* * *
The following day was a Sunday, and there was a flea market at the multi-storey in Brighton Marina, which sat ugly and concrete up against the high-rise apartments and the supermarket that this masterpiece of modern engineering had been conceived to provide some time back in the seventies. Once this valuable piece of real estate had been the windswept Black Rocks, where the sea hid mysterious Jurassic paths cut out of the solid rock that stuck out of the water at low tide and the Victorian Volks Electric Railway had once carted happy tourists down the coast to Rottingdean in the summer months before someone realised an electric railway that ran along high voltage tracks partially submerged by seawater was potentially a Really Bad Idea. You can still see the remains of Volks’ folly, at time of writing, poking out of the surf at low tide.
Wandering aimlessly around the carpark beneath the steel sky I suddenly found myself staring at a large copy of the cinema poster for The Eye in The Pyramid (1977). Roddy McDowell is portrayed in a sort of Trompe L’oeil pose, coming out of the letter “P” with an eyeball in his hand that he has apparently gouged out – which was odd, because there was nothing like that in the movie. Once again the director playing tricks with us, saying more with what was absent than what was present.
I managed to find an old walkman in amongst the faded deco ambience and threadbare furnishings and headed home to listen to the tape Ned Spartacus had brought me, hoping it might furnish some further clues to the Harry Rubik mystery.
* * *
“The Ancient Romans had a saying that the people are kept in line by bread and circuses,” the nasal voice of Rubik was saying, “to which we might add the cinema. In other words, as long as they’re well fed and entertained people are basically docile. Entertainment is an industry just like any other. It produces consent.
“You want to know how the entertainment industry works? I’ll give you an example. The sixties? Peace and love? That was all orchestrated. You think that the hippies started organically? That all came from a couple of think-tanks in London and California. It’s called controlled opposition.
“See at that time you have the Vietnam War. You have your Kennedy and Nixon – basically quasi-socialism with the Democrats, represented in Kennedy, versus crypto-fascism. We all know who eventually won in that conversation. The power of the military industrial complex was greatly increasing. No one has greatly shaken things up since then.
At this time you have the Beatles, The Doors, and the Peace Generation. Well, let’s look at that. All kinds of people in the music business have CIA or military connections. The Doors were signed and produced by a guy whose name was Rothschild, for Chrissake’. Jim Morrison’s father was a high ranking naval commander, who was implicated in staging the incident that kick-started the Vietnam war, by the way. Look it up. John Lennon was a patsy, a performing monkey for those people. Probably inducted into the low-level Freemasons in Hamburg by his lover Epstein. As soon as he goes rogue and starts genuinely protesting wars, hands back his OBE, he’s mysteriously shot up by a lone gunman in New York – what an unfortunate coincidence.
“At this time you have men like Timothy Leary, turning people on to LSD – encouraging the intelligentsia who might have opposed the war in Vietnam, who might have been able to stop it, to drop out and essentially give up. We know Tim Leary worked for the CIA. It’s widely supposed that he went rogue, when in fact he was probably one of their best agents. The British used opium to keep the people down in their eastern empire for years and years. LSD was essentially just an extension of that. Heroin had certain drawbacks in that it tended to kill people, so they didn’t want it becoming too widespread closer to home. But LSD and the other new synthetic compounds were ideal to keep the population docile. It’s just like Huxley talked about.
“All of this was directed from research institutes at Esalen, in California, and Bloomsbury in London.
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist. They don’t control everything – and by They you know who I mean. When Michael Jackson bought the rights to the Beatles back catalogue he put a lot of noses out of joint – no pun intended. He was just talent, he wasn’t one of their inner circle. Suddenly he owns something they thought was rightfully theirs. The publishing rights to the most famous band in the world – imagine! So they’ll try to sully his reputation. That’s one more method they use to control people. Everyone loves a scandal. Or they’ll just give him some terrible disease. They can do that. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have him murdered, too.”
“What about you,” said the other voice on the tape, “you worked for some of those people. Did they ever put any pressure on you… you ever have to do anything you didn’t really want to do?”
There came no answer. The rest was only murky noise as the reels spooled to an end.
* * *
My long-expected meeting with Len Valentino, Rubik’s former assistant, was finally confirmed when I had begun to doubt it would ever occur. Several weeks after his initial contact, I received a call from Valentino’s personal assistant, Jane, informing me that he would be returning from Califonia early the following week and would be happy to meet me, giving an address in London.
The morning of our meeting as I was heading out of the door my wife Julia was waiting for me with her arms folded. She picked up the phone and waved it at me.
“There was a call for you yesterday,” she said. “Your friend Captain Mandrax passed away in his care home in Bexhill-on-Sea.”