Krayzy Days is widely said to be the most factually accurate book about the iconic and near-legendary Krays – because Micky Fawcett was actually there.
“How’s the book going?” I asked.
“It’s selling very well,” said his son Michael. “But the publishers went skint. They went up in the air. We took the book back around June and republished it ourselves. Before Christmas, the Kindle sales kept virtually static and the paperback sales virtually trebled. And, in December, it started to sell quite well in America.”
“”Well,” I said, “the film with Tom Hardy as The Krays is out in a few months. That will do you good. It might be even better than the first Krays film.”
“I didn’t like that one,” said Micky. “They missed the whole point of them.”
“What was that?” I asked.
“Reggie wore Bally shoes, didn’t he?” said Michael.
“Yeah,” said Micky. “You know who was an advisor on The Krays? Charlie Kray (their brother). The producers gave him a job as a technical advisor and the Twins were really annoyed about it. They didn’t like the film.”
“I read somewhere,” said Michael, “that Freddie Foreman went on the set and gave them advice that Reggie always had a quizzical look on his face…”
“It was his eyebrows,” said Mickey.
“…and Ronnie would stare into space,” added Michael.
“Is that true?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Micky. “Oh yeah. Ronnie was capable of any sort of… Yeah, he could stare into space. Very often.”
“Dreaming,” said Michael.
“Daydreaming,” said Micky. “Ronnie was more worldly and easy-going.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Well…” said Micky. “He was when he weren’t mad.”
“I always got the idea,” I said, “that Reggie was the quiet one.”
“No, no, no,” said Mickey. “Well… no, no. He did speak quietly, though. Charlie told him one day: Will you speak up, Reg? We can’t hear you talking… You know when they bring two boxers together in the centre of the ring? Well, that’s what Reggie was like when he met new people.”
“A couple of years ago,” I said, “someone told me a story that the Kray Twins arrived at the Establishment Club one day and tried to get protection money out of Peter Cook, but he said No and they left confused and bemused. But maybe the story was made up.”
“I think so,” said Micky. “I think I would have known about that.”
“I suppose,” I said, “they wouldn’t have done protection money in the West End. They were more the East End.”
“Well,” said Mickey, “the whole protection money thing is a bit of a myth anyway, It don’t work like that. You’ve got to want to be protected and the only people who want that sort of protection are crooked people who want protection from other crooks.”
“Surely,” I said. “if you’re a shopkeeper in Bethnal Green and I go in and say…”
“No,” said Micky. “You’d only last about an hour. You do get the occasional idiot who tries it on and the nicks are full of them. If you tried that in little shops, they’d all be phoning up the police straight away. It don’t work like that. Their wives would say: Phone the police. If you don’t, I will. The nearest I’ve come to that was when the police made their own one up.
“There were loads of police around because of Lord Boothby and I said to Reggie: I don’t feel safe. You oughta get out and lay low a bit. And he said to me: I know a bloke who’s got a hotel over in Finsbury Park. I said: I think that’d be a move to make.
“So we moved there and me and Reggie had a room between us and Ronnie had another room and the fellah who owned it – Ted – said: I’ve got a bar downstairs which I hardly open. If you want to have a meet with a few of your friends, I’ll open it up for you. Within a fortnight, it was the busiest bar in London. It was packed. You almost had to get an invite to get in there.
“One day a fellah called Sir Hugh – his father was a baronet – come in there. He was a gay who had little gangs round him of young men all trying to curry favour with him cos he had money. He said to Ronnie: I’ve just taken over a club in the West End and I’d like you to be in it with me. So Ronnie said: Certainly. It was the kind of opportunity he was looking for – protection money, if you like. But it’s only protection if you call it protection and it ain’t really. Him just being involved was the protection.
“A few days later, this Sir Hugh said: I’ve changed my mind, Ron.
“So Ronnie said OK but then did a little walk-round and told everyone: Don’t talk to him! Keep away from him! He’s an enemy now! He’s using us! He’s taking the piss!
“Ronnie was fuming over it. He was really annoyed.
“And then Teddy Smith went down Sir Hugh’s club, paralytic drunk and made himself a nuisance and they threw him out.
“And, at that time, there was an ITV company going round Soho looking for a story – going to clubs and other places – Have you had any trouble with protection money? Gangsters coming in and asking you for money? – And they stumbled on Sir Hugh and he said: Yes I have. The Kray Twins. They’re terrible. So the Old Bill steamed in and nicked Ronnie and Reggie and Teddy Smith for demanding money with menaces.
“They had a trial at the Old Bailey and the jury couldn’t agree – it was close – and then, at the next trial, the judge stopped the trial and let them go.
“Protection money is an idea instigated by journalists, really.”
(In 1960, Ronnie Kray was imprisoned for 18 months for running a protection racket and “related threats”.)