Chapter 36 – The Dorchester
They didn’t use the Ritz Hotel anymore, they used the Dorchester. Ellen and Carla were very excited when they found out. As usual Greta had no idea what they were talking about, and as Ellen and Carla were talking excitedly about what they would wear and take with them, she interrupted their enthusiastic tirade by saying that, ‘JC could sleep with her’, and she pulled JC into the downstairs bedroom, slamming the door behind her with a kick of her Marks & Spencer shoe.
Ellen and Carla looked at each other wide-eyed after the door slammed shut, and then roared with supressed laughter. They had to hold on to each other to make it up the stairs.
Greta had always known she would meet JC. She had visualised him ever since she was a child. Her perfect man.
She didn’t know it would take her a journey of 1,000 years to find him. But that explained why she could never feel his presence before. She lay now as she had always known she would, against the warmth of his chest. His arms around her, she felt safe and secure for the first time in her life.
He told her his story.
He had been brought up in a rough part of London, the Isle of Dogs.
Greta thought it must be rough to live on an island full of dogs, but she didn’t interrupt. In fact there were many parts of JC’s story that she didn’t understand, but she resolved to ask him about it later. She knew they would have lots of time.
In fact JC said he now had a company flat in London Docklands that was close to the Daily Chronicle’s offices in Wapping and not far from where he was brought up. The area was being re-developed for the London Olympic Games. The Isle of Dogs was now quite an up-market area, and if he didn’t have the company flat, he wouldn’t be able to afford to live there.
He had never married, and lived alone. But Greta already knew that. A woman’s instinct. A Witches intuition.
From an early age, his father had taken him and his younger brother to the local boxing club. His father said they needed to be toughened up, his mother didn’t approve. His younger brother was the bright one at school, and soon dropped out of boxing, but JC went on to become the London Schools champion at 15.
He struggled at school and joined the Army at 16.
After his basic training his tall stature singled him out for the Guards, and he saw service in Northern Ireland and then was wounded in Iraq.
After he was declared fit to return to service, he was promoted to Captain and assigned to the Police Special Branch. The Special Branch oversees all Royal Protection duties.
He was part of the team that travelled with Charles the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Princess of Wales and later protected the young Princes William and Harry.
He was in India when the famous picture of Diana was taken sitting alone outside the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal temple. He had stood behind the photographer when he took the picture.
He was in the back-up car following behind Diana’s limousine when she was tragically killed in Paris. The driver of Diana’s armoured Mercedes was an experienced man, but he pushed his luck a little too far that night. He was trying to out-run a group of paparazzi following the car at high-speed on motorbikes and scooters. The Mercedes clipped a concrete pillar in an underpass at over 100mph. The car cartwheeled, spinning out of control and smashed into a concrete wall. He was one of the last people to see Diana alive, he had tried to give her CPR. But he knew from his time of trying to help fallen colleagues in Northern Ireland and Iraq that she wouldn’t make it.
After he returned to London, he met Spiers Morgan who was then Editor of the Daily Chronicle. He gave Spiers his story about Diana’s death on the condition that his name didn’t appear. Spiers kept his word.
A few months afterwards he went to a Charity dinner where the Countess of Wessex was speaking. There was one other Special Branch officer on duty that night other than himself. The Countess who was married to Prince Edward, was one of the more junior members of the Royal Family and only warranted a small protection detail.
The occasion was a memorial fundraising dinner at the upmarket Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane. Princess Diana had been patron of this children’s cancer charity, and it was a dinner to honour her and to raise funds. A three course meal without wine was £250 a head.
There were large pictures of Diana around the room, and the video tribute to her charity work with children, brought a tear to every eye in the room. Including his own.
Some 300 guest sat down to dinner and Spiers Morgan was the guest speaker, his job was to introduce the Countess who was taking over as Patron of the charity. The choice of Spiers was quite contentious because there was still quite a lot of anti-press feeling in the country. Many people felt that Diana’s death was caused in no small part by her constant hounding by the press. Press intrusion was now a phrase on everyone’s lips.
Spiers made a good speech and introduced the Countess. She spoke reverently of Diana, and praised the work of the charity. She sat down to thunderous applause and coffee and liqueurs were served.
At an event of this size the big London hotels employ an army of temporary staff to host the events and wait at tables. It is impossible to vet everyone, and one of the staff turned out to be a psychotic who had an obsession with Diana.
Apparently she had lost her mother in a road accident, and had used Diana’s death as a way of dealing with her grief. In the classic phases of grief, denial, anger, acceptance, moving-on, she was in the anger phase.
JC saw the way she lifted her arm to strike before he saw the razor sharp butchers’ knife clutched in her fist. He lunged and knocked her to the ground, with the blade just an inch from the back of Spiers Morgan’s neck. He disarmed her easily, and the incident was hushed up. She was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act, and as far as JC knew she was still in a mental institution.
Afterwards Spiers made JC an offer he couldn’t refuse, and he had worked for the Daily Chronicle ever since.
Spiers had left his job at the Daily Chronicle to follow a career in television, he was now a celebrity TV chat show host in the USA. JC still drove him when he came to London.
The current Editor of the Daily Chronicle had assigned JC to Cathy Murphy who she described as a ‘brilliant young hack that needed protecting from herself’.
As they drifted off to sleep, Greta recounted JC’s story in her head, and made a mental note to question him about some aspects she didn’t understand.
But one thing Greta did know was what Princess Diana looked like. Carla had showed her the picture on her tablet. She was sorry the elegant woman was dead, she had been a powerful Sister, and she would have loved to have met her.