Exchanges From the Curb: Harry Hodgson the Helly Hansen-Haricot

By Jamie Snoll on at

This week I am going to look at the relatively easy route to becoming a full-time dealer; looking back at my first real contact in the business, and also answering a few questions from the previous week's column, before getting on to this week's episode.

Can I get a hook up?
Yes you can, if you can get hold of a dealer's number.

Just give me cheese?

Come on, variety is the spice of life -- I love cheese, but it is a heavy-weight bit of gear. After I have been on "the cheese" for a few weeks, it feels like I am in a constant dopey fog. For me, cheese is the ideal choice when you have nothing to do for a few days and want to get as “lean” as possible. Lemon Haze on the other hand is a little bit lighter, more uplifting: I would say a more enjoyable high, if I'm honest.

That being said, I remember the days when “green” was unavailable and I had great nights tucking into a small amount of “solid” with mates, thinking it was amazing; giggling our arses off while Jimbo rummaged through draws in his mum's garage while relentlessly reeling off business ideas that would make him a millionaire overnight.

My personal favourite business idea Jimbo had, and one he still thinks has legs, was the magnifying-glass fag and fire lighter (his main selling point was that it would never run out of gas); unfortunately he did not have an answer for using it in the evening or in the cloudy weather we are used to here in Blighty.

What tech do I use to "do" my job?

There are a few essentials:

An accurate set of scales; these are vital to weigh up what you have bought to make sure you got what you paid for, and to weigh up what you are about to sell.

Mobile phone: this is by far the thing I use the most, with so many contacts in my phone, I would be lost without it. I'm using the Samsung Galaxy S2 at the moment; it's a great phone in my opinion: thin, really lightwieght and with a massive screen; what more could you want?

Xbox 360: if there is a better way to lose an afternoon, please let me know. It also acts as easy entertainment if my less-talkative clients pop by; we can easily kill an hour button-mashing whatever game I have spinning around that day, rather than me killing him in frustration at his social awkwardness.

One reader asked last week, what sort of profits you can make on an ounce?

Well it all depends on how many ounces you bought in the first case. Back in the day when I was starting out, an ounce cost around £120. I would then split that into nine bags; about 3.1 per bag. I would sell these as 1/8s, so the maximum profit I would make of my original £120 investment would be £60 (plus the £120 back), but what I used to forget to factor in was that I would be smoking between one and two £20 bags per ounce. Although the skunk I smoked appeared to be free of charge, I was in fact smoking 66 per cent of my profit.

As I have mentioned before, the normal way to get started in this business is due to consumption, then to build up from dealing small bits and making very little profit, if any at all, after feeding the habit. In my early days, I was running around, picking up for mates, buying half here and getting whatever I shared off the top for free.

But this quickly became a hassle; I was doing all the leg work, and for what? So I decided to buy my own little bit, just an ounce, then two; quickly selling all I had to an ever-expanding base of friends. I soon discovered that my dealer was struggling to keep up with my increasing orders; Dave the dealer was used to taking orders for ounces at most. I need more -- I needed a number!

When you move up in weight, this is generally where you will deal with a different set; you know them already, they are not mafia-like or hidden away in fortified houses. They are most likely in a pub having a beer, or at work, but they are making extra cash -- tax-free and with little hassle.

My first step up the ladder did not take me far from home.

Dave (Big Dave) offered to call his “mate” to see if it was alright for me to meet him; as a young lad this seemed very tense and important. Dave put the phone to his ear, then shuffled out of the kitchen and into the hallway. With the TV on behind me, I had to strain to hear what was being said:

“Alright, Harry?” Dave asked, sounding very happy before a long pause.

“Yeah, might be up there laters to see yers,” a less happy-sounding Dave replied before another long pause. “I was just wondering if my mate could pop over and see you about a...”

Cutting Dave off, Harry then seemed to talk for ages, and unfortunately, I could hear nothing other than a few bellows from the phone. I thought the wait could mean only one thing: bad news. Maybe Dave was not the best contact? Maybe he owed Harry money? And who was this Harry? And most importantly, was he going to sort me out? These questions were about to be answered.

Dave quickly ended the conversation; walked back into the kitchen and signalled for me to sit down, without realising I had walked to the door to hear their conversation.

“Yeah Jam, ‘ere is his number; he said call him in a bit.” I felt so relieved I quickly took the number then did a double and triple check of the digits, happy I had the correct number for the so-far-mysterious Harry.

I called it straight away, and was met with a gruff voice.

“You Dave’s mate?”

“Err...yeah,” I replied in a nervous stuttering way, like meeting the missus’ family for the first time.

“You're quick; why do you hang around with that fat cu*t, ha ha haaa!” Harry's bellowing laugh sounded familiar.

“So, what do you want?” Harry stabbed the words out, and luckily, I knew the answer to that, so blurted out “a 9bar.” Pause...then added a "please,” as manners cost nothing.

“Meet me in the Dog and Dagger in 20 minutes.”

Christ that was easy; I had no doubt at the time that it was a good idea.

The Dog and Dagger was not my local, but I knew the place -- the over-21 age limit had not been an issue since I was 15 in there. Most importantly, I knew the Harry whose number I had been given. I say I knew him -- like so many others, I knew of him; had said “ello mate” as I passed him on previous nights spent in the same pub. I had heard he “banged a bit out” but did not know him well enough to ask, nor knew if the knowledge I had been given standing around the “fruity” was accurate or true. In one of Jay's stories, Harry had hired a boat and sailed to Holland to pick up 500kg of white widow, but even to my untrained ears, that sounded a little far-fetched.

Harry Hodgson (name changed; initials kept the same).

Harry was/is short; he would claim to be 5’9", but was nowhere near. Stocky and clearly with a little bit of muscle, but the beer gut was hefty and growing year-on-year. His hair short, smart and always a bit of stubble on his chin. He prided himself on his appearance; often dressing far too smart for the boozers he drank in. Harry was a nice bloke, handy apparently (Jay‘s stories again), but I had never seen it. All the young girls knew him and his friendly generosity with rounds of drink; he was the flash mid-30s-type when I first had dealings with him.

He was never happier than when he was wearing Helly Hansen gear; the double HH emblazoned on many of his checked shirts, t-shirts and jackets.

“HH, that’s named after me, HAHA HA HA” Harry said that every time he wore a bit of the brand (which was most days). The fact is, he said it to the same 8 to 14 people every time, and every time they would feel obliged to laugh at his quip.

I remember walking into the pub, armed with almost £800. I was ready for business -- £800, that with a bit of patience and graft, I would be able to turn into over £1,200, plus smoke a load myself too.

I was squeaky-bum worried as I looked around for Harry before sitting at the bar and ordering a pint; everybody in the pub looked like an undercover police officer, although I now know the police don't have the time for undercover activities; they are far too busy getting saucy with smack-heads (just kidding Matt).

Harry strolled into the bar shortly after me; a swagger that made him seem taller. Maybe that’s the 3 inches he adds on, I thought.

“Alright darling,” Harry smiled towards the bar-maid, a little wink in her direction followed.

“Alright Jamie,” Harry obviously knew my name, resulting in shining a proud beam of warmth around my heart.

“Where’s Dave; the fucking prick hahahahahah...”

“He didn't come as...he had something to do.” My nervousness was obvious.

“Yeah fu*king avoid seeing me, that is, ha ha ha ha ha..." I had to laugh along, although I knew no joke had been told; I was stuttering like Garth Gates on my previous response. It seemed so important at the time that Harry liked me. Harry liked to laugh, so I laughed. Harry then began to talk about anything and everything, pointing out what he owned / fixed / bought / knocked-off or sorted-out, while name-dropping everyone from a famous footballer to Frank the landlord.

A pint was quickly deposited in front of Harry and the young barmaid disappeared; paid only with a wink and “cheers darlin.“ He then took the biggest gulp I had ever seen, followed by a second, meaning half the pint was swiftly gone. Interrupting our chat, Harry then called over his mate and began to shoot the breeze about some pub “business”. A glass had been thrown the night before; it was a big deal apparently, but my focus had stayed on why I was there, listening to the conversation but thinking over in my head what I had to do. I was nervous as f*ck.

My beer was going as quickly as Harry’s, through the constant little sips I was taking to fill the time while Harry and his mate went into extreme detail about the minor ruckus the night before, with Harry declaring:

“I WILL FU*KING BAR THE MUGS!” Harry seemed serious but held no official position in the pub other than as the loudest regular who once sorted out the pubs fences, and would never let the landlord Frank forget.

“Right, what do you want then?”

“A, a, a, nine bat please...” My voice trailed off.

“A what??? Hahahahahahaha.” Bloody hell, Harry laughed a lot and I felt I had to join in even though technically, he was laughing at me.

“Do you want a pint, Harry?”

“That’s kind of you, but I can't as I'm driving...fu*k it, get me a lager top.” My offer seemed to work, as he stopped laughing at me and seemed genuinely appreciative of me buying him a shandy.

3 more lager tops later, Harry had someone spent the entire time proclaiming how the shandies are the future, and not at all “gay”. I then found myself being bundled into Harry’s BMW, as he bragged about the features, all top of the range or better as we drove to his mate's house. His mate's house was apparently "the mutts." Harry was very positive about everything he owned (or even didn't own directly himself); everything was the nuts; the bollocks, or the fu*king tits.

Harry pulled up outside a very normal-looking semi, slowly pulled himself out of his Beamer; ran in and ran out again, carrying a large bag on his way out. I say "ran"; Peter Kay’s dad's run would best describe the effort, if I'm honest.

Falling heavily into his bucket seat, he then threw the bag into my lap.

“Ere you go, that’s what you want -- it’s the fucking nuts.” Harry beamed a smile as he put his seatbelt in the clip; started the car up, and pulled away quickly, driving straight back to the pub where he would remain for the rest of the evening. As we pulled up, I opened the door and quickly hopped out. Harry had taken a call from his wife on the drive back and was in the middle of telling herwhere he was about to price up a job and would be late back. He made it seem like he was doing her a favour by "working," and even kindly offered to go to the pub for dinner so she would not have to cook again after feeding herself and the kids. A true gent.

“Oi!” Harry called me back, as I started opening the car door.

“Cheers mate,” I had forgotten to say thank-you; how rude.

“Do you want that on tick then?” I can't believe I started opening the car door without giving him the cash.

“I have the money; well most of it...” My nerves were back; all I wanted to do was get home and put this amazing stash in my wardrobe (although my mum was now fully aware of my cash-making activities and was trying to live with them, I still tried to pretend I was her good little boy and tried to keep my activities as hidden as possible...which as it turns out wasn‘t very discreet at all).

“Pop the money to me up ‘ere laters if you have it,” Harry slowly laboured out of his ridiculously-low BMW still grinning from ear to ear. As I walked away from his car, I suddenly turned into the cat who had the cream -- a big bag of sticky smelly cream. Home to test the produce, I thought to myself.

Later that night, I returned to the pub around 8pm dazed and confused; my eyes bloodshot, but extremely happy. I found Harry, holding his audience's attention with a slew of jokes, stories and bellowing laughs. When he spotted me, he gestured the traditional sign for a pint, and I quickly nodded and joined his group. Harry introduced me to everyone as if we were firm friends; a nerve-racking experience when you are as stoned as I was. Harry was so welcoming, I could definitely see why he was always referred to as Uncle Harry by the young girls. After the introductions, Harry continued with his usual array of jokes, stories and George Best quotes.

A few pints in, Harry put his arm around me.

“You got that money for me, then?”

I produced a little over £700 out of my pocket; I was a bit short and did not know how to pass it over, unsure if the barmaid / land lord / CCTV was watching.

“I will have the rest in a few days; I am just waiting for a mate to pay me.” Shit, even I used the same shit excuses.

“Give it 'ere you mug, ha ha ha.” Harry took the money in the least subtle fashion possible and quickly fanned through it; not really counting it, just a quick skim-read of the Queen's forehead before stuffing it in his back pocket.

“When you have got rid of that lot pay me up, and we can see about sorting you out with some more.” Harry was all smiles and I felt happy -- I had what I wanted; could see myself making cash, and most of all Harry, wasn't nearly as scary as I has originally thought.

As a young lad he seemed to have it all -- firstly the normal things, wife; kids; his own business; a house, and nice motor. He had the gear; the clobber; the watch and the shoes, and even though he was short and becoming fatter by the day, he was so incredibly confident -- in his mind, he was George Clooney. The young girls my age all loved him to bits, and the barmaids waited on him hand and foot. Mostly he had a crowd; he had people around him and access to anything he could want. As a lad, this was everything I wanted, and more -- he was a role model, to be sure.

I would love to say there was a happy ending for him. Don't misunderstand me, he's not dead (yet); I still see him around occasionally; he moved across town after he split up with his wife. She hated him by all accounts; he was in the pub six nights a week, and the work had sadly dried up yet he carried on the same, drinking while his business rotted. Nowadays, things are a little tighter. Especially his Helly Hansen jeans and t-shirts.

He drinks in a pub close to his new home; it's the same sort of place, same sort of crowd. Maybe a bit nicer, but Harry is still Harry -- he is still as loud, and still telling the same stories although the crowd is a little smaller these days, and laugh a little less.

The barmaids now also wince at his advances; without a wife at home, those winks and flirtations are now more sinister and real. The young girls still accept his drinks, but well into his 40s, he is no longer the slightly-too-old guy, and now the way-too-old fat-guy.

Harry was a character I enjoyed dealing with. He was a mate; spent time with his family; knew his wife really well, and I think that if I could have worked with him for longer, it would have been a lot more fun. But as profits got a little bigger, and Harry finding it harder and harder to drag himself free of his car, I harassed him to give me a few of his contacts, as I was going pro.

As you move up, the crowd changes -- now I was going to be dealing with the plastic gangsters; a group so impressed with their own operation they will happily watch Scarface and tell Tony where he could have improved his business. But I did not care; I knew what I wanted: to sell as much weed as possible, and live the “phat” lifestyle I thought I so deserved. There was going to be no rat race for me; I had a better way to make it, I was sure of this.

****

Jamie Snoll is a pseudonym for a drug-dealer born and bred in Essex, who offers up a view from the different side of the law to our Friday columnist Matt Delito. Check back this Friday for Matt’s next episode.

Image Credit: Drug-dealer via Shutterstock / anonymous via Shutterstock