I found the group in the western arm of the subway. They had been joined by another two men, making six in total, and were standing (and sitting) against the wall, some talking, others drinking. I approached casually, switching on my dictaphone which was secreted in my jacket pocket. I had previously done no more than exchange idle pleasantries with the men, and I intended to take the discussion a stage further this time. My success was somewhat limited, but a conversation of sorts did ensue. I spoke principally to one man, who appeared to have assumed the role of group spokesperson. He was perhaps in his mid forties, and had been among the four encountered outside the video shop. A second man, not part of that original group, contributed to the conversation on a few brief occasions. He appeared to be a little younger, and spoke with a sharp Scottish accent. The remainder of the group were silent.
The full transcript of this conversation may be viewed here. (Note: This interview contains some bad language).
The most notable aspect of the conversation was that the name Peter Marlin appeared to mean nothing to the men. They gave every indication that they were hearing it for the very first time. The same could not be said of the phrase 'the PM man'. The instant I used it, my companions visibly stiffened and the atmosphere changed entirely. Although cagey from the outset, my mention of this phrase clearly hastened the end of the conversation, and it was immediately clear that from this point onwards, the men wanted no further part of this discussion.
This intrigued me. Clearly Marlin had achieved the status of a known individual, familiar to these men either personally or by reputation, yet his full name retained anonymity. It raised the possibility that perhaps I was the first to have heard it. Despite this, Marlin's label, 'the PM man', clearly held some power over those who knew it. It was difficult to gauge the precise emotion it evoked in these men, but my best guess would be fear. Fear to the extent that even to talk of the man would be a danger and a risk that none were prepared to take.
Significant weight would be added to this diagnosis just minutes later.
The interview over, I left the group in the underpass and made my way around past the south west exit and on to the south east corner by the Victoria pub. Ignoring the steps, I instead took the slope up onto Civic Drive. As I headed up out of the subway, I heard the startling sound of hurried footsteps behind me. My dictaphone was still running.
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