So I was talking to Micky Fawcett. He used to work for 1960s London gangsters the Kray Twins.
“The Krays went up to Scotland, didn’t they?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” replied Micky. “The Scots came down here to London.”
“Arthur Thompson?” I asked.
“I don’t think he was there, but there was a guy called Richie Anderson. He was on the firm (the Krays’ gang) for a while; I got on very well with Richie. He was a bit scornful of… You know the two Scotsmen who were with Ronnie when he shot George Cornell in the Blind Beggar? One fired the gun up in the roof. They hadn’t been round for long; they were newcomers, but Richie Anderson was very scornful of them:. You know why?”
“Because they came from Edinburgh and he came from Glasgow.”
“That would do it,” I laughed. “Glasgow chaps think chaps from Edinburgh are ponces and wankers, not proper hard men.”
“I was friendly with quite a few Jocks in the Army,” said Micky. “In the five minutes I was there. There was John McDowell. To look at him, you would imagine he’d been brought up on deep-fried Mars Bars. He came from Maryhill…”
“Ooh,” I said. “Buffalo Bill from Maryhill. There are supposed to be lots of descendants of Red Indians around Maryhill.”
“… and there was a bloke who came from Govan,” Micky continued.
“You know all the best people,” I said.
“I like Scotland,” Micky told me. “In the Army, Scotsmen, Cockneys and Scousers all kind of had more in common. There was a good experience I had in Scotland. Me and another guy sold a feller a distillery.”
“Legitimately?” I asked. “Did you actually own it?”
“Anyway…,” said Micky. “We sold him the distillery. We had never seen a distillery. So we thought we’d better go and see one. We jumped on a plane and went to one of these little towns near Glasgow. All done. So we thought we’d go and have a drink in the Gorbals.”
“Oh good grief!” I said.
“I wanted to see it,” said Mickey. “I’m fascinated by that sort of thing. All the windows were bricked up.”
“Which year was this?”
“The early 1960s.”
“You’re lucky to have got out alive,” I told him. “An English accent in the Gorbals.”
“I’ve been up there since and the Gorbals has gone.”
“They’ve blown up the tower blocks,” I said.
“And I’ve been up Ben Nevis and around Loch Lomond,” said Micky. “I saw the Queen up there… On my first visit to Scotland in the 1950s, around 1958, I went to the Braemar Gathering and she was there in the distance.
“I can’t remember where I stayed; I might have slept in the car in them days – I had a wooden shooting-brake. But, the next day, I’m driving around and I recognise Princess Margaret’s car, because it had been on the television – she had a Vauxhall Victor.
“I saw a couple of soldiers in their uniforms with rifles, just standing around talking and there was the Royal Family sitting on big blankets out on the grass. Just sitting around drinking out of vacuum flasks and eating sandwiches.”
“It was not,” I asked, “Princess Margaret you sold a distillery to?”
“No,” laughed Micky. “I can’t remember the details of the distillery. But we also sold La Discotheque in London.
“I was in the Kentucky Club (owned by the Kray Twins) and there was a feller who had run dance halls. Do you remember Lennie Peters?”
“The blind pop singer in Peters & Lee?”
“Yeah. and because this feller was in the dance hall business, the Twins thought that was exactly the same as being in the music business. It was confused in their minds. So Reggie asked this feller: Can you do anything for Lennie Peters? The feller said: No, I can’t do anything.
“So the feller came over to us – me and another guy who were standing around just having a drink – and said: Make you fucking laugh, don’t they? He’s just asked me if I can do anything for Lennie Peters? How am I going to do anything for a fucking blind man?”
“Later, I said to Reggie: You asked him, did you? And Reggie says: Yeah. The usual thing. I’ll chin him.
“I said: No, no, hold it a minute. We can do something with him.”
“We?” I asked.
“Me and the guy I was working with. I had a partner for a long, long time. We worked well together. So we talked to this guy and found out how his dance halls worked and how they didn’t work and said: We can do something for you. Would you like to run La Discotheque? It was the first discotheque in the West End. A feller called Raymond Nash owned it, a Lebanese…”
“Nash?” I asked.
“Yeah. Not the Nash family. He was a Lebanese guy, a top criminal.”
“Lebanese criminal?” I asked.
“Yeah. But in England. He died not long ago and there were big articles in the papers about him. His daughter got caught by Japanese and – oh – if someone wanted to make a good story, that really would be a good story.”
Raymond Nash had also been an associate of slum landlord Peter Rachman.
“So,” Micky continued, “we approached Raymond Nash and said: Listen, we got a feller we wanna do a bit of business with, if you could make all your staff just salute us and give us the run of the place for a night…
“He said: Alright, you got it.”
“He got cut-in for a percentage?” I asked.
“No. No money for him. He just wanted to be friendly with The Twins…
“So we went back to this feller – Ron Kingsnorth his name was – he had a dance hall in Romford – and we said to him: Listen, we can do something here. We’ve put the frighteners on that Raymond Nash and we can take over La Discotheque. We’ll take you up there, have a look round, see if you fancy it.
“And I forget the figure we got out of him – but it was a few grand.”
“So he bought it?” I asked.
“He bought the running of it from us and then Raymond Nash came along and said to him: What are you doing here? Fuck off!
“We used to do it all the time. That was my job.”