an authority on rock’n’roll

One of the greatest obituary writers of all time was Hugh Massingberd. This is what he had to say about Lord Moynihan

image found here

His chief occupations were bongo-drummer, confidence trickster, brothel-keeper, drug-smuggler and police informer, but ‘Tony’ Moynihan also claimed other areas of expertise – as ‘professional negotiator’, ‘international diplomatic courier’, ‘currency manipulator‘ and ‘authority on rock and roll’.

image found here

If there was a guiding principle to Moynihan’s life, it was to be found on the wall of his office in Manila, where a brass plaque bore the legend, ‘Of the 36 ways of avoiding disaster, running away is the best.’

Moynihan learnt this lesson at an early stage. The first time he ran away was in 1956, to Australia. There were two reasons for his flight. The first was to elude his father’s fury over a liaison with a Soho night-club waitress.

Soho nightclub found here

The second was to escape his wife, an actress and sometime nude model; they had married secretly the previous year, and she had now taken out a summons against him for assault. Her father had made a similar complaint – ‘I regret to say I gave him a swift right upper cut,’ Moynihan announced from Australia.

The idea was that he should work on his uncle’s sheep farm in the bush, but after five days he ran away to Sydney, where he made his debut as a banjo-player and met a Malayan fire-eater’s assistant who was to become his second wife.

image found here

The next year he returned to London, where he effected a reconciliation with his first wife and found a job as manager of the Condor, a Soho nightclub. The job did not last, and in 1958 he married the former fire-eater’s assistant, by now a belly-dancer working under his management.

Not this belly dancer

Soon after the wedding he made his first court appearance, accused of the larceny of two bedsheets. He was found not guilty, but as he walked from the court he was presented with another summons, this one over a lease. It was time to run away again.

With his new bride, Moynihan moved to Ibiza to set up a nightclub; when this failed he left his partner to pick up the pieces and fled to the mainland, before returning home once more.

His next venture was a coffee bar called El Toro, with a Spanish bull-fighting theme, at premises in Beckenham, Kent. But that, too, failed, so Moynihan set off with his wife on a belly-dancing tour of Europe and the Far East.

Manolete, the bullfighter found here

In Tokyo he challenged an American journalist who had disparaged his wife’s dancing; the critic elected martinis or cold noodles as weapons. In 1960s London Moynihan cut a rather ridiculous figure in kaftans, and worked for a time for Peter Rachman, the slum landlord, driving his maroon Rolls Royce.

After he succeeded his father in the peerage in 1965 Moynihan took the Liberal Whip in the House of Lords, where he was principally concerned in arguing that Gibraltar be given to Spain. The House was not impressed.

In 1968 Lord Boothby interrupted one of Moynihan’s speeches: ‘The noble Lord has bored us stiff for nearly three-quarters of an hour. I beg to move that he no longer be heard.’

Moynihan’s business career and personal finances had meanwhile given rise to a number of misunderstandings. By 1970 he faced 57 charges – among them fraudulent trading, false pretences, fraud against a gaming casino and the purchase of a Rolls Royce with a worthless cheque. To avoid disaster he fled once more, this time to Spain.

Rolls Royce motor-home found here

‘I knew of my impending arrest 48 hours in advance,’ he claimed. ‘I’d been approached by a CID man who told me that for £50,000 the case against me would be dropped. Because I believe in God and England I told him to get stuffed.’

His extradition was sought from Spain, but he disappeared, to resurface the next year in the Philippines. In 1968 he had married for a third time – another belly-dancer, this one a Filipino – and the new Lady Moynihan’s family had a chain of massage parlours in Manila, where Moynihan remained for much of the rest of his life.

As the 1970s wore on Moynihan found employment in the narcotics trade, as well as in fraud and prostitution. The first hint of this came in 1980, when he was named by an Australian Royal Commission as an associate of Sydney’s ‘Double Bay Mob’, engaged in the import of heroin from Manila.

No charges were brought, however, and Moynihan continued his life as a Filipino pimp under the patronage of President Marcos – ‘my drinking chum,’ as he called him. At one stage he ran a brothel within 100 yards of the British Ambassador’s residence.

Grandson of President Marcos found here

After the coup against Marcos in 1986, Moynihan’s position became exposed, and the next year he was forbidden to leave the Philippines pending investigations of his links with drugs and prostitution.

He was then vulnerable to pressure from Scotland Yard and the American Drugs Enforcement Agency to help them catch Howard Marks, a Balliol man who at that time controlled an estimated sixth of the global market in marijuana, and with whom he was already on friendly terms.

image found here

He approached Marks with a bogus offer to sell him an island in the Philippines, on which he could grow marijuana; and in return for his own immunity agreed to wear a secret tape-recorder to ensnare his friend.

Marks was convicted in Florida, with Moynihan as chief witness for the prosecution. The DEA gave him refuge and protection in the United States for a time, and hailed him as ‘a hero, one of the good guys’. Marks saw things differently. ‘I feel terribly betrayed,’ he said. ‘He’s a first-class bastard.’

In Manila, to which he returned after his sojourn in America, Moynihan had as his base in the city a brothel named the Yellow Brick Road. ‘I just sit back and collect the money,’ he said. ‘The girls do all the work.’

Real Yellow Brick Road found here

He frequently spoke of returning to England – ‘to clear my name,’ as he put it. ‘I miss things like decent roast beef and good newspapers, the civilised way of life.’

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58 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. a chain of massage parlours in Manila, where Moynihan remained for much of the rest of his life.

    Don’t you just love a “happy ending?”

  2. Now I can’t wait until someone does something to offend me, so I can challenge them to a duel with martinis or cold noodles.

    • Martinis for me please

  3. I was waiting for the inevitable bloodbath but you surprised me, Nursie. So I am deciding now that occasionally, crime does pay and very well too.

    • He sounds like a right tosser though doesn’t he?

      • A thorough rat-bag!

  4. I’d opt for the martini, drink it and use the toothpick sans olive as my duelling weapon. Moynihan was a low life living the high life.

  5. For some strange reason, the song “Run Runaway” by Slade is rambling through my head.

    Amazing what money can do for you. Or fast legs.

    • For some reason I am now singing the words “Run Runaway” to the music of Come Sail Away by styx.

  6. I really want that motor-home … good find young Nursey

  7. what a scum bucket! makes me want to go back in time and throw him down a well…

  8. He gives decent roast beef a bad name!

  9. It got better and better after he snuffed it, with three boys all claiming the baronetcy: one was found to be not his son at all, another was declared illegitimate by virtue of a bigamous marriage, and the third came up on the rails to snatch it. Step forward Colin Moynihan, sometime MP and Minister for Sport in the UK, and current British Olympic Association chairman.

    • I didn’t know any of that Affer, thanks!

      • Fabulous!

  10. What a piece of excrement he was. Definitely better off in the grave

  11. Howard Mark’s summing-up sounds about right.

  12. That nightclub looks ridiculously interesting!
    I think I might have been thrown out of there, once.
    Okay, not really… but if I had been it would tie in very nicely with my comment from your last post. :)

  13. “I miss the civilised way of life” – ironic statement of the decade. Hard to detect even a milligram of civilised behaviour in his scruple-free existence. But I’ll bear in mind that very useful advice if I’m ever in a tight spot – “Of the 36 ways of avoiding disaster, running away is the best.”

    • “36 Ways To Avoid Disaster” was a very big hit for Paul Simon once.

  14. What a creep!

  15. A renowned rogue of the times.

    • And I bet he never washed a quilt in his life ;-)

      • :)

  16. Run, run, runaway!

  17. I wonder what the other 35 ways are…

    • Yes. It’s got me stumped….

      • Slip out the back, Jack … make a new plan, Stan, there’s no need to be coy, Roy …

  18. Never knew there was a real yellow brick road. People think the streets in America are paved with gold. Don’t believe it. It’s all in the pockets of the megabanks and megacorps.

    • People think live kangaroos hop down the streets of Sydney too.

  19. gad. i hate it when my position becomes exposed.

  20. I also move never to hear him again, and I don’t even know him.

  21. I always read the obituaries in the paper. That’s the first section that go to.

  22. Did you go on vacation this year?

    • Not yet. New York and Chicago in July.

      • WOW!
        Safe journey!

      • Shall I take the train down to meet you?

      • Yes Yes Yes…. please do!

      • Lovely Nursie – have a great time!

  23. Good grief, he was a cad and bounder of the first order! Larceny of bedsheets, LMAO!

    • I loved that line, hilarious isn’t it?

      • Perhaps he had a pressing engagement, the bounder.

        The King

      • ;-)

  24. I am one of the few individuals who can lay claim to breaking the nose of a bullfighter while in the pursuit of his labour. It was my first bullfight, my first trip to Spain come to that. The score was Bullfighter 1 Bull 0. I merely evened the score when he clambered upon the wooden rails to impress the young lady I was with at the time.

    We both lost the girl due to my actions, but it was worth it. Get it up yis Pedro! regards fae Glasgow, where both of the opposition have sharp knives to make the fight fair.

    • Ah Jimmy, you have an endless supply of stories don’t you? I’ll have to visit you in Glasgow some day

      • Please do, it’s your round.

  25. Ibiza is one of my favourite places on earth. The vibe is palpable.

    My brother in law rented the house that Charlie Ward ended up buying, a week later.

    • Charlie Ward the DJ?

  26. Massingberd certainly was a wordsmith.

  27. Do the rest of the world’s broadsheet newspapers write obits. as well as the British press? They’re often the best read in the paper because they don’t tend to feature the most obvious candidates from the pool of the recently deceased.

    I’ve also heard there’s a set of stock double entendres used in obits. such as…

    Always the life and soul of the party = an alcoholic
    A confirmed bachelor = a closet homosexual

  28. His son, Colin, was a Government minister :-( Colin was a very short man

  29. Nice blog

  30. Love this!

  31. A belly-dancing tour? Yes, please.

  32. Interesting fella, this, Mr. “Oz”


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