting Marbella over the years and the various charities I had supported. All this was very weird I remember thinking as only a few months ago the Junta were threatening to close my radio station down. C'est la vie !

As 2007 was drawing to an end and yet another phenomenal Cudeca telethon success in the bag , banking a record breaking 72,000 Euro. Incidentally this figure was a record amount raised by an English radio station then, a record that still stands to today, 2014!!
Behind the scenes at REM FM things were going from bad to worse; firstly Thierry , Majestic's head of finance, had quit, secondly, Robert seemed to have disappeared and wages were slow in being paid. I tried to keep everyone spirits up by keeping most of my worries to myself.
The truth being I hadn’t drawn a wage in over a year and I like most people I had a mortgage to pay, electrical bills to meet and household expenses and no income coming in. I was worried, very worried.

One day whilst I was on air , Vanessa, are receptionist, came into the studio with a registered letter for me to sign for. At first I thought it was a much needed cheque from one of our advertisers. I was keen for Vanessa to open it whilst I took a musical break. The letter was from the Hacienda demanding 150,000 Euros for outstanding social security payments!!!! I couldn't believe what I was reading, I felt I was going to throw up. I just couldn't understand it, surely it was a mistake? After all REM's invoices etc had always been paid by the Majestic accounts offices in the past!
I asked one of my presenters to take over the rest of my show and went to look for Frank. He came immediately around to meet me at the restaurant opposite the station. Without beating about the bush and leaving aside the niceties, I got straight to the point by telling him it was time to be honest with me, that I have had enough of the lies and rumors about Majestic! I demanded to know exactly what was going on and how serious was the financial situation?
After, what felt like an age, he looked me straight in the eye and delivered the words I was dreading to hear. "I'm so sorry Maurice, It's all over, were broke" I felt tears welling up as I slowly stood up and walked out of the restaurant without saying a word to Frank.

To be continued......

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