10 October 2005
I TOOK ONE LAST HIT OF PURE COCAINE AND RAISED THE BROWNING 9MM TO MY HEAD.
GANGSTER TELLS HOW DRUGS ALMOST DESTROYED HIM AND HOW HE'S TURNED AWAY FROM HIS LIFE OF CRIME.
PAUL Ferris sat alone in his flat overlooking the Clyde, the 9mm Browning pistol cradled in his hand.
Outside, the papers were full of reports that he was still ready to take over Glasgow's gangland, that his feud with Tam "The Licensee" McGraw would lead to blood on the streets.
Inside the riverside flat it was a different story. Ferris was a forlorn figure, addicted to freebase cocaine and haunted by the murder of his friends Joe Hanlon and Bobby Glover and the recent death of his father.
He flicked open the Zippo lighter, fired up his crack pipe and inhaled deeply. He switched the CD player to his favourite tune, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, and sat back to listen to the lyrics.
"Two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year ...
Wish you were here." In his drug-addled state, the song was talking to him. It was a message from Bobby and Joe.
He checked the Browning was loaded and lifted it to his temple, letting the tune swim over him.
He'd had enough. His mates were gone. His life was spent looking over his shoulder. Killing himself would be easy...
If it wasn't for the constant banging in the background.
It dragged Ferris out of his dreamlike state. It had to be some bloody salesman, he thought.
He slipped the pistol into the back of his waistband and went to the door to send them on their way.
Only it wasn't a salesman. It was his girlfriend Sandra Arnott wondering if he'd gone deaf Today, Ferris says that knock on the door saved his life.
He's chatting about his new book Vendetta, co-written with Reg McKay, and he's sober enough to realise many people would have cheered if he'd pulled the trigger.
He said: "I was totally focused on what I had to do. The banging on the door was just an irritation.
"It was September 2004. It was the anniversary of my dad's death. Bobby and Joe died in that month in 1991.
"Wish You Were Here was a come-on for me. Bobby and Joe were the two lost souls and they wanted me with them.
"I was robotic enough from sleep deprivation and using cocaine to think it was a subliminal message.
"I had no fear at all. I was going there. The only thing that stopped me was the irritation of the knocking at the door.
"I had to cut off that irritation. It just so happened it was Sandra.
"She walked in and saw the look in my eyes. She knew I was on cocaine. I told her it was my last pipe - well, it was going to be - and so it turned out. I haven't touched it since.
"I've written about this because people need to know what was going on in my life for 18 months.
"It's an anti-drug message because that stuff - freebase cocaine - is absolutely crazy. You can get academics that tell you what to do but I know what I'm talking about 100 per cent.
"You don't get diplomas in the life that I've lived. But money couldn't buy the education I've had and I hope I can put it to good use - starting with Vendetta."
Ferris fell into serious drug taking after going to Manchester to work with Glasgow gangster Rab Carruthers.
Carruthers, who died last year, had a fearsome reputation for violence and a fascination for guns. That, and an ability to take care of business, had seen him become a major player in organised crime on the drug-strewn streets of the city.
But Carruthers had developed a huge drug habit following the death of his son.
Ferris was asked to keep an eye on him. Only problem was, you didn't tell Carruthers anything - he told you Ferris says: "I'd be going out, having a drink, then maybe a line or two of cocaine. I snorted a line in Rab's house and he went mental.
"He shouts, 'Paul, what are you doing?' - which I thought was a bit rich coming from him. He said, 'You don't know what you're taking up your nose. Come and I'll show you what to do'."
And that's how Ferris learned to freebase cocaine and ended up addicted for an 18-month period that almost cost him his life.
Ferris was still being tipped as the heir to Arthur Thompson's title of Glasgow's Godfather when he almost killed himself.
Today, he says he's clean and trying to go straight for the sake of his sons, 19-year-old Paul jnr and Dean, eight, and the sons of his best friends Hanlon and Glover.
His latest book is released today. It takes up the story from where his first book, Conspiracy, left off.
The 375 pages cover Ferris's crimes and associates and his attempts to go straight. There are people who will sneer at the latter. Ferris is still well connected with major crime figures.
And there are people who will swear he's been spotted at the scene of every major crime in Scotland in recent years.
But whatever you think about his claims of turning his back on crime, the facts are that he has not been interviewed or charged by police in nearly four years.
In that time, he has been involved in making documentaries, writing books and trying to set up a movie about his life starring Robert Carlyle He is working on a documentary, entitled Pious Perjury, about the miscarriage of justice that saw TC Campbell and Joe Steele wrongly convicted of the Ice Cream War killings,.
In Vendetta, Ferris once more sets his sights on Tam "The Licensee" McGraw, police corruption and the cosy cartel of cops and grasses.
But it also includes new stories about unsolved crimes, miscarriages of justice and his London, Manchester and Liverpool connections.
He talks about the contracts that have been taken out on him and the price he will have to pay for his life of crime.
The Shah of Iran's corrupt grandson even gets a dishonourable mention.
Ferris insists it is an anti-crime book, saying: "Vendetta is what not to do but without the finger-pointing exercise.
"I want to say this is the road I went down and this is what I ended up. Make sure you don't do the same.
"It's what I've told my sons and hopefully taught Bobby and Joe's sons.
"These boys are a credit to their families. They've never been in trouble like we were - so there's a drop in crime in a generation.
"That can only be productive."
THE DAILY RECORD HAS NOT PAID PAUL FERRIS