Featuring interviews with those close to the "Geordie Godfather" who was gunned down in a gangland hit, this book is the follow up to "Viv (Graham) - 'Simply the Best'". It reveals stories of Graham's life and of his murder, and includes a comparison between nightclubs in Liverpool and Newcastle. A look at the underworld in the Candy Rock Seaside resort of Blackpool.
mayhem, drugs, violence and sex form the backdrop to this modern-day tale
of life in the crime-ridden underbelly of Newcastle. Based on a true story,
this is a book about the rise and fall of the late Viv Graham. From Lands
End to John O’Groats, no city, town or village is without someone who’s
carved out a name for themselves. Newcastle is no different — London has
the Krays and Lenny McLean (The Guv’nor), and the North East had Viv Graham
and Lee Duffy.
Starting out as a doorman in the rural outskirts of the city, he unwittingly becomes entangled in the chaotic quagmire of disorganized crime. After Viv impresses the local under boss by beating up a big-time gangster, he is catapulted to the next level —Newcastle City Centre. There he begins to earn enough money to afford his two favourite obsessions — gambling and women. Three women to be exact: a blonde (Anna), a brunette (Gillian) and a redhead (Julie). It’s like one big happy harem — until they find out about each other. Viv bets on anything — dogs. horses, football and fights (and when he doesn’t know the fighters, he chooses his bet by the colour of the boxer's shorts!) He is on a rollercoaster ride and enjoying every minute of it, but he doesn’t realize where the ride is taking him.
Viv’ s infamy attracts the attention of a notorious West End crime family who control most of the drug flow in the city. They try to put him on their payroll. Viv is a lean, mean, fighting machine, but he’s insecure about his physique. At fourteen stone he doesn’t match up to the beef-cakes of Newcastle - so he experiments with steroids and balloons to eighteen stone. However the side effects of the steroids, coupled with Viv’ s new-found strength, become too much for him and he nearly kills a late-night drinker. Luckily, the drinker survives, and Viv only receives a suspended sentence. Viv is changing from a man who wants to make pubs and clubs safer for everyone to a bully who strikes fear into the very hearts of the people whom he’s supposed to protect.
Soon he’s back in the headlines again — this time for pummelling a bouncer at Hobos nightclub. For this misguided action, Viv receives a three-year jail sentence. While in prison Anna and Julie temporarily break up with him when they find out about each other, leaving only Gillian, who has just given birth to their second son. Viv is well received by the prison community, and further enhances his reputation by quelling a cellblock riot. Meanwhile Tyneside is burning with riots of its own.
Once again a free man, Viv decides to break all ties with past allies and fly his own flag in the East End. With the help of Peter (Anna’s brother), Viv becomes a trouble shooter/minder for pubs and clubs, expanding his business from a few licensees to quite a little empire.
Just as fast as he’s raking in the money, he and Anna are spending it — they both crave the high life and the odd bet or two. Anna and Viv try to out do each other when it came to blowing cash — easy come, easy go. Neither plan for the future, believing their good fortune will last forever. Viv has to hide behind the settee when a debt collector calls — he had £30,000 in a bag the day before, but now it was all gone.
Eventually Viv’s concerns begin to interfere with those of the aforementioned West End crime family. They want to expand their thriving drug enterprise and the anti-drug Viv is in the way. The mobsters enlist the help of a heavy to eliminate Viv in a winner takes all bare-knuckle fight, but the plan fails when Viv is warned about an ambush and doesn’t show. The daily pressure of the “big time” starts to take its toll. Death threats become the norm, and he suffers from frequent headaches. “I’ll not see 40,” Viv says, predicting his own untimely death. Viv stumbles onto the tiger’s back and finds he can’t dismount.
Viv and Anna purchase a new house outside of Newcastle, and he tries to legitimize his business. For the most part his reputation enables him to sit back at home, while his delegates deal with the actual problems. He spends a lot of time in a local pub, the Queens Head (rumour has it he had an interest there). A band of locals take an immediate dislike to Viv. One of them is connected to the West End crime family, and on a dare, they plot Viv’s murder. “Viv no more for 94”
On New Year’s
Eve 1993, as Viv leaves the Queens Head, three shots echo through the merriment
of the night. Viv is grounded. He summons what is left of his strength,
and drags his body back to the pub. As he lies dying on the pavement, he
asks his friend to lift him to his feet. “I can’t let them see me like
this,” he says. One last fight.
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