So I was having a chat with Micky Fawcett at Westfield in Stratford, East London.
JOHN: A few weeks ago, you were telling me about a director who was writing a film script from your book, but there were disagreements over the script.
JOHN: One was the incident where, instead of sudden, unexpected violence, he wanted to build up the tension.
MICKY: Yeah. There was a feller I was friendly with – Ronnie Curtis – and his wife was having an affair with his best friend – Albert Lovett.
JOHN: Are these people still alive?
JOHN: Thank God for that. Carry on, then…
MICKY: Ronnie said to me: “Albert’s been seeing Sheila. I’m going to…” You know. And a couple of days went on and he never did anything and I thought to myself: Oh, well, nothing much is going to happen here.
But there was three of us all working together and we had a meeting at 10 o’clock one morning in Joe’s caff in Upton Park, just off Green Street. We had our meeting and coffee or whatever we had and, as we walked out of the caff, Ronnie Curtis said to me: “Oh, I got a letter from a pal of ours. The heading is in red ink. I wonder if that means anything?”
So I got the letter and I’m looking at it and – BOOM! as quick as that – the blade has gone right through down Albert’s cheek and into this mouth… Cut all his gums. And Albert has turned round and he’s got his overcoat on and Ronnie is slashing at his arse and it’s all being shredded and there’s blood everywhere. And two policemen were walking along in plain clothes on the other side of the road and they ran across and there was chaos but I was gone and so was Ronnie Curtis gone.
JOHN: And the argument with the film director writing the script was…?
MICKY: He said: “What we do in a film is, in the cafe, we build up the tension – We will have Ronnie fiddling around with his dinner and we can see something is wrong and something is going to happen.”
And I said, “No. No. No. The whole thing about it was the surprise. The shock.” We really argued about that. He’s not doing the script now. I don’t see him any more.
JOHN: Well, I think you’re right. Ultra-violence happening without warning is much more shocking than seeing people’s foreheads sweating and the audience knowing something is about to happen.
MICKY: Yeah. That’s what it’s all about.
JOHN: If anyone ever says: “The way it is normally done in the movies is…” that is a very good reason NOT to do it that way. It is usually better to tell the truth. Though the only problem about the truth is that it’s often so OTT it is unbelievable. The truth is often just so Over The Top you have to tone it down.
MICKEY: That thing that happened at Joe’s caff is just something that has always stuck in my mind. Second only to when I was out having a glass of beer with Reggie (Kray) and he shot a feller in the toilet.
JOHN: What had the other guy done?
MICKEY: Well, we went to a drinking club in Islington. We went downstairs to the toilet and BAAAAAAAAAAAANNNGG!!!! and Reggie has shot the feller standing at the next urinal in the leg. The echo!!! It was deafening!
JOHN: Why did he shoot him?
MICKY: He never explained it and I didn’t ask. We went back upstairs and we left as casually as I could muster.
JOHN: Who was the guy?
MICKY: Soppy Cooper was his name. All I know about him is he came from Hoxton. That was probably enough for Reggie. Neither of them – the Twins – liked people from Hoxton.
MICKY: I dunno. They had come from Hoxton. It was before they had got their own way with the world. They were ordinary people once, weren’t they… Frances, Reggie’s wife, came from Hoxton.
JOHN: But Reggie never said why he shot the bloke?
MICKY: No. He said: “I think I shot him in the head.”
And I said: “No, it was definitely the leg.”
“But as I shot him,” Reggie told me, “the gun jumped and he put his hands up to his head.”
“That was because it was so loud,” I said. “He was putting his hands up to his ears. It was deafening.”