‘Dirty Den’


Imagine someone of the type we call ‘daft as a brush‘ in common parlance.

Dennis was a strange-looking fellow with a very odd nature. He had a groggy way of talking, never convincing – he portrayed a dopey, dense, depressing outlook on things in general. Totally unconvincing when talking about his ideas and plans. He most certainly was not the brightest star in the sky.

So unconvincing his honesty and integrity would be called into question. 

Dennis wore a white coat to make out he knew what he was talking about.

In fact he knew nothing about anything to do with electronics.

Dopey Dennis had a surname Hart, he didn’t have a heart – he would go to peoples homes with a device that looked like a pen with a red light on it.  At one end of the pen was a pin metal spike, and at the other a wire leading to a crocodile clip. If you touched the pin spike and the crocodile clip together, the red light would come on. He used this device to mesmerise unsuspecting folk in their homes. He would knock on their door and, under the guise of diagnosing what was wrong with their TV sets, he’d prod around with his pen and on would come the light. He’d tell them that their TV set was in fatal trouble and needed to be taken away for MAJOR repairs, which he’d charge way over the odds for. When there was nothing wrong with their TV set in the first place.

Dennis went through periods where he  was down on his luck, wise people in their homes were unconvinced with his scam and word of mouth was spreading. He’d have to go further a field attempting to enchant normal people as they went about their evenings, keeping warm and watching television.

Dennis took an interest in a guy who had a production line of plinths and covers, amplifiers and tuners. This guy ‘cut to the chase,’ no ‘beating around the bush’ he said put an advert up selling “‘your’ items” at slightly lower prices than everyone else’s and bingo “Bob’s your uncle,” © Lord Salisbury and “Fanny’s your Aunt.”

Dishonest Dennis, was in his element, advertising an array -a phenomenal range of products, none of which he stocked in his questionable premises in Dalston Lane   

Within days of the advert ‘Dirty Den’ had reams of envelopes dropping onto the dirt ridden floor of his junk store. A shop without a brush for sweeping – full of TV’s he’d taken away from people after detecting a make believe technical error.

Thousands of pounds was arriving through his letterbox.

This was in 1976. Nowadays, this would be tens of thousands of pounds. The guy who advised him to do the  advert, informed him about a wholesaler – Dallas at Edgware Road, Central London.

Dopey Dennis was potless before the advert. He went to Dallas and negotiated good terms and met plenty of like minded suppliers and wholesalers.  He built favourable relationships, brokering with a 2.5 per cent discount for settling with cash.

He was earning the equivalent of £200 a week by mesmerising people with cock-and-bull stories of MAJOR technical issues with their TV sets.

The cash flow was £15,000 within a fortnight. With his “Audio Supplies” business.

Dennis’s character and outlook had changed he was less dopey, more interesting as a person. His transformation was lauded by all those around him. A real big-shot in the electronics game he became.

Even the guy who advised him was mesmerised at his rise. Watching him sling his weight around at exhibitions and advise others on products and practices.

Dennis got too excited advertising some unbelievable loss leaders to attract more and more custom.

He began to pay no attention to the keys, in the trading account, the  profit and loss and the cost of goods sold (COGS).

Another guy called Ashley Morris had a business called Global. He joined forces with Dennis amalgamating the business.  “Global Audio.”  By now, Dennis, who had changed his name to “Hadleigh” for reasons unknown to anyone but himself.  People speculated  it was because of TV star “James Hadleigh” a dashing handsome country ‘toff.’  Dopey Dennis saw himself as a gentrified guy, with horse and stables, clay pigeon shooting, going horse riding kind of guy.

The partnership did not last for long. Dennis was on his own again. Again, Dennis too excited about sales not paying attention to COGS.  Trying to boost sales with green shield stamps. For every pound they took they lost ten pence.

Desperate ‘sober’ Dennis called his adviser that got him off the floor. Asking him to provide him with invoices for a robbery he was planning – an insurance scam. The adviser told him  in no uncertain terms to “p*** off.”

Dickhead Dennis got a young boy to dig a hole in the ceiling of his premises, which was opposite the most modern police station in London at the time.

When Dennis reported it, the police smelt a rat immediately and given the fact it was on their doorstep they investigated thoroughly, hastily uncovering the ‘sober’ insurance plan and scam. The young boy admitted it immediately and got away with a warning.

‘Dirty Den’ called his adviser from his prison cell at Brixton gaol. The adviser went to see him, taking pity on him giving him an apple.

Not this apple .

This apple 

Dennis never recovered after being sentenced to two years in Prison.  His company folded bringing Ashley’s down with it. Debts of £400,000 in 1976 is BIG money.

The adviser never saw Dennis ever again.

© Daniel Bennett

Thank you to Author Simon Sinek for being my initiator, and confirmatory life-affirming influence for this memorable period.

Reminiscent of my track streaks, or my Guinness world record senior retail management days. My self learning recently has resembled these heady times. Thank you Simon.

This article is my own version of a “real life” chain of events that happened to the  most influential British businessman in history.

Thank  you to him.










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