Howard Marks holding his book Mr Nice.

I have a large number of Cousins, Uncles & Aunties living in South Wales & I go to Porthcawl, Glamorgan, to see them when I can.

How I met Howard Marks.

One of my relatives, Paul Morris, was a real character & seemed to know everyone & I always used to go out to meet him in the morning. We would go for a drive around so he could point out places where relatives lived, or places that I might find interesting for my family tree research, before going back to Porthcawl to have several beers & meet with other family members or friends at the Queens pub.

One day Paul & I had been up to Bwlch y Clawdd, Nantymoel & on the way back we drove down through Kenfig Hill & stopped at The Walnut pub. We walked into the pub & it was quite quiet. Towards the back of the bar sat a man on his own & Paul walked up to him & said hello, he then introduced me to the man, saying 'Alan this Howard, Howard this is my cousin Alan'. The man called Howard shook my hand & said hello & asked Paul if he wanted a pint. Paul told him what he wanted & he asked what I wanted. I asked for a pint of cider & Paul told him that I drank like a fish & would give him a run for his money. We all stood talking & finished our drinks & I bought another round of drinks. When we had finished the drinks Paul said we better get back to the Queens pub, we shook hands with Howard & went back to Porthcawl, I parked at my Bed & Breakfast & Paul & I walked back to the Queens pub where we spent the rest of the day drinking, playing pool & having a laugh with friends & family that came in.

A few weeks later I was at Gatwick airport on my way to Florida & went to buy a book to read on the plane. In front of the shop was a huge display of one book. It was titled Mr Nice & after reading a quick description on the back I bought it to read on the plane. I was halfway through the book when I got to a section with lots of pictures of Interpol's most wanted drug smuggler. It was an amazing read all about how Mr Nice had been wanted all over the world for drug smuggling, his deals, his prison time & even how he helped the secret service in the USA. I was looking at all the old pictures of Mr Nice taken at different stages in his life & from all over the world when I saw an up to date photo of him.

It was at this point that my brain clicked into gear & I realized why the old photo on the front of the book looked familiar. Looking at the up to date photo inside the book I suddenly realized that the Howard I had met & been drinking with two weeks previously in The Walnut pub in Kenfig, was Howard Marks, the man connected with groups as diverse as the CIA, the IRA, MI6, and the Mafia.

When I was introduced to Howard Marks I thought he was a nice polite man & had no idea of who he was. It just goes to show we never know who we may be talking to in our local pub.