It was Good Friday lunchtime and I was considering the possibilities for the weekend. Where to go, what to do, and who with.
To be honest, I wasn't really feeling like a big weekend. I'd been drunk for 3 days. However, as it was Easter, I kind of felt like I should make the effort. I decided to give Jeanette a ring. The insanely gorgeous, as well as quite literally insane Jeanette, is from Berlin. She's an art house pixie with the sexual morals of a dog, who's over in London for a year's study as part of her degree.
She's house, baby, and dog sitting, down in Surrey for her Auntie. I didn't really feel too much sympathy for her because her enforced incarceration was not in some crappy little flat in Guilford. Jeanette’s Auntie Anna was part of Madonna’s management and lived in a mansion on the very posh and gated Wentworth Park Estate in Virginia Water. The wine cellar was stocked to the gills and the fridge was the size of transit van. I could think of worse places to be marooned for the weekend.
By four o'clock I was heading south out of Waterloo and rubbing my hands together at the thought of what delights might be waiting for me in leafy Surrey. The fridge was full, if nothing else.
I finally found the tiny lane that leads to the house and was buzzed through the gates by a security guard. It's like a quaint country lane flanked by groves of enormous trees that in turn provide some privacy for the even more enormous houses on each side of the road. Jeanette seems very pleased to see me. It's a good start. She then flutters her eyelashes and dispatches me a mile back to the fucking station to get her some cigarettes. On my return I was passed in the lane by a convoy of blacked out people carriers. They drove past my destination and turned immediately into next door's driveway. A man in a dark suit got out and spoke briefly to another man who seemed to be guarding the top of the driveway to the house, before the cars then crackled their way down the gravel towards the house. Upon returning with the smokes, I asked Jeanette who lived next door. Brucie? Tarby? Chris Evans? Cliff Richard maybe?
“General Pinochet”, she says.
“Nein really”, she laughed.
It was indeed true. Some weeks earlier the Butcher of Santiago, known more commonly as the President of Chile, had made a stopover in the UK en route back to South America. Upon touching down on British soil, Spain had demanded his arrest on charges of genocide and he was currently enduring a very comfy house arrest on the Wentworth Park Estate until such time as the whole grubby mess was sorted out in the courts.
Jeanette’s job was hardly a difficult one. Her Aunt and Uncle were spending the Easter weekend in New York with Madge, whilst Jeanette baby sat her 2 year-old niece and walked the dogs. I woke up on Saturday morning with a champagne hangover and wandered in the basket ball court sized kitchen to find some juice. Rocco, the dog was crossing his legs and flipping summersaults by the French windows. I let him out into the garden where upon he immediately deposited an almighty dump right in the middle of the manicured lawn. I began the job of raiding Aladdin’s fridge and concocting breakfast. Scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages, and a jug of bucks fizz. Jeanette appeared in a bath robe, looking equally rough, and immediately spotted the brown mound in the middle of the lawn.
Her German accent rang out. “Ze Dawg hess done a shiddy on zer gartan! You vill heff to clear it up”
30 minutes later we were both three parts pissed again, having demolished the jug of Bucks Fizz. I decided to get the doggy issue out of the way before the day deteriorated any further. However, the thought of placing a small black plastic bag over my hand and picking up warm dog shit was not one I was relishing. I would investigate the garage for a shovel and scoop it into the flower beds. I rounded up Rocco from the end of the garden and while I was outside, I glimpsed something through the thick Leylandi hedge that separated us from next door.
Some 80 metres away, I could see an elderly man in a wheel chair. He was on a small terrace by a swimming pool, a tartan blanket over his legs, and reading a newspaper. Thin silver hair swept back over his head and wearing obligatory Bono-style shades. I immediately recognized who it was. General Augusto Pinochet, President of Chile since 1973 and one of the biggest mass murderers in modern history. It was at that point that I discarded any thought of finding a shovel. A thwacky bamboo was much more appropriate.
The first one was more of a range finder. It went straight over his head and plopped into the pool. However, its entry caused the General to look up from his paper and look around, wondering what had just gone 'plop' into his pool. I needed to get the next shot a bit lower over the 15 ft Leylandi and not fling it quite so hard.
The second shot was a peach. Rocco's freshly minted stool fairly buzzed the top of the hedge, missing Pinochet by a whisker, and splattering against the balustrade of the terrace. Pinochet sat up straight with a jolt, folded his newspaper, and began to wheel about like a demented Dalek. I definitely had him ruffled by now, but I was now down to my last piece of ammunition; at least until tomorrow. I changed position and tried to get a bit more head-on. I let fly with the last nugget but failed to connect with the evil old goat.
However, this time he clearly saw it splat on the French windows and shouted for an aide to wheel him back inside.
There was a lot of shouting and gesturing in Spanish. “Un hijo de puta es tirar me disparó. ahora me llevan en el interior!”
Some bastard is flinging shit at me. Get me inside now!
I ducked back towards the back of the house and continued to watch through a gap in the trees; giggling like a school boy. Some security type dudes appeared on the terrace and took a walk around. The doggy butt nugget was spotted in the pool and fished out with a net. The guy with the net had clearly put two and two together and decided to return the compliment by flinging the poop back over the hedge of trees. It flew right over our garden and splattered on the side of next door's conservatory. A house that was currently being rented by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
At this point I was told, in angry Teutonic tones, that I was to come inside NOW and stop causing trouble between the neighbours. It was a small victory for democracy and the common man. Rocco had played his part well.
Some years later, I was working with a Chilean guy in Stockholm. He had told me some horror stories about growing up as a teenager under Pinochet's regime. I told him the doggy doo story. Some months later, having returned from a trip home, my Chilean colleague handed me a letter from they mayors office of his home town, Rancagua, in Chile. I was commended for my actions and further told that I was probably the only man alive who had ever thrown shit at Pinochet and was alive to tell the tale.