Chapter 2 October 1992
“Alan it’s me we need to talk” said the American at the other end of the phone. It was my cousin Michael from LA.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I need to see you. I will be in London tomorrow so take some time off to talk to me. I am a mess”
Michael Shillan is my fathers’ sisters’ son. So in other words he is my first cousin. He is 18 months younger than me but as he was the first person in the family born in the USA (my aunt and uncle moved to California in 1959) we never met until I was 13 and even then it was only for a few days. Michael then spent a year in Scotland when we were in our mid teens and then I didn’t see him again until I went to LA on honeymoon in 1981. There was then another 5 year gap and around 1986 we started to meet regularly when I was traveling all over the world for my business and he’d finished his college degree and was starting a company of his own in California, therefore it became easier to call and visit. Michael was a CPA, which in the US is a Certified Public Accountant. He and I became good friends and he seemed to be the brother I never had. We had a lot in common and we also differed a lot in many ways but we enjoyed each others company and we loved to golf together as often as we could. As I got to know him I also got to know his girlfriend who later became his wife and then his next girlfriend who later became his second wife. I also got to know and dislike all of his strange habits. One in particular, the massive phlegm balls he would spit up every morning when brushing his teeth. The actions involved in making this happen were so loud and so disgusting that it always shook the house or the hotel room we were staying in to their bare foundations. The other habit that I found strange was his bi-weekly manicure at the beauty salon. To me this is what women did. But this wasn’t his perception. It was a necessity to keep his California image in tact.
Michael always shopped too. In fact like his mother he never stopped shopping! He bought clothes like you and I buy groceries and his taste for Cuban cigars and wine ran into thousands of dollars a month. I never knew where he got the money. He always carried this wad of dollar bills with him wherever he went and everywhere we would go he would pay cash. I used to think that he paid himself weekly in $1 bills so the wad would look thicker! ‘Must be a ploy to impress women!’ I thought. He tipped like it was going out of fashion. He would often give bartenders $5 just for pouring him a glass of wine. Total extravagance!
I arrived at Heathrow airport in London in anticipation for his arrival off the TWA flight from LA anxious to find out what he needed to talk to me about. Little did I know that the next 3 days would change my life forever!
Mike got off the plane and the first thing that he says is,
“I want a divorce!”
“You do?” I responded. “Why’s that?”
“Wait a minute I am not done. I want out of my business too. I don’t want to be a CPA anymore. I’m bored. I’m bored with Jacy (his current wife), and I’m bored with Marc my partner and I want to do something different.”
“Well that’s interesting” I said “ and what would you like to do?”
“Go into business with you in the USA. We can do what you do here in, the UK and we might make a fortune”
Well at that time I was also divorced with no ties and only my son to keep me in the UK. I thought that it might be the opportunity that I’d always wanted, a move to the USA!. My business in London sort of ran itself and I had the possibility to commute back and forth to LA and see if it worked. The 2 of us decided to go and play golf the very next day and discuss it in greater depth.
We were on the links at Wentworth Golf Club on the outskirts of London when Michael decides to hit me with yet another bombshell.
”I am having an affair!”
“You naughty boy. Who is she?” I already knew but I wanted him to confirm it.
“Nanette my secretary.”
“OK no problem. Does your wife know?”
We played on and by the time we got to the 18th I’d persuaded him to invite Nanette to come to London the following day, enabling us to all meet up and also to stop Mike being the morose and miserable fucker he’d become. He agreed.
“By the way” I said. “There is someone I need you to meet up with while you are here”
“Paul Trevillion, and when you meet him if you get 2 words in while we’re in the meeting I’ll buy you and your new girlfriend dinner in any restaurant in London!”
Within 24 hours she (Nanette) was in town and we were all staying at my place until they decided that they couldn’t keep the sheets clean and they moved into the Hilton Hotel in central London. To be honest I couldn’t stand the noise at night. She was a real screamer. She was also a Marilyn Munroe look-alike. Bleached blonde shoulder length hair and a busty curvaceous, yet slim, body. Not wanting to jump to conclusions though, I was surprised to learn that she’d come from farming country in Northern California and had run to LA to seek her fortune.(Yep, you’re right. She and everyone else!) It turned out that she had a large family and Mike would often refer to them as the Hillbillies. In my opinion though she was nothing but a gold digger. I felt that she was out to get what she could and live the Hollywood dream through him. He kept telling me how great she was in bed and it was for exactly that reason that I suggested they find a hotel room as soon as possible.
We decided to meet up with Trevillion for lunch in Soho and by the time that lunch date arrived, I’d already decided to try to open this new venture in LA in the form of an equal partnership with Michael. I’d also shown him my new lapel pin idea and although he thought it was good he didn’t see how it could work in my favor. That was his first mistake and eventually with what transpired in the UK he would do a 180-degree turn around on the concept and in actual fact he would soon be telling me how this idea was going to make him richer than rich.
The meeting with Trevillion was hilarious. Michael never said one word let alone 2! The man blew him away and Trevillion told me afterwards that he’d never met anyone as nice as Michael and Nanette. How wrong he was. Only thing is it took us 5 years to find out what a fiendish character Mike really was. Not only fiendish but greedy and self-centered with an exterior that people loved and an inner self that had an ego larger that the state of Texas.
So here is the story so far. I had the concept to create the worlds best and newest collectible. I had the mechanism to do this in the UK through the company that I owned in London. I had the artist to draw the players that I wanted to sign up for this project. I had the possibility that this artist would introduce me to the Sun newspaper to see if they would promote it for me. I needed to find a retail outlet for the pins and I also needed to try to find someone famous in the UK to back the idea through its promotion in the Sun. Fame sells!
On top of this I had the chance to fulfill my childhood dreams and start a company in the USA, where I’d always wanted to live, alongside my first cousin and closest friend Michael, and hopefully move there over time should that company turn out to be successful. The question was what to do? One can only run in one direction at a time. I remembered as a teenager running at a stadium in Hornchurch England in front of 10,000 people at an athletics meet. I was running the 100 meters and at the time I was quite fast. I was 17. A young man called Linford Christie stormed past me and I came 2nd. He was a year younger and a complete unknown at the time. He went on to win gold in the Olympic 100m in Barcelona. Anyway I thought to myself on that particular day, “I am just not good enough to do this!”
Now with everything that seemed to be happening to me at the age of 33 I had similar thoughts, but this time I was determined that I would cope and be also become successful.