Yesterday, I had tea at the May Fair Hotel in London with Micky Fawcett whose memoir Krayzy Days has, quite rightly, been called the “definitive” book about iconic 1960s criminals the Kray Twins. Micky was on their ‘firm’.
“At some point after the George Cornell murder in the Blind Beggar pub,” Micky told me, “Ronnie Kray took his entourage – there could have been about 20 of them – into a pub in Hackney – and a plainclothes policeman was in there and approached him and said Look, Ron, I’m the Old Bill and I know what you’ve been through. Don’t worry. No-one’ll get near you in here. You can use this place, you can do what you like, but I’ll want ‘looking after’ and he told Ronnie how much money he wanted. So, you know what Ronnie did?”
“He hit him?” I suggested.
“No,” said Micky. “He phoned Scotland Yard and told them what had happened. So they then said they had to get Ronnie to be a witness in court against the policeman. So Ronnie went on the run and he hid until it blew over.”
“Did the policeman ever get prosecuted?” I asked.
“It just died out,” said Micky. “What the police were very fond of doing was – I’m not sure what phrase to use – maybe ‘drawing a veil of decency’ over things.”
“As I understand it,” I said, “the Krays’ rivals, the Richardsons, had lots of policemen in their pocket, but the Krays didn’t.”
“The Krays didn’t have any police protection,” said Micky, “but what they did have was nothing to do with money because money wasn’t their thing.
“Their thing was sex. That was their downfall; it was everything. It wasn’t money with them.”
“So the Kray Twins had no influence over the police?” I said.
“Well,” said Micky, “there was this woman called Jamette who owned a club called La Monde in the World’s End in Chelsea and she knew the then Commissioner of Police, Sir Joseph Simpson. He was a masochist and she was a sadist.”
“The perfect relationship,” I said.
The current Wikipedia entry on Sir Joseph Simpson says: Simpson was a fair and tolerant man, but also expected the same high standards of others that he set for himself and was a great believer in discipline. He believed in a more equal police force, where senior officers and lower ranks had a closer relationship.
“Jamette was a horrible, evil woman,” said Micky.
In Micky’s book Krayzy Days, he writes that Jamette “emboldened” the Kray Twins by telling them that this top cop Sir Joseph Simpson was a closet masochist who she would regularly whip and abuse to order and she assured them she could handle him. This same woman was the one who, when Reggie chinned Bimbo Smith knocking his false teeth out, stamped on them, and on her daughter’s 16th birthday asked Ronnie to deflower her. Ronnie duly obliged.
“I suppose,” I said to Micky yesterday, “that the Richardsons were in it for the money and the Krays were in it for the power and the violence.”
“That’s right,” said Micky unexpectedly. “You know who sums it up well? Malcolm Hardee.”
I had given Micky a copy of the late comedian Malcolm Hardee’s autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake.
“I’ve read most of his book,” Micky said. “My son Michael kidnapped the book and I had trouble getting it back off him.”
In his book, Malcolm Hardee says: No-one outside South East London knew the Richardsons until they were arrested and there was a lot of publicity at their trial about torturing people in a home-made electric chair. But everyone knew the Krays.
“The Twins,” said Micky yesterday, “had their clubs and were into showbizzy things.”
“There were stories,” I said, “that the Richardsons were paying off at least one Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard. But the Krays were not paying off the police.”
“That’s right,” said Micky. “I mean, they declared war on the police. They hated them. It was like a religion with them. Everybody had to hate the police and when Ronnie Marwood stabbed a policeman with a frogman’s knife, the Twins made a cause célèbre of it. He was hanged for it. They were obsessed by it. There was another guy who got shot by the police in a phone box – he wasn’t crooked, he was a nutcase – but, after he’d been shot, the Twins were trying to find links so they could say Oh, he was a pal of ours. They were anti-Police, anti-Police, anti-Police all the time.”
“So is that why Ronnie phoned up Scotland Yard and told them about the plainclothes copper who wanted a bribe in the Hackney pub?” I asked.
“No,” said Mickey, “Ronnie phoned up Scotland Yard because he was fucking, raving mad. What probably happened was that he was in a paranoid mood.”
“Did you get on the wrong side of him?” I asked.
“In my book,” said Micky, “I tell you. One afternoon, me and a pal of mine were driving along and we saw an old boy we knew – Lenny Stringer. He’d done six years in Dartmoor Prison, but had given it all up; he was a nice old boy and we were going to drop him off in Corporation Street where he lived.
“Suddenly – Ding-a-ling-a-ling – Ding-a-ling-a-ling – bells – and there’s a car in front, a car behind and a car beside us forcing us into the kerb. Then we were jumped on by half a dozen big coppers who grabbed us and put us in different cars. I looked down at the floor of the police car and saw a crow bar wrapped in brown paper and thought They’re going to say that’s mine.
“So, at the police station, I said those legendary words What’s it all about, guv? and this Welsh copper told me: The manor will be a bit fucking quieter without you: that’s what it’s all about. It cost us £200, we had to plead guilty for possession of crowbars and my pal and I each got three months in prison – they let Lenny Stringer go.
“I got the three months and appealed, knowing we’d have to plead guilty later. You used to be able to appeal in the Magistrates’, say I want to go to the Sessions and, just before you got there, drop your appeal. It gave you time to get all your things in order.
“So, that night, I walked into the Kentucky Club (owned by the Krays) and Ronnie was in there.
“I told him We got three months each today. Lenny Stringer got off.
“And Ronnie went Why you telling me this, Mick?
“And I said What, Ron?
“And he said You told me a different name before. You’re sounding me out, aren’t you, Mick?
“And I said N-n-no. No, Ron, what?
“And he said: You’re sounding me out. You think I’m a grass, don’t you? A lot of people are going round saying we’re grasses, me and Reggie.
“And I said: No, I dunno what you… I…
“And he said: Yes you do...
“And I said: I don’t th… I… Honestly, Ron…
“At that moment, someone else walked in and he said Hello to Ron and I went out the door – gone – quick.
“The next night, half a dozen of us were in the (Krays’) house in Vallance Road and Ronnie said: Mick, I want to have a word with you. So Reggie and the others all went off to the Kentucky Club and Ronnie said to me: You and me will walk down together.
“And he told me: I’m sorry about last night, Mick. The words will stay in my head forever. He said: You must think I’m a right prat, don’t you? A word I’d never heard him use.
“He said: I’ll tell you what it is, Mick. I’ve been experimenting with not taking my medication. I’ve taken it now. I’ll try and explain to you. It’s like a haze. I can’t tell you. It’s like I’m living in a fog. I can’t work things out. I can’t understand things. I’ve got the pills here. Look.
“I said: Oh, yeah. They were Stelazine – an anti-psychotic drug. He’d already been in and been certified.
“He said: Do you want one?
“So I took one of the pills and swallowed it. I took it in case, if I refused, he’d say Oh! You think I’m trying to poison you! and it all started up again. I took the pill and that was the end of that.”