If anything, it’s even harder to convince Emma Chappell to talk to me than it was Sussex. Eventually, she agrees to meet me in a backstreet pub in Swansea. When I arrive, she’s already there, sitting at a table in the back, out of the way. She looks about 30, dressed in long flowing skirts and a loose velvety top dyed several shades of green and blue. With the ways she’s dressed and her long red hair, it’d be easy to mistake her for some kind of hippy new ager, all beads and bangles and peace and love. But the look she gives me is flinty, and has nothing of the hippy about of it.
“Let’s get one thing straight before we start, I only agreed to meet you in order to get you to fuck off and stop bothering me. I don’t want to tell you my story. Real people don’t have fucking stories.” She slumps back a little.
“Look, I don’t even know why I’m here. My editor just gave me your name, and said I should find you and talk to you. I haven’t got clue one what your story is, and frankly, I’m just doing this because my editor told me to. So how’s about you cut me a little slack, and we just try and make the best of this?” After Sussex, I’m through pissing around.
Her expression softens a bit. Only a bit, though. “OK then. Just as long as we’re clear: I don’t want to answer any personal questions. If you push things, well, I’ve got friends in here, and they’ll make you leave if I want them to. First things first, though. Back in a moment.”
She pulls a silver topped ebony cane out from under the table, and hobbles off to the bathroom, leaning on it heavily. I hadn’t noticed the stick, and it rather takes me by surprise.
She rejoins me short while later, after stopping at the bar on the way back. She sets down a pint before settling herself into the seat and returning the stick to wherever she was hiding it under the table.
“Go on, then.”
“Right. D’you know why my editor might have wanted me to talk to you?”
“Depends. How well is he plugged in to the old boy network?”
I’m forced to admit that yes, he’s about the oldest boy I’ve ever met.
“Then yes, I can guess why he wanted you to talk to me.” If any warmth had crept into her tone, it’s gone again. “Did he give you my number?”
“No, he didn’t. Said he didn’t know it.”
“Then how did you get it?” She looks worried, now.
“I’m a journalist. Wouldn’t be much good if I couldn’t find the odd phone number, here and there, would I?”
“Don’t piss me about, you little fuck. How did you get my number?” She leans in toward the table, looking murderous. What kind of assignment has my editor sent me on?
“Jesus! It’s not fucking impossible, you know. I know people at BT and your phone’s in your name. There aren’t many Emma Chappell’s in Swansea…”
She doesn’t let up. “Have you told anyone else my number? My address?”
Christ, what have I walked into the middle of? “No. No, I haven’t.”
“Good. I’ll be leaving town when we’re done here, so it’s no good telling anyone where I live.”
“OK. Enough with the spookshow bullshit. What the fuck is going on here?”
“None of your fucking business. You’ve managed to shit all over my life in search of your bastard story, and I’m not telling you word one about what’s going on.”
“But, you wanted an interview. So go on, ask the questions.”
By this time, I’ve given up. I’m not even going to bother with the ‘What’s your favourite colour?’ routine. I switch the tape recorder off.