I thought all that was behind me. I suppose I should never have taken Gary's generosity at face value. I remember handing over the holdall to him outside the NCP.
He was sitting in the passenger seat of one of those massive BMW X5s. I couldn't quite see the man in the driver's seat, but I could smell his cigar and I could hear he was listening to a Talk Sport piece on the chances of Chelsea retaining the title in the forthcoming season. He started laughing at one point, "ere, Gaz, not if I have anyfink to do wiv it. Fhak me. Not if I get my way! I was telling Dave the other day. Y'know, Dave? Dave the roofer? Fhak, he's only gawn an moved to Canada the dippy cahnt. Canada's no place for roofing, it's all fahkin' igloos 'n' that ..'ang on, it's Toast [he said, receiving an incoming text message] yeh, it's the real deal. Get your boy out for more of the same. Anyway, he's only gawn and .."
I couldn't make out the rest, as Gary thrust an envelope in my direction. "Happy birthday Barry old son, get yourself back out east. Don't do anything daft like going back to the Travelodge either. Get yourself out to T5 now. Remember, business class never get any problems. Don't call me eh, don't go to any trouble. I've been in touch with Tia, she'll meet you at the airport and take care of things. You're like the brother I never had Barry. A proper diamond. I just want you to be happy, y'know?"
I am not afraid to admit it readers, I cried like a baby right there on the pavement outside that NCP as that X5 drove off into the night. I opened the envelope to find that Gary had been kind enough to give me a little bit of spending money too. By my estimates, about £10,000 in used fifties.
I was heading to Bangkok once more!