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Steve Braunias' World Cup Diary: day 13

Steve Braunias' World Cup Diary: day 13

Jun 25, 2014 Sport

WTF – IT’S A LONG STORY ABOUT GEORGE BEST!

A week in hell with George Best

First published in Metro in 1996.

Guy Cater is a lovely man. Tall, slender, 49, warm as toast and eager to please, with a lively, innocent face, he lives in Titirangi and his ad is in the Yellow Pages: “Hilarious Hypnotist. Also Top MC and Comedian.” In March this year he was invited, along with Auckland covers band Kantuta, to perform at the Middle East Trade Fair in Dubai.

It was a terrific gig to get. All expenses paid, a big fee, an exotic venue; there was also the chance to make valuable contacts. After one show he met up with a guy who used to play for English football club Arsenal. His name was Terry. He had done well for himself in the United Arab Emirates. He now runs a brothel. Speciality, Russian girls.

Two travellers, both men of the world, a long way from home; the Arabian night, the Russian girls – such was Cater’s appointment with destiny, because it was here that the name of George Best first took hold of his soul.

The brothelkeeper knew people who knew Best, and suggested to Cater that it might prove a moneyspinner to book the former football star on a speaking tour of New Zealand. Cater was excited by the prospect. He wanted in.

“He is the archetype of magic and catastrophe,” novelist Pete Davies once wrote of Best. He meant Best’s genius as a player, and his long, sordid descent as an alcoholic wreck. In his pomp in the 1960s and early 1970s, Best was the biggest name in British football, brilliant and inspired, capable of moments of audacious skill at any given moment.

He quit the game at 26, in the summer of 1972, and took up other pursuits. “My life,” he said, “is the three Irish f’s: fucking, fighting, and fucking drinking.”

People want to see genius and they also want to see ruin. These days Best, 50, is much in demand on the after-dinner circuit. It seemed like a good idea to bring him to New Zealand.

 

Cater had no idea how to promote a speaking tour, but he knew a lot about show business. He has worked as a professional entertainer for 16 years. Before that, he sold insurance, made exposed aggregated concrete slabs, and was production manager at a pickled onion factory in Howick. Then he applied for a sales rep job at Rothmans.

He said, “At that time, it was a prestige job. You’d put on your Rothmans jacket and your Rothmans tie and you could walk in anywhere. All the sporting fixtures, no problem. I mean, Peter Snell was involved with the company.

“You had to smoke – that was a pre-requisite for the job, except for a guy called Robert Walker. I’ll never forget him. He got cancer, so they didn’t make him smoke.

“But in getting the job – there were 80 applicants and they got us down to about 12. What you had to do was to make the person next to you take a Rothmans cigarette. They videoed it all: this was the big test. So I walked in and did this.”

Cater demonstrated a magic trick with a cigarette. “The guy said, ‘Wow! I’d love to be able to do that.’ I said, ‘I’ll show you. Here, take one of my cigarettes, and…’ Well, he took it, and I said, ‘I think I’ve passed.’”

Of course he got the job. But he was made for the stage. In 1974, a friend at Databank begged him to perform magic tricks at a Christmas party for the staff’s children. “I had a marvellous time – and they gave me $25! It just went on from there. My wife made up a costume for me, and Happy the Hobo was born.”

He broadened his act and has played up and down the country as a comedian and hypnotist. He occasionally appears on light entertainment programmes on TV. He was a guest on Max TV’s Sunday night chatshow recently alongside former Shortland Street star Greer Robson. Cater hypnotised her into believing the hosts were Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, and that they were naked. Robson didn’t where to look, and kept saying, “Oh my God!” It’s possible she was acting, but why would she choose that moment to start?

Cater appeared on Max only two weeks before George Best was due to arrive on his speaking tour. A freephone ticket hotline number flashed across the screen: at last, some promotion for Best’s tour. There had been no advertising, no posters. But there were two newspaper articles. Michele Hewitson in the New Zealand Herald wrote a story about not being able to get a story – her attempts to interview Best by phone were in vain. It was a theme that would be repeated in New Zealand.

The Sunday Star-Times gave me half a page to rave about Best in anticipation of the great man’s arrival. I laid it on thick. I wrote it from the heart. George Best is my hero.

But a line in the article displeased Cater’s close friend and co-promoter of the speaking tour, Robbie Robson. I didn’t get on with Robson. He seemed very cynical, a shrewd customer,. Cater’s cigarette lighter is inscribed: “To Daddy, Love Vanessa.” Robson’s lighter bears the legend, “Casco Products Impregnated Papers.” Brash, abrupt, dismissive, his manner might owe something to slogging it out as a cabaret singer in the bingo halls and holiday camps of his native England.

He said, “Over there, you tend to be the guy who sings between bingo sessions. If you’re half-way through a song, tough. ‘Let’s pull the plug, mate, and everybody got your bingo tickets!’

“It was just soul-destroying. But here – I found it was very, very easy to become what you wanted to become, and do what you want to do. I can actually float off stage now. Seriously. You should have been with me on Saturday night, because that was the most incredible show I’ve ever done. It was at the Whangamata RSA.”

Robson, 36, performs with a band and chorus girls; he also sometimes shares the stage with Cater, when they bill themselves rather grandly as the Millionaires’ Club. Their motto: “Song and trance.”

Is it a good life? “We’re lucky,” said Cater. “We’re getting to the stage now where we can command bigger fees: $1000, $1500 for a corporate job. Having said that, I did the senior citizens show at the Titirangi RSA a couple of weeks ago for $150.”

They inhabit the curious world of the variety artist, playing up and down the country at RSAs and Cosmopolitan Clubs.

“Over the years,” said Cater,. “we must have entertained literally thousands and thousands of people. And when it’s gone really well, you walk off the stage feeling dead chuffed. There is no other way of describing it. But maybe we’ve been doing it so long now, the next day is just another gig. The euphoria doesn’t last.”

Robson: “As far as I’m concerned, all you need is a lot of money in the bank. We’ve often joked about this. If we had an endless bank balance, to do all the promotion and advertising that’s necessary, a theatre show probably wouldn’t fail making a lot of money. But it’s having that money in the first place. And it’s very hard finding a promoter who wants to handle that sort of gamble.”

Cater: “Like us with George Best. Except that it was a gamble that didn’t pay off.”

The decision to stage the tour began very casually. Cater said, “I walked down to Robbie’s place one day and said, ‘Do you want to be part of this?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, why not.’ But we had no money.”

And not much time. A press release confirming the tour was sent out in mid-October; Best was due to arrive on November 6. Shows were booked for Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua and the Te Rapa raceway in Hamilton. Napier had also been booked, but ticket sales were too low – a grand total of six.

George Best, the football star who thrilled crowds of 80,000 in the great stadiums of Europe, now playing live in the New Zealand provinces. I wrote in the Star-Times: “Imagine his excitement as he looks forward to the Te Rapa raceway in Hamilton.”

“What the hell was all that about?”, Robson said. It was the first thing he said to me. He would quote the sentence every time we met, bitterly, and add: “The fact is, George will be excited to play there.”

Three days before Best, his 24-year-old wife, Alex, and his agent, Bev Walker, were due in town, Robson and Cater met to decide whether they should cancel the tour. Poor ticket sales had already forced them to cancel Rotorua. Robson had asked local entrepreneur Sid Walker to drum up sales through telemarketing, but that plan went nowhere fast.

“I’m embittered by the response we got,” said Walker, who has a background in organising charity events starring Chic Littlewood. “A lot of the soccer clubs we approached hid behind the Privacy Act and refused to give us their membership lists. We had envisaged getting upwards of a thousand people at each center. But the members stayed away in droves. I got the feeling some clubs were almost jealous that we’d brought out Best and not them.”

“We should have cancelled. But we didn’t,” said Robson.

“We still thought we could pull the people,” said Carter. “It’s funny now. But I really thought we would. I really did.”

 

George Best was always fast. Quick on his feet, quick to demonstrate his brilliance – in 1975, when he made a brief but wonderful comeback with Fulham, he raced off to score in his first game for the club in 71 seconds.

It took him about an hour after arriving in New Zealand to create a national scandal.

Short, rumpled, with a greying beard and a rather haunted face, Best gave a press conference at the Sheraton. The room was packed. “Well, fire away,” he said. “You can ask me anything you want. Sex. Alcohol. I don’t care.”

And he really didn’t care. He was asked for his opinion on Paul Gascoigne, the English footballer who made headlines that week for allegedly beating his wife. Best’s reply: “I think we all give the wife a smack once in a while, don’t we? Well, I do. In fact I just did.”

The press had got their story right there and then. Best’s remark sparked widespread disgust and outrage. Oddly, though, his comment was greeted with nothing more than a bit of embarrassed laughter at the press conference. No one seemed to mind all that much. There had been a smattering of applause when Best was introduced but a standing ovation when he brought it to a lose with the words, “I’m gasping for a drink.”

He had been very funny. There were old war stories: “Tommy Smith from Liverpool – he was a hard man. Ugly bastard, too. I told him the other day. I did. I said, ‘Tommy, you’re the dirtiest, ugliest bastard I’ve ever met.’ Then I put the phone down.”

And: “I did the Wogan TV show drunk. I made a fool of myself. But one nice thing happened. A couple of pals phoned up. Oliver Reed, and Alex Higgins. They both said, ‘You looked alright to us, Bestie!’”

Everyone laughed. He was a hilarious alcoholic. The conference was a great success. Carter was euphoric. He got a little carried away: after Best had gasped down his post-conference wine and left, Cater performed a disappearing trick with a cigarette, which involved whipping it behind his ear at the same time as thrusting out his arse and passing extremely loud wind. I thought it was the funniest thing I’d seen in my life. I was on a high from seeing Best in person.

All seemed well that day, although Robson looked at me through very hard eyes, and hissed: “Te Rapa!” But he, too, was thrilled with the conference, and the publicity. Jim Mora from Holmes took Best aside for an interview to be screened that night. Ric Salizzo and Lana Coc-Kroft from Sky TV’s Sports Café, who had invited Best to guest on their live show at 7pm, stood by to watch.

“How will he be able to be at our studios,” wondered Coc-Kroft, “at the same time as being on Holmes?”

“It’s a pre-record,” said Salizzo.

“A what?”, she said.

Best was funny on Holmes, and even funnier in Sports Café. He sat on a sofa next to All Black Zinzan Brooke. They made strange couch fellows. Brooke thrust out his huge jaw, a big man in top physical condition; his knees were as high as the small, old Irishman’s chest. But Brooke looked at him and listened to him with awe. After he left, and the show was over, he announced to nobody in particular: “George Best – he’s The Man!”

Salizzo had the job of dismantling the set. While he huffed and puffed, Brooke and co-star Marc Ellis stood to one side, and had a conversation.

Brooke said, “Where’re we off to?”

Ellis said, “I feel like Parnell.”

Brooke said, “VGB?”

Ellis, “It’s VBG, not VGB. Nah. Let’s go to a place you can really get pissed in.”

Brooke said, “What about the Exchange?”

Ellis said, “Nah. It’s just not going off anymore.”

Iguacu it was.

 

For Best and his gang – his wife Alex, Cater, Robson and his wife Leanne, Sid Walker, and Bev Walker – it was back to the Sheraton, where they had all booked rooms for the week. They had a relaxed, merry supper together. It was a nice way to end a highly satisfactory first day of Best’s tour.

Except for a few problems Cater and Robson were having with Best’s agent, Bev Walker, a terse man who seldom seemed relaxed.

When they met at the airport, according to Cater, Walker demand a 15,000 pound fee upfront. Cater said Walker agreed to accept 5,000. “That is a total load of rubbish,” said Walker.

I phoned him after the tour, at his home in England. “What we agreed is confidential. Was it higher? Well, I think all I would say to you is, work some logic out in your head. Do you think somebody would spend that amount of time travelling out from England and back for an amount of money that could be easily achieved in two days work at home without hardly moving out of bed?”

There was also a problem with transport. Walker complained to me at the Sheraton that he had been promised a limousine, with a bar in the back; instead, Best was ferried around in a six-seater Toyota.

“I’m glad you told me that,” said Robson. “Bev wanted to know about every detail of the tour. He said, ‘What are we going to travel around in?’

“I said, ‘Well, I got us a coach. It’s a 20-seater, like the England football squad tours in. It’s got tables and the next-best thing to a lounge, and a bar in the back.’

“Bev’s answer was, ‘Oooh, I’m telling you right here, right now, that would not be a good idea.’

“I said, ‘Why not?’

“He said, ‘Well, if you put George next to the grog, he’ll drink it.’ So that idea was quickly done away with, for obvious reasons.”

Cater: “Bev was anti when he arrived here, because we had had to make compromises in the fee. And yet we basically paid for him to come out here and do some business. He went and saw promoters around town; he was obviously organising things in the future. He got a free plane ride out here, got George drunk, left him sleeping all day, did his business, bitched like buggery, and went home.”

Yes, said Bev Walker, he did meet with a number of contacts. “That was particularly interesting. I would think there are a number of opportunities being generated and we are certainly looking to bring George back. In fact, I’ve already got an agreement with Denis Law (Best’s former team-mate at Manchester United) for him and George to come out and do a tour.”

Would he consider getting it promoted by Cater and Robson? “I would think that,” he said, “was highly unlikely.”

 

Next stop, Tauranga. Best received a standing ovation for his after-dinner speech. The opening act were also warmly received – Cater and Robson performed their song and trance routine.

“We had the most amazing night,” said Cater. “Everything we did just seemed funnier than ever. We walked off going, ‘Wow!’ They were hanging off our every word.”

Unfortunately, there were only 47 people in the audience.

On the following day, a Friday, Best was the guest speaker at the Sheraton Luncheon Club. Another hilarious speech, another standing ovation, and this time he pulled a good crowd, who paid $69.50 a head. There were more than 400 people in the audience – but all proceeds went to the Sheraton.

Bev Walker had set up a stall at the back of the room. He sold George Best videos, George Best books, and black and white photos of George Best for $2. It was the happiest I saw him during the tour.

The afternoon wore on. Best was joined in the lobby bar by former All Whites coach John Adshead, and Sir Howard Morrison.

“There are a lot of similarities between me and George Best,” Adshead told me that day at the Sheraton. “I met his very charming and very young wife today; I, too, have moved in that direction.
“I have a young family now. I’m 54 today. He’ll have children very soon; by the time he’s 54, he’ll probably have a four-year-old son as well.”

He said that if he had been Best’s manager at Manchester United, he would have saved his career. “I like to think so,. One of my great skills as a football manager is to be a people manager. He possibly would have stayed with soccer under my direction. That sounds egotistical. But I think that may have happened.”

Sir Howard hadn’t planned to meet Best. That morning, he led an official welcoming party at the airport for Michael Jackson, in Auckland to play at Mt Smart; he came to the Sheraton that afternoon on other business, and was introduced to Best.

“We got on well because he loves music,” said Sir Howard. “So I gave him a collection of mine, which he appreciated very much. Onwards and upwards, and then I asked him if he was keen to come back to encourage more Polynesian and Maori to come into the game, because he’s a role model, of course.

“He was quite flattered by that and said he would definitely be available, as long as we did things right. I don’t know how the hell we take it from there, but I thought perhaps we could get some finance from the corporate sector.”

Their chat was interrupted by the appalling Bev Walker. Sir Howard: “I didn’t know who the hell he was, but I could see he was looking after his interests as minder-cum-manager, I couldn’t work out which. That was for him to figure it out. But what I got from George Best was that he would definitely be available. The fact was that he was responding to the conversation without looking in that man’s direction.

“All I got from the other guy when he took me aside was, ‘Just understand there’s a few things we don’t like about this visit’, and he moaned and groaned about this, that, and the other thing. I said, ‘Oh well, I’ll just leave it and go through John Adshead.’”

While Sir Howard was staring down Best’s moaning agent, the Mad Butcher appeared. He looked like death. “I think I met you at the Sheraton,” he said, when we spoke a few days later. “Right. Well, mate, I was fucking sweating. I was perspiring, you know what I mean? Bit of a bug. I was fucking really sick, to be quite blunt with you.”

He had got out of his sickbed in response to an SOS call from his friend, Guy Cater. The ticket sales for Best’s tour were as sick as the Mad Butcher, and was there anything he could do that might help? “He was a friend in need. Mate, I laid the law down to him. I told him he was a hopeless prick.”

He also got straight on the phone and worked out a deal with radio network Primedial: free advertising in exchange for 50 per cent of ticket sales.

“Guy and his mate made a couple of mistakes,” said the Butcher. “But it’s very hard to promote George Best. Mate, you met the guy. For me personally, it was very sad to see him in that state. This walking legend. Now I’m not a big soccer man, but mate, fuck, I wanted to see George Best, I can tell you. And when I saw him I was disappointed.”

He also despatched Cater to drop off tickets at all his Mad Butcher outlets in Auckland and Hamilton. Cater did as instructed. “Then I drove back to do a show at the Fisherman’s Wharf. I would’ve given anything not to do it. But the moment I walked out – there were about 50 people there – George Best didn’t even exist. I think I only hypnotised five people but it was a marvellous night.”

 

Best had a terrible argument with his wife that night at the Sheraton. He was desperate to go gambling at Sky casino. She refused. Best eventually relented. “It’s more than my life’s worth,” he told Robson.

The next night, Mr and Mrs Best were given tickets to the Michael Jackson concert by Sony Records managing director Michael Glading.

“I sat next to George at the show,” Glading said. “I told him, ‘I’ve just met Michael Jackson, but I’ve got to tell you that it’s a bigger thrill meeting you.’ I tell you what – he was more talkative than Michael Jackson.”

Sony picked the Bests up from the Sheraton in a coach, and took them to Mt Smart. “It was an absolute nightmare on the way back,” said Glading. “As we were walking out of the stadium, his wife was playing the fool with him, and tripped him up.

“He fell flat on his face, got up, brushed himself off – and couldn’t see any Sony people anywhere! Paul [Ellis, from Sony] wasn’t paying any attention and we bloody lost him among 40,000 people! I’m thinking, ‘Holy shit! What sort of reputation am I going to get! Two years ago we nearly drowned [Pearl Jam singer] Eddie Vedder when he was here, and now I’ve lost George Best!’

“I sent people out to look for him but we couldn’t find him. The bus literally pulling out when we finally saw him. He wasn’t very happy with his wife.”

Robbie Robson had his own show that night, at the Weymouth Cosmopolitan Club. Bev Walker tagged along. “I must be good,” said Robson, with heavy sarcasm, “because on the way home, Bev was saying, ‘You sang this song very well and that song very well. But the rest was very middle of the road.’ Coming from Bev, it was a fucking incredible compliment. Nothing was good enough for that man.”

Guy Cater’s whereabouts that evening were in deepest Hamilton, on a poster run for Best’s Monday night engagement in Te Rapa. “Three o’clock in the morning and you’re putting up posters in Hamilton – that’s when you’re in the bottom of the entertainment pit.”

I had asked him on the Friday afternoon whether Te Rapa was selling more tickets than Tauranga, and he said, “Oh, yes. Two more. We’ve got 49 people coming.”

Sunday was a day of rest. But no one told Murray Deaker, who had scheduled an interview with Best on his Newstalk ZB sports show. He had already been stiffed earlier in the week, when Best was supposed to appear on Sky TV’s Deaker Profiles.

“He never turned up. I made fun of that at the Sheraton luncheon [Deaker was MC] but was assured he’d be on my ZB show. We rang and were given a Mickey Mouse excuse. It appeared to me that his management was ruin by people who didn’t know what they were doing.

“He finally rang in for about five minutes. And here’s a guy who still needed to sell tickets for a show that night! Good heavens above, an hour of prime-time radio could have sold him plenty! But it didn’t seem high on his list of priorities.

“If there isn’t a buck in it, I don’t think George Best would do anything. I firmly had that impression. It’s a dynamite combination, isn’t it, to put people who don’t know what they’re doing, with a guy who doesn’t want to do anything anyway.”

Inbetween his public speaking and getting lost at the Michael Jackson concert, did Best do anything with his time? “Not really,” said Guy Cater. “Drank. Watched TV. I think he wanted to hide from Bev.”

But Best was always completely sober before and during every show, including Sunday night’s performance at the Downtown Convention Centre. The food was good – fish and wedges – and Best told very good stories. “There’s a rumour that me and Bobby Charlton didn’t get on with each other. The fact that he’s a miserable fucker has got nothing to do with it.”

He was asked whether Manchester United players competed with each other on tour for how many women they could score. “That would’ve been a waste of time, because no fucker was going to beat me.”
Had life been good to him? He gave an alcoholic’s answer: “I can enjoy myself. I can have a good laugh and a couple of beers with the boys. I think it’s very important that you’re respected as one of the boys.”

There were 350 people in the audience. Good numbers, but it was already obvious the tour was going to make a loss. Robson claimed the airfares alone cost $20,000 (Best always travels first class.) Only 60 people bothered to attend Monday night’s VIP dinner in Auckland.

“But the meal was exquisite,” said Guy Cater. “It was the nicest night of the lot. We’d given up by then and didn’t give a fuck.”

They still had to suffer the last night of the tour, at Te Rapa.

 

“It’s funny,” said Robbie Robson. “You go and write, ‘Imagine George’s excitement as he looks forward to Te Rapa.’ Well, imagine our excitement to be in Te Rapa, with 70 people out in the audience, when there should have been seven friggin’ hundred.

“I’ll tell you now, it didn’t matter what we did, and we tried everything, but they wouldn’t fucking laugh, eh. They wouldn’t laugh, they wouldn’t clap, they were deadpan-faced. It was just so hard.”

Offstage, a drama was being played out by Bev Walker and a fellow called Gonzo, who wanted to film Best’s show for the Waikato University student station, Static TV. I called Gonzo at his home in the middle of the afternoon. He was in the bath. He said to phone back in an hour.

Sixty minutes later, he said, “Yeah, he [Bev Walker] was going to sue the arse off us and all that if we broadcast it. But I’m not worried about that. He’ll make us famous if he does.”

The Mad Butcher was watching in the wings. “Yeah, he [Bev Walker] was telling them about world rights and all this sort of bullshit. I said to them, ‘Wait till he leaves New Zealand, and just show the bloody thing.’ If the guy had have said anything to me, I would have told him to fuck off. In no uncertain terms.”

From the sands of Dubai to the blandlands of Te Rapa; and now the tour was over. “Oh, I thought it was marvellous,” said Sid Walker, who had acted as chauffeur. “One night towards the end, my partner and I went to the bar and presented him with – see, anybody who performs for us, we give them what we call the Golden Kiwi award. It’s a golden kiwi statue. We like to think they are scattered sitting on people’s mantelpieces all around the world. It was a very warm moment we had with him.”

Guy Cater said, “It was a lot of fun. But it cost us a lot of money which we don’t have. I think that sums it up. There were positive things as well. I mean, it’s either be positive, or go and slit your wrists.”

Robbie Robson said, “I’d just like to tell George Best fans that he’s the nicest man in the world. His wit, his charm, his charisma… Put it this way. We’re on their Christmas card list, and they’re on mine. We’ve got their home address, their telephone number; my kids are going to England next year and George and Alex have promised they’ll take them around London.”

Bev Walker said, “I couldn’t complain about the Auckland shows, but the two out of town ones – well, what can you say? There’s not a lot to be said. It didn’t make any logical sense to me…Tauranga was a real shock to the system. Having travelled all that way, suddenly to find that things did not work as well as we had been told, obviously there are question marks.”

Six days with George Best had cost Cater and Robson at least $50,000. The last time we spoke, they were somewhat shellshocked by a new, large bill for Best’s and Walker’s room service charges at the Sheraton.

Robson: “Guy said to him as we were going to the airport, ‘Have you settled the bill, Bev?’ And he turned around, and said, ‘I’ve done it, it’s all paid.’”

Cater: “Sometimes I’m too gullible. He told me he paid it, and I believed him.”

Robson: “At the airport, we said to Bev, ‘What about George’s bill?’ He got shitty and said he’d phone Guy from Kuala Lumpur and sort it all out. All I know is, we’ve been left with these two bills, and as far as I’m concerned it stinks over and above anything else for the simple fact that it’s a lie. We were lied to.”

Cater: “What it comes down to is, we were too nice. A lot of that’s my fault, I know.”

I put the room service matter to Bev Walker. After a long silence, he said, “I’m not sure how to answer that.”

Well, was their claim correct or not?

“Let’s put it this way. We should draw this discussion to an end. Because, quite frankly, there is no point in us going on.”

But a comment would restore balance to the claims.

“Well, I’m saying it is totally incorrect, a total load of rubbish. At this precise moment, they owe us several thousand dollars. Eighteen thousand, to be correct. So don’t you start telling me what,” he shouted down the phone, “because I think the best thing you can do is talk to my lawyers!” The interview finished with a threat.

 

You can’t keep a good man down, and Guy Cater is still keen to promote further tours. “We learned so much,” he said. “This is just the beginning. We will continue. People who weren’t taking us seriously at the beginning of the George Best thing – now they know our names.”

Robson said, “We’ve learned things for when we bring the likes of Johnny Mathis and Shirley Bassey.”

Then they showed me a document which outlined their latest venture – multilevel marketing. “You buy in for just $750 (includes GST). You then sell the plan to just six others,. They sell to six and they sell to six and they…etc. etc. You will sell seminar tickets. The seminars are on running your own business plus rest and relaxation… There are five levels, If your six stay with you the whole way through, you will have $2,862,000 in the bank!”

They aim to run four seminars including onboard a two-week cruise, where they will provide song and trance. “The emphasis is on having a ball,” said Robson. “We’ve performed at heaps of seminars and they’re all the same. They’re boring, mate! Ours will be different.”

Cater said, “You must not judge our new business on George Best.”

We were at the lobby bar in the Sheraton. Robson has just received as consignment of laminated business cards for their new venture. He fanned them out in front of Cater, and said, “It’s the biz!”

Postscript: George Best died in 2005 as a result of multiple organ failure brought on by his alcoholism. He was 59.

Previously: What the Word is on Christiano Ronaldo.

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