| Peter Bleach with Jo Fletcher at Heathrow airport. (AFP)
London, Feb. 7: Standing in the windswept garden of his mother’s bungalow in Brompton-by-Sawdon near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, Peter Bleach was today missing Calcutta — well, sort of.
“It’s bloody cold here,” he quipped.
More seriously, he requested The Telegraph, “which I read in prison”, to pass on a message to the people of India. “I have no chips on my shoulder,” he said. “I have nothing against the people of India. I was badly treated by some prison officers in Calcutta but so were a lot of Indians.”
Bleach, who is back in Britain after receiving an Indian presidential pardon, got to his 83-year-old mother, Oceana, just before midnight on Friday and spent till 5 am on Saturday catching up on eight lost years.
“It was a very emotional time for her,” he said, speaking on a mobile phone from his mother’s garden. “It’s windy out here.”
The 52-year-old former arms dealer has protested his innocence and vowed to clear his name. He said he would be willing to make a return trip to India, especially if his appeal pending before the high court in Calcutta fails. “If I don’t succeed before the high court, I will go to the Supreme Court.”
Curiously, he added that “I have now spoken to the Russians”, who are apparently also going to pursue an appeal on behalf of the five Latvians who were released after President Vladimir Putin’s intervention.
For the time being, Bleach, who is said to be “penniless”, is adjusting to life in Britain. He intends to stay for the time being with his mother. Driving up to her bungalow last evening, Bleach experienced typical English conditions. “The weather and the traffic were horrible,” said Jo Fletcher, his close friend.
Fletcher, a former News of the World reporter who now works for Orion Books in London, said she would help Bleach write a book about his time in India.
Referring to a man called Ian Drury, she said: “My partner is also a publisher.”
She made it clear there was no chance of resuming her old relationship with Bleach, with whom she said she had split up before his arrest in India.
Bleach said today he found it “wonderful” to go for a walk in his mother’s beautiful garden — “there was no one to stop me”. But one thing unnerved him — “finding the keys hanging on the inside”.