Schooled In Porn – Part 2

imagesFletchers and Birrells. These two newsagents were my local haunts, not only for buying newspapers and sweeties, but for other odds and ends, like greeting cards, and often stamps for the occasional letter. One was 5 minutes walk from my home, the other ten. And remember, we walked everywhere. In the UK, most people flock to newsagents for cigarettes and newspapers, along with candies, ice cream, something that doesn’t happen here in the US.  I am often asked by you American’s to explain what a newsagent is, and it’s nothing that can be explained. It has to be experienced. 7/11 is not a newsagent per say. Newsagents are a breed of their own, and when I grew up, the influx of immigrants into the UK had just begun, with people from India and Pakistan specifically migrating towards ownership of these types of shops. They, at the time, were prepared to put in the long hours required to run such establishments, and arriving with cash, they were able to buy their way in fairly easily, only because the old school who’d run them for many years, were looking for a way out and retirement. SOLD! Was a sign that appeared regularly outside most of there types of stores located near my home. And before we knew it, a new influx of ownership had spread right across the city of Glasgow. Newsagents were now the sole property of those from foreign lands. This transition of ‘power’ happened between 1968 and 1975, and Mr. Jones, who was my local newsagent, became Mr. Patel, or Mr. Singh, basically overnight.

To have a paper round in Glasgow, was a prized job for any kid who owned a bike and wanted to make some cash. My parents would never allow me to wander the streets posting newspapers through residential mail boxes,(in the UK, the mail box is a hole in the front door and not a separate entity on the street), but my friend Steve had no problem at all with his mother and father, and so it was with Steve, that my new life began.

“Do me a favor” I asked him, the very next day after receiving my 3 lashes from Mr. Knob. “Can you get me some mags?”

Steve knew exactly what I meant by ‘mags’, as only two months prior to this request he’d supplied me with the UK’s second largest selling porno mag, Mayfair, just so I could have a wee look. I recall hastily glancing at all the ‘babes’ inside that edition, and then placing it underneath my mattress in the hope my mum would never see it. I don’t know if this worked or it didn’t but it always seemed to be in the correct spot whenever I took a look. Steve, being a paper boy, had access to anything he wanted inside the newsagents. No one ever complained if he took one or two ‘perks’ from his job, as long as the papers were delivered on time, Mr. Patel or Mr. Singh or whoever it was who owned his store, turned a blind eye to Steve’s needs. His needs had now become my necessity as my new plan was hatched on how to become a millionaire, and how to do it fast.

“No problem, what do you want?” he asked me.

“Try to get me 4 or 5 different one’s”

“You’re joking, aren’t you? I’ll get kicked out if I do that”

“Tell him you’ll pay for them” And with these words, I passed Steve a ten pound note.

“Where did you get that?” he asked.

“Borrowed it. Now just get the mags, I have a great idea”

I told Steve that what we would do was rent the magazines out on a nightly basis. You see we were all kids, and the legal age to buy these beauties was 18. No one could get them, but everyone wanted them. There were one or two morons at school who had managed the occasional ‘theft’ of a magazine from their local shop, but at our school, the average age was 15 and no one had a chance of obtaining such gold-dust. I explained to Steve that if we could get a continual supply of these mags, and run a library, renting them out and then circulating them around the school, where we had about 1000 candidates or ‘customers’ as they would now be referred to, we would make a killing. Steve saw the potential, but didn’t quite get the mechanics. I explained some more. In the end, he agreed.

The magnificent part of all of this, was that we had a smoke screen to our real plan of action. I shall digress.

My father went to Hong Kong in 1968. Took him three days to get there, and about three weeks to come back. He was the first person to import a plastic shopping bag into the UK. He then became sidetracked into electronics. He imported the first electronic calculator and 8 track car stereo units into Scotland, and with all this innovation came notoriety. I was the first person, ever, to use a calculator in a Scottish examination called an O Level. I had to get permission to do so. I was 14. Permission was granted and as soon as I showed up at school with this new contraption, everyone wanted one. And so, my sales career commenced. It wasn’t planed, it wasn’t orchestrated, it just happened. Thus my philosophy, ‘Life is 90% luck and 10% common sense” came to fruition, because that’s what life really was and I’d figured it out at a very young age indeed. Right place, right time, and the kids had money and ambition to be trendy, hip and ahead of the curve. I sold dozens of calculators, and then 8 tracks. I had a deal with each kid which went something along the lines of,”this costs you 40 pounds, so sell it to your parents for 60 and make a profit.” The all bought into it, after all, what 14 or 15-year-old doesn’t want to make money? It sure beat washing cars or delivering papers door to door on cold wet mornings. Everyone’s parents had a car, and 8 track stereo units were selling for double that in the stores. My father did a deal with me, I did a deal with them and so the pyramid was born.

Selling porn would be just as easy. My library theory would be put to the test over that following week. Steve, reluctantly bought the magazines, all 5 pieces I recall and I went to work. First port of call, the school bullies. Buzz and Shugs, two notorious gents from the ‘poorer’ part of town. Both synonymous for kicking you in the balls and asking questions later. I hated both of them, but had managed for the most part to steer clear of them for the two years I’d been at this particular school. Approaching them one morning, while in recess, I told them my plan, and although they were both too stupid to realize what was going on, the temptation of monitory recompense for throwing their reputation around if need be, was too much to ignore. They called me Jew boy, and I called them stupid fucks. We made peace and they became my muscle. Next on the list was the system and cost. I would be paying 2 pounds for each magazine and decided that if I could get 300 people on board, at 50 pence per night, I would really profit nicely. My first ‘client’ was Gary, who automatically and instantly subscribed. I started a list, and word of mouth soon increased that list to 15 and then 25 and then 60. Everyone knew what was going on, and everyone kept quiet. I even had the girls subscribing. Their hormones and curiosity, overcoming their desire to save 50 pence. Within 3 months, I was up to 240 subscribers and Steve had provided well in excess of 400 magazines. This didn’t happen overnight of course and even though Mr. Patel, or Mr. Singh, (I honestly can’t recall his name) was overly curious as to what was going one, his sales were through the roof and he didn’t really care. I was renting at the speed of sex. It took 10 minutes to convince someone to come on board and 5 seconds to get them hooked for life. With Buzz and Shugs involved, and with everyone aware of their participation, nothing was ever lost in translation and no one was ever late with their returns. I was raking it in. About 300 pounds a week in profit, after all expenses. My expenses were Steve, the bullies, and the magazines. Everything else was clear cut profit. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and I still had another year to go at this school!

Respect was everything, and from nowhere, my name was out there and the tide had turned. At Christmas, we always had a school dance. Richard Sockett was dating Laura Strathern, and at that particular dance she dumped him, while dancing with him, and came up to me and snogged me in front of the whole school. This, I promise you, had never happened before. I had girls lining up outside my house in Giffnock, asking my parents when I would be home. I had boys from school calling my house, boys I’d never heard of, asking my mum when they could come round to buy ‘8 tracks’ wink wink! It was a total mess, but a good mess in which to be involved.

By the time 1974 came around, I had over 10,000 pounds in the bank. NO one I knew had even a tenth of that amount to their name. My dad asked me where all the money was coming from. I told him 8 Tack stereo. He never questioned that. He would often ask me, what are you going to do with all that cash? I told him I had no idea. Nothing came close to the thrill of being successful and the rush of making a deal work. I had no interest in material objects, all I wanted to do was have a good business and lots of girls chasing me. Both eventually came to fruition.

By the end of 1975, I had nearly doubled my bank account, and it was time to move up to another school, Eastwood High school. My business came to an end, but my ambition had only just begun. Fresh pastures, fresh ideas, but never as profitable as Woodfarm. I ended up feeling like Hugh Hefner. I’d bought an apartment in Thornliebank, close to Giffnock, where my grandfather went to live. This felt like the Playboy mansion to me, even tough it was only 800 sq feet and had no bunnies My porn days were over, but my business was just about to begin. My next project, plastic shopping bags to Indian restaurants, but that’s another story for another day. I wonder where Gary and Steve are today? Probably still trying to separate all the pages that were stuck together on the magazines we had returned each night! Well, someone had to do it! Right??

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