The first time I met Dave Courtney was in a pub in Barkingside called The Chequers. At that time I had never heard of him but I have since read his books & been told who he is.
Dave Courtney is an English self-proclaimed former gangster who has become both an author & celebrity. I had no idea who he was the first time I met him.
I was going to see Arsenal play one weekend & I had gone up to London for the weekend. I was going to stay the weekend with some friends who lived in Barkingside. I had gone up early on a Friday morning & as there would be no one home until the evening I had left my car at their house & walked around to the local pub, The Chequers. I ordered myself a pint & stood at the bar watching people play pool.
There was one man playing who was winning every single game & I couldn't believe how easily he was winning, it was almost as if people were letting him win deliberately which was surprising as they were playing for ₤10 a game. I ordered myself another pint & put my name down to play pool as they were playing, the winner stays on. By the time it was my turn to play, I had had another beer & was quite relaxed after my long drive to my friends that morning.
I paid for my game, set the pool balls up on the table & introduced myself to the man who had won every game so far. I thought he had been very lucky to win any of the games & was confident of beating him. He shook me by the hand & told me his name was Dave & asked me where I was from. I explained that I was from Fareham & was there for a football match & to stay with friends for the weekend. He then told me that they played for ₤10 a game. Although I was confident of beating him at pool, I have a personal rule to never play pool for money, it is an easy way to lose friends or get in a fight, so I just don't play for money, unless it's a friendly game of killer. I told him this before we started but told him I was happy to buy him a pint if he wanted one. He said we could play for a pint instead so I agreed.
He broke but didn't pot anything, I played & potted a couple of balls before I missed & he took his next go. He potted a couple of balls before he missed & let me back on the table. Luckily for me, the balls on the table were all quite well split & I went back to the table & cleared all my balls & potted the black to win the game. As the black went down I noticed that the whole pub had been watching the game & that it had suddenly gone very quiet. I walked across to Dave at the bar thanked him for the game, got myself a beer & ordered one for him as well. The barman didn't say anything but looked at the man I had just beaten, he nodded at the barman & the two beers arrived.
We sat talking for a while & I noticed that no one else went near the pool table. Dave told me that I was a good player & I told him that I practised a lot because I was blind in one eye & then I told him how I had lost the sight in my right eye. After chatting for a while mostly about football, Dave asked me for another game of pool. I agreed to play him again as there was no one else playing & he told me it was my turn to break. I broke the balls & they split very well with two of one colour going down from the break. I continued to clear all of my balls & the black from the break. Once again the bar went very quiet & everyone was looking at me as I took Dave's hand & shook it, he had not even had a shot & I had 8 balled him.
We both sat back at the bar again for a while talking & he told me that he had to go as he had some business to take care of. As he left he said goodbye & thanked me for the games & two huge men who had been sitting near us got up & followed him out. As he walked out all of the people in the bar started talking at once & the volume went back up again. I checked my watch & decided to have another pint before going back to my friend's house.
I went to the bar & ordered another beer & asked the barman if I could pay for my drinks & for those I had bought Dave. The barman told me I didn't have a bill so I reminded him of the beer I had drunk, the two I had got for Dave & the one he had just handed me. He said you haven't got a bill because Dave paid for all your beer whilst you are here. I again asked if he was sure & he asked me if I had any idea who it was I had been drinking with & playing pool against. I told him that I knew his name was Dave but I didn't know anything else about him. It was then he told me that Dave, was Dave Courtney the gangster & told me all about him & suggested I looked him up on the internet.
After I finished my beer I went back to my friend's house & they were all home. I told them I had been playing pool against a bloke called Dave Courtney & they told me that they hoped I let him win. I told them about my afternoon & they told me the same story the barman had told me. It seemed I had spent the afternoon with Dave Courtney an Eastend gangster.
A few months later I was in a local club in Fareham & saw that Dave Courtney was going to be appearing in a local pub, he was doing a tour of the country talking about his life as a gangster & promoting his books. I had been banned from the bar he was speaking in, purely because the landlord didn't like me, but I thought I would sneak into the bar to see if the Dave Courtney I had met, was Dave Courtney the Eastend Gangster who would be appearing in the pub.
As I approached the door of the pub I found the entrance blocked by two large bouncers & the landlord of the pub. The landlord moved forward to stop me from going in & told me again that I was banned. As he did so, over his shoulder, sitting at the bar I saw Dave Courtney with the two large men that had followed him out of the pub in Barkingside a few weeks previously. He was looking towards the door to see what was going on & as he saw me he got up. He walked through the door of the pub pushing the landlord & the bouncers to one side. He came towards me grabbed me & gave me a big man hug & asked me how I was. He then turned to the landlord of the bar & the bouncers & told them that I was a friend of his & asked if there was a problem with me coming in. The landlord said there was no problem at all & made way for me to walk in with Dave Courtney. Going in with Dave also meant the landlord couldn't charge me the ₤20 entrance to see him talk. I sat at the bar with Dave & his two companions for a while before he went on to do his talk & had a chat with him again after he had finished. Once again Dave would not let me buy a drink & I left the bar a short time later when he left. He offered me a lift home but I explained I was going on somewhere else & we parted ways outside the bar.
I never knew who Dave Courtney was when I met him, I have read all about him since & follow any news of him on the television but I can honestly say that on the two occasions I met him he was very nice to me. I have never met or heard from him since seeing him in Fareham, thanks for your company & for the beer Dave.