Tag Archives: armourer

Comedy tours, hanging actors’ hangers-on and a London underground shooting

Lou and his little friend last night

Ah! The power of the blogosphere!

Yesterday, I wrote about comedy writer Mark Kelly’s latest work-in-progress Stuart Leigh – The Stewart Lee Tribute Act andjust four hours after I posted the blog – Mark got an e-mail from someone who says they are interested in booking it into various venues, when it is ready to tour.

As Stuart Leigh – The Stewart Lee Tribute Act is not yet fully written and Mark currently only has thoughts of getting it ready for the 2013 (not the 2012) Edinburgh Fringe, this may be a slow-burning triumph.

Still, to look on the bright side, if the guy does arrange some bookings for the show, Mark says he will buy me an apple crumble at the Stockpot in Soho’s Old Compton Street.

Touring shows nowadays is slightly more respectable than it used to be.

I was round at Uncle Lou’s last night. He is not my uncle, but he has the affable air of a kindly uncle; in fact, he is a movie armourer who, as Londoners foolish enough to live South of the Thames might say, ‘tooled-up’ the unique movie experience that was/is Killer Bitch.

Lou, an armourer, goldsmith, silversmith, consigliere and history buff, told me:

“In the 1700s, if a ‘touring company’ – a bunch of entertainers – turned up and started performing in the streets and you started hanging round with ‘em, you might get executed. If the local people went to the beadle and grassed you up by saying Look at ‘im – He’s hanging round with a right bunch of thespian arseholes! you might get reported to the law and considered to be a real lowlife. If you hung around with these entertainers for a week or more, you could get arrested and the maximum sentence was hanging. People were hung for it. So the rule of thumb was Don’t hang around with actors and vagabonds or you could get killed because you are considered scum… Oh, and musicians too – The law thought they were a bunch of arseholes as well.”

Plus ça change.

I had gone round to Lou’s with the creative tornado that is Jason Cook, whom I blogged about recently. He is getting closer to funding The Devil’s Dandruff, a movie based on the first of his three novels ‘based on’ his life which ‘might have’ involved London gangsters and the international drug trade.

He told me last night that one of the real-life Mr Bigs who ‘might have been’ involved had him ‘brought in’ for a chat after he had published the first two books. The chap said he had heard Jason had been ‘telling stories’ and he was unhappy about it… This did not sound good for Jason… But it turned out the chap was only unhappy about one thing… that Jason had not used the chap’s real name in the books.

Ah! The lure of immortality in print!

Jason – who is very determined and very persuasive – has had the offer of a free 747 jet to film in. A while ago, he produced a short film titled Tunnel Visions which was set in a tube train. Last night, he told me:

“We went to London Transport and said We want to shoot on the Underground in a real train and they said Yup, that’s fine. If you bring all your things down, it’ll cost you £3,000. 

So we thought Ah!

“Then they said to us: If you bring a skeleton crew, we’ll reduce it down to £2,000.

So we thought Ah!

“But then they asked us Have you got a student on the crew? If you’ve got a student, you can do it for £50.

“So we went to a university and got ourselves a student.

“London Underground said: OK. Pay for your permit – £50. 

“We went on the train, commandeered half a carriage, got everyone on there and shot the film all day. There were five people in the crew – including the student – and all the extras in the scenes helped us too.”

Jason Cook is a man who gets things done.

So is Uncle Lou, but examples of that are mostly unprintable.

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Filed under Acting, Comedy, Crime, Legal system, Movies, Theatre

The Kray Twins killed him… ?

Yesterday, I had a chat with my chum ‘Lou’, armourer and death consultant on the infamous and much-reviled Killer Bitch movie.

He had recently read an old copy of the ‘Revised and Updated’ 3rd Edition of John Pearson’s highly-respected book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins.

The book had given him a few laughs, principal among which were several references to the Kray Twins’ driver Billy Frost (referred to in the index by his 1960s nickname ‘Jack Frost’).

The Profession of Violence says:

“The comradeship within the Firm was not improved when two of its members disappeared after trouble with Ronnie. One was his driver, a talkative young man called Frost…To this day, Frost (remains) on Scotland Yard’s missing persons list” and later the book says: “the great (Scotland Yard) investigation, for all its thoroughness, seemed to have missed the biggest crimes… there was no hint of what happened to Jack Frost”.

Well, I can tell you the only great mystery surrounding the ‘death’ of Billy Frost is why it is implied that the Kray Twins killed him. He did take a journey North after a couple of killings committed by the Krays (the second being the murder by the Krays of his friend Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie) but he certainly did not look dead when he talked to me in 2009 during the filming of Killer Bitch and, if he was killed in the 1960s, his ghost successfully managed the neat trick of posting me a Christmas card that same year. I think he was happily living at home in the East End of London when The Profession of Violence was first published in 1972.

Lou laughed: “I’ve seen John Pearson in the same room as Billy Frost, standing about ten feet from him!”

There is a 2008 interview with Billy on YouTube and he was interviewed in a February 2010 issue of Spitalfields Life.

It’s amazing how people allegedly killed by the Krays over forty years ago can be so lively.

It perhaps goes to show you should never believe anything you read about the Krays.

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Filed under Books, Movies