Tag Archives: gangsters

“All the London casinos were crooked” – gangsters, gambling and bullfighting

Micky Fawcett (left) with Michael at the May Fair hotel in 2014

“So how did your son Michael become a bullfighter in Spain?” I asked former Krays associate Micky Fawcett in the bar of the May Fair Hotel in London last week.

“Well, in the late 1970s,” Micky told me, “I was having a bit of trouble with the gendarmes in London so, around Christmastime, I got in a car to Spain with Michael, his mother and his mother’s sister. We got a flat out there. I had been in Spain before – with Billy Hill.”

“Why were you with Billy Hill?” I asked.

“He wanted to see me because he had pulled that masterstroke which I mention in the book.”

Micky’s autobiographical memoir Krayzy Days goes way beyond his days with the Kray Twins, Ronnie and Reggie.

Young Micky Fawcett (left) with Reggie Kray & Reggie’s wife

“I was out with Reggie in Mayfair one night,” Micky told me, “and we went to go in the 21 Club in Chesterfield Gardens and they wouldn’t let us in, so Reggie chinned the doorman and we went off to the Astor Club in a bad mood. The Astor was in an alley behind where we’re sitting now.

“Reggie owed lots of money in income tax at the time. He had just given me Esmerelda’s Barn (a Knightsbridge club) and said: You take it over. I dunno if you can do anything with it. Sell it to someone or something.

“And, down at the Astor, we saw this guy called Murphy. He was a rick.”

“A rick?” I asked.

“He sits in at the game in a casino but he’s working for the house. Cheating. All the cards are marked. And Reggie said to this guy: You might be able to do something with Mick here. And the guy said: I don’t do anything without I contact The Old Professor.”

“The Old Professor?” I asked.

“Billy Hill,” said Micky. “Anyway, Reggie was furious. It was another knock back to him that night. So we went in the office at The Astor and Reggie phoned Billy Hill and said: Listen. We’ve got somebody here who says he can’t do any business with us unless he gets the OK from you.

“And Bill said: Bring him round straight away.

“So we threw the guy in the car and took him round and Bill told the guy: Get in the kitchen, you. I’ll deal with you in a minute. Then Bill said to Reggie: Can I just throw him out? For old times, sake, eh, Reg?

Billy Hill at home. (Photo: Krayzy Days)

“And Reggie said: No, he’s going in the River.

“And Bill said: No, Reg, think about it. This will be the last place he’s ever been seen. Just for old times sake, eh? I’ll just throw him out.

“So Reggie said: Go on, then.

“And Bill went in the kitchen. A bit of noise. – Oh! Agh! Ugh! Ah! – All over the top. And Hillsy came out and said: I just kicked him up the arse and threw him out. Here you are Reg. And he gave Reggie a brown envelope. Wot’s this? says Reggie.

There’s a monkey in there, said Hillsy.”

“£500?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Micky. “And Billy told Reggie: It’s a gift. It ain’t nothing. We’ll be friends.

“So Reggie said: OK. And he took it because he didn’t have any money at all. He was skint.

“Anyway, about 48 hours later, I’m round Vallance Road (where the Krays lived) and Hillsy phones up. He says: Reg, I’ve got a problem. Can you get me some help?

“So Reggie gets a few of the more fierce-looking characters around. He didn’t give me nothing. I’d had nothing out of the £500. He said to me: Mick, you stay here and man the phone in case anything goes wrong. And away they go.

“A couple of hours later, he comes back and he ain’t saying very much. Eventually, I ask him what happened and he says: It was a false alarm, really. He was up there playing cards with some of his mates – the waiters out of the local restaurant. Foreigners.”

“So what was the problem?” I asked.

Teddy Machin (Photograph from Krayzy Days)

“Well, I’m going to tell you,” said Micky. “I tell Teddy Machin about it and he tells Hillsy who says: Oh yeah. I know Mick. He came round here with Reggie. Bring him out here. I’d like to meet him. He was in Spain by then. He used to be back and forward to Spain. He used to get about. He’d been to South Africa. So I got on the plane and went out to Spain.

“And it turned out they hadn’t been waiters. They had been alarmed at the Twins moving in to the 21 Club and chinning the doorman.

“The 21 Club was one of the top casinos in the country. They were a bit concerned cos they were running the gambling in London. Someone wrote a book about it. (The Hustlers: Gambling, Greed and The Perfect Con and there was a 2009 TV documentary titled The Real Casino Royale and a Daily Telegraph article.) One of their customers was George Osborne’s uncle.”

“The recent Chancellor of the Exchequer?”

“Yeah. At Aspinall’s, above the Clermont Club, just round the corner from here. They was all crooked. At some point, Billy Hill had said to John Aspinall: You can either blow the whistle and ruin your business or you can include us in it. And Aspinall said: Well, I’ve got no choice, have I? You’re in it.

More on the Unione Corse in the book

“The ‘waiters’ who were with Billy Hill when Reggie went round were the Unione Corse who were running the gambling in Mayfair.”

“They were running all the casinos?”

“Yeah. All the casinos were crooked, near enough. They had a system where they could mark the cards. I don’t know how. Nobody did. But they did. And Billy Hill did.

“So, when I went out to Spain, he told me all the story about how it was the Unione Corse. He wined me and dined me a bit. He took me to the Marbella Club and he said: Come over to Tangier. He had a club there as well and they were in Tangier as well. So I went there with him. Boulevard Hassan II was his address there.

“Anyway, that’s how I got the flavour for Spain. And, when I was in Spain, he took me to bullfights.”

“So,” I asked, “when you later went out to Spain with your son Michael and his mother, how old was Michael?”

Micky Fawcett chatted in Mayfair last week

“Nine. And I said to Michael: I’ll take you to a bullfight. And we did. Then, a few days later, we were on the beach and Michael was messing around with the muleta – the red flag – and he’s playing bullfighters.

“And the fellah who had the concession for that part of the beach was an ex-bullfighter who fought as El Solo. He introduced Michael to other bullfighters. All of a sudden, we were catapulted right into the middle of that sort of thing. The man who ran the bullring had been written about by Hemingway.

“So they have to test the little baby bulls and they see which ones are brave. And Michael was just playing at fighting with the little bulls.”

“There was,” I asked, “no sticking swords or anything else into them?”

“Oh no, no,” said Micky. “Baby bulls. But, while we were there, doing all that, an English woman who was a journalist started making enquiries about Michael and, next thing you know, there’s a picture of Michael in the bullfighting magazine El Ruedo with writing underneath in Spanish all about him. He was 10 years old by then.

“And I didn’t know at the time, but it was also in the Evening Standard in London. So there I am out in Spain trying to keep a low profile and Michael’s got a big picture and article in the big bullfighting magazine and in the Evening Standard back in London – and it was even in the local paper The Stratford Express.”

Young Michael Fawcett got publicity

“He must have been proud,” I said, “aged ten.”

“Nah,” said Micky. “He didn’t care. He said: Oh no! It’ll spoil my image! Cos he was into music.”

“How long did this go on for?” I asked.

“A few months, I suppose. What happened was I then ran out of money.”

“So you had to come back to Britain?”

“Well, no. Not quite.”

“Is this,” I asked, “when you ended up in jail in Belgium or somewhere?”

“Worse,” said Micky.

 

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The new Kray Twins film, the famous Hollywood star & the Mafia – the truth

Micky Fawcett at the May Fair Hotel this afternoon

Micky Fawcett chatted at the May Fair Hotel this afternoon

So, this afternoon, I had tea with Micky Fawcett, former close associate of gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

“They’re going to make another film about the Twins,” he told me.

“Not another one!” I said.

So far, we have had The Krays (1990), The Rise of The Krays (2015), Legend (2015) and The Fall of The Krays (2016).

“This new one,” said Micky, “is by the same people who made The Fall of The Krays and the same two guys who played the Twins in that are playing them in this. They’re claiming the previous film made a lot of money, which it probably did. David Sullivan – the pornographer – is the backer of it all.

“What is this new one called?” I asked.

“At the moment, The Krays and The Mafia,” Micky told me.

“Well,” I said, “that is going to be a very short film.”

Krayzy Days – remembered as they were

Micky’s book on his days with the Krays and much else besides in his ‘unusual’ life

“Yes,” said Micky. “I’ll tell you their full connection with the Mafia. There was a club in London which was run by the Mafia – The Colony and Sporting Club – in Berkeley Square. This was in 1966/1967. The Hollywood actor George Raft was the front man.”

“He,” I said, “got banned from Britain by the Home Secretary, didn’t he?”

“Yeah,” said Micky. “They were doing OK, the Mafia.”

In his book, Freddie Foreman – The Godfather of British Crime, Freddie Foreman writes: “The Colony’s patrons included Frank Sinatra and Robert Ryan, Dino and Eddy Celini ran the casino and the real owner was the MD of American crime Meyer Lansky. The Colony went on for a couple of years and was a good earner. George Raft, who had Mafia connections, wanted us to keep a low profile, though. He didn’t want faces to frighten away guests. In those areas, it was not the done thing.”

I asked Micky Fawcett today: “The Krays were not actually involved in the club?”

“No,” he told me, “but the Krays were going in there and unsettling people. They didn’t do anything very much, but one example was when there was an argument among a Jewish family in the club and Ronnie Kray jumped up and was going to make an impression – he thought it would impress the Mafia. But they went: Ron, Ron, Ron. This is not how we do things.

George Raft (centre) with Ronnie (left) and Reggie Kray

George Raft (centre) with Ronnie (left) and Reggie Kray

“And, shortly afterwards, George Raft said: Reg, I can see you’re not doing very well and would like to make a small gift to you. I want to give you £300 a week. So they agreed this. What I’m going to do, George Raft told Reg, is I’m going to give you an advance of £3,000.

“I don’t think Reggie had ever seen £3,000 before. So he took the £3,000 and split it between Freddie Foreman – he gave him £1,000. He gave £1,000 to the Nash family. And that left him with £1,000 to split with his brothers Ronnie and Charlie. And, when he’d done that, that was the money gone.

“Then the fight happened at Mr Smith’s in Catford and the Americans all got out of the country quick and couldn’t get back in – George Raft was banned from re-entry by the Home Office because his continued presence in the United Kingdom would not be conducive to the public good – and that was the end of the story of the Mafia and the Krays.”

“Why,” I asked, “did the Mafia get out of he country quick?”

“Because they didn’t want to be associated with people shooting each other.”

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Arrest of the Kray Twins; Frank Bruno; and the winner of Britain’s Got Talent

Micky Fawcett in the May Fair Hotel yesterday

Micky Fawcett was in the May Fair Hotel, London, this month

A couple of days ago, I blogged about a chat I had with Mickey Fawcett, a close associate of iconic 1960s gangsters the Kray Twins.

“I dug out some statements the other day,” he told me.

‘The ones made when you were arrested with the Twins?” I asked.

“Yeah. There were loads of people arrested.”

“It was fraud you were acquitted of?”

“Yes. I wasn’t charged with anything else.”

“This is,” I checked, “when the Krays were arrested for the two murders?”

Krayzy Days by Micky Fawcett

Micky Fawcett’s book about The Firm

“The murders and everything,” said Micky. “The whole thing. I was the last one arrested because I kept out-of-the-way for a while. I had always given my mother’s address, so the police kept missing me. I had stopped speaking to the Twins at this point and was enemies with them and we were trying to kill each other.”

“As,” I said, “in the first sentence in your book.”

“Yes,” said Micky. His book Krayzy Days starts with the words:

We were going to kill Reggie Kray. I had a .38 revolver and we were waiting for him late one night outside John Bigg Point, a block of flats in Stratford, East London. Reggie and I had once been close and for years I knew the Kray twins as well as anyone. But now their world was in disarray. They were lost in their own celebrity; a fame which brought with it a circle of yes-men and hangers-on. Wannabe gangsters who fuelled brother Ronnie’s madness. Only a few of us who had been around for longer could see the twins were heading for disaster. If we didn’t do anything they would take us down with them.

Micky Fawcett (right) with Ronnie Kray (left) & boxer Sonny Liston,

(From left) Ronnie Kray, boxer Sonny Liston, Micky Fawcett (Photograph from Krayzy Days)

“You got off,” I said. “How?”

“I had a plan,” said Mickey.

“What was that?” I asked.

“People will have to read the book,” he laughed, “but it involved the Financial Times.”

“What was the fraud you were charged with?” I asked.

Long firm,” said Micky. “Poor old Stanley Crowther was running the long firm – a gay, alcoholic, ex-barrister.”

“I feel,” I said: “there is a sitcom in this.”

“What used to happen with Ronnie, though,” Micky continued, “was that he would spoil a long firm by jumping in halfway through. On one occasion, he said to me: Come on, Mick: a bird in the hand is worth four in the bush.

Larry Gains - British Empire (Commonwealth) heavyweight champion, Ronnie and Johnny Davies with the twins’ racehorse Solway Cross.

Twins’ racehorse Solway Cross with (L-R) British Empire heavyweight champion Larry Gains, Ronnie Kray and gunman Johnny Davies. (Photograph from Krayzy Days)

“Another day, he went in and said: I need £1,000 to buy a racehorse. And he bought one. The Twins really bought it for their mother.  But it was a ‘three-legged’ one. It never won anything. They auctioned it.

“One of the statements I read the other day was when the Twins got arrested. Nipper Read – Chief Superintendent Read, he was at the time – goes into the council flat the Twins are using in Bunhill Row and his statement reads: I said to Reginald Kray ‘You are under arrest’ and he said ‘Aaahhh! Mr Read, we’ve been expecting you. You’ll find it a bit more difficult this time, because we’ve got lots of friends now, you know’… The Twins got 30 years!”

“Nipper Read,” I said, “was an unusually straight copper, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” Micky agreed. “Nipper Read was straight. But he weren’t straight with me.”

“When?” I asked.

“Just after the Twins had been arrested and I had been acquitted, I applied to the British Boxing Board of Control for a licence to train a boxer – which they gave me, after checking me out. Then, a couple of weeks later, they asked me to come back again and Nipper Read was there and James Morton, his mouthpiece.” (James Morton was then a lawyer, but later wrote books with Mad Frank Fraser and about gangland in general).

Micky Fawcett ‘gloving up’ Funs Banjo

Micky Fawcett ‘gloving up’ Funso Banjo for a boxing match

“They were part of the Board of Control,” Micky explained, “and they said: Your licence has been rescinded. You were granted one by the Southern Area Council but now the full Board has discussed it and you can’t have a licence. You knew the Kray Twins.

“I said: Well, a lot of people knew the Kray Twins. Everybody knew the Kray Twins.

Yeah, they said, but you knew them more than most. So they stopped me getting a licence, despite the fact I had been acquitted in court.”

“But,” I said, “You got a licence eventually.”

“Yeah, but it took years and not getting one ruined me, because I had a boxer and he didn’t want to be trained by someone who the Board of Control didn’t consider to be a fit person to have a licence – despite the fact I had been acquitted in court and I had stopped speaking to the Twins and we were trying to kill each other… Nipper Reid was a nasty little man. But it was deeper than that.”

“In what way?” I asked.

Micky Fawcett’s boxer Funs Banjo

Micky Fawcett’s boxer Funso Banjo (Photograph from Krayzy Days)

“What happened was Terry Lawless and Mickey Duff and Mike Barrett and Co had Frank Bruno. And I had a black heavyweight boxer called Funso Banjo – his real name was Babafunso Banjo. And they were afraid I would topple Bruno. They didn’t want anyone to spoil the Bruno patch and that is why they took my licence away. To make it really difficult for me. Funso Banjo ended up boxing Joe Frazier’s son.

“And Funso’s son Ashley Modurotolu Banjo won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.”

“Doing what?” I asked.

“Dancing. He was a ballet dancer. He’s the leader of Diversity, the dance troupe. He’s performed at the London Palladium and been introduced to the Queen. Never been in any trouble. He’s done well.”

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Comedian Malcolm Hardee, The Krays and The Richardsons and a film director

Malcolm Hardee on the BBC TV show Diners

Malcolm Hardee on the BBC TV show Diners. He was drunk.

Because (to be honest) of time constraints on my originality, here is another extract from the autobiography of Malcolm Hardee, godfather to British alternative comedy – I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake – now tragically out-of-print.

Malcolm was not a man un-acquainted with the law and with prison and detention centres.


I Stole Freddie Mercy’sBirthday Cake

He did steal Freddie Mercury’s cake…

When you are taken from court, the police are in charge of you. When you get to the detention centre or prison, the Screws – the warders – are in charge. When you arrived at Blantyre House, the routine was that the Screws said:

“Stand up against that wall!”

Then they just whacked your head straight into the side of the wall.

I watched this through a gap in the door and saw them do it to the three blokes before me. But they didn’t do it to me because of my glasses. So I didn’t get the full treatment. But life at Blantyre House was very hard.

You had to run about four miles with medicine balls under your arms and get up at six o’clock to do press-ups every morning and drill like in the Army:

“Quick march! Slow march! Get in line!”

They had a swimming pool and on May 1st, whatever the weather, you had to do four lengths of the swimming pool. This particular May was one of those cold ones and the swimming pool had a thin layer of ice on it. Someone just forced us all to dive in it. They worked you like demons. I got solitary confinement for two days, in a damp cell on bread and water, just for shouting out: “Bollocks!” at some point during a football match.

I was in Blantyre House in 1968 when the gangsters who were thought to be untouchable were put behind bars: The Krays (Ronnie and Reggie). They only operated in London’s East End and it has become over-magnified how important they were. They were just one of many gangs. The Richardsons (Charlie and Eddie) were operating in South East London and they weren’t quite so high profile. The good ones, of course, are the ones you don’t read about  – the Frenches were well known for local villainy and drew very little publicity. I was just on the very vague periphery of all this as they were a lot older and in a different league.

Eddie Richardson was involved in a big shooting at Mr Smith’s, underneath The Witchdoctor. It was a inter-gang thing. They all met down the gaming club and this bloke got shot and was bleeding all over the place from an artery. ‘Mad Frankie’ Fraser (the Richardson’s infamous ‘enforcer’) hit a bloke who subsequently died and ‘Mad Frankie’ himself was shot in the thigh. He got outside and the police found him lying in a front garden round the corner in Fordel Road, Catford, where my Aunt Rosemary and Uncle Doug – the ones connected with the train crash – were then living. His mates had just left ‘Mad Frankie’ there. A bit inconsiderate to the neighbours.

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. As comedian Lee Hurst says, the Blind Beggar must be the biggest pub in the world. Every time you meet a London taxi driver he was in the Blind Beggar the day Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell.

Some people say the Krays wouldn’t have been big if there hadn’t been the shooting in the Blind Beggar. But these days people are getting shot all the time. In the paper yesterday there was a bloke shot in a pub in Yorkshire at lunchtime. I suppose The Krays were setting a trend.

The Krays also had that showbiz thing about them. They actually owned a club;  the actress Barbara Windsor was a girlfriend of Charlie Kray and later married Ronnie Knight who worked for The Krays; and the Conservative politician Lord Bob Boothby, whose mistress had been Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s wife, was having it off with Ronnie, the gay Kray.

The film about The Krays was wrong on almost everything, really. I saw part of it being filmed in Greenwich, which was the wrong place to begin with. They’d done-up this street to look like 1934 when the twins were born and there was a scene where Billie Whitelaw was coming out of a door as their mother. I was watching this scene being shot with a friend. We were sitting in a place called Lil’s Diner, a local cafe, where a lot of lorry drivers go. The director was trying to get it right and first an aeroplane went over, then a lorry drove past and then someone coughed loudly and, on about the 5th or 6th take, he got it right and it was all quiet and the light was right and the sun was out and Billie Whitelaw came out the door with this double pram with two kids in it and one of the lorry drivers yelled out:

“So which one’s the poof, then?”

The director went mad.

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My Top Ten biggest blog hits – Maybe I should forget comedy and turn to crime

Pencil_CUTYesterday, there were a lot of hits on a non-comedy-related piece I wrote in 2013.

This blog is often called a comedy blog, but the statistics of all-time highest hits on specific pieces are interesting. Only three out of the top ten are actually comedy-related.

On my Twitter page, I say: “I blog daily about interesting people doing creative things.”

And who am I to disbelieve myself?

But it is more complicated than that.

My ten blogs with the most hits are:

No 1
JIMMY SAVILE: THE BIRTH OF A PAEDOPHILE HOAX ON “HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU”

No 2
FEMINIST FEMALE COMEDIANS AGREE THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF RAPE IN EDINBURGH

No 3
HOW THE EDINBURGH FRINGE IS FINANCED: THE ARTICLE WHICH YOU CANNOT READ IN THIS MORNING’S EDITION OF “THE SCOTSMAN”

No 4
WHAT THE TAXI DRIVER TOLD ME ABOUT THE PROSTITUTES AND THE CRIMINAL FAMILIES

No 5
JIMMY SAVILE: THE INFAMOUS “HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU” TRANSCRIPT FROM 1999

No 6
KRAYZY DAYS – WHY LONDON GANGSTER RONNIE KRAY REALLY SHOT GEORGE CORNELL INSIDE THE BLIND BEGGAR PUB IN 1966

No 7
THE STORY TWO-FACED TONY BLAIR/BLIAR SUCCESSFULLY HID FROM THE BRITISH PUBLIC

No 8
THE QUIET MEN: ‘MAD’ FRANK FRASER, MALCOLM HARDEE AND JOHN McVICAR

No 9
CABINET MINISTER CHRIS HUHNE AND THE CONVENT-RAISED COMEDIAN

No 10
THE DEATH OF A UK BOXER LINKED TO THE SADISTIC MURDERS OF PROSTITUTES BY SERIAL KILLER ‘JACK THE STRIPPER’

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What connects gangster Ronnie Kray & a famed gentle folk singer of the 1960s?

The front page of the funeral service

The front cover of Laurie’s funeral service

Three days ago, I posted a blog about gangster Reg Kray’s funeral. It happened today in 2000.

When I was talking to my chum Lou for a blog last month, there was a collection of funeral ‘programmes’ on a shelf in his living room. One had a picture of a couple being married. It was the running order for the funeral at the City of London Crematorium of Laurie O’Leary, who died on 27th April 2005.

He was a music business manager, tour manager and lifelong friend of gangsters The Kray Twins, Reg and Ronnie.

Ronnie Kray: A Man Among Men was a bestseller

Ronnie Kray: A Man Among Men

In 1963, Laurie O’Leary managed part of the Krays’ Knightsbridge club Esmeralda’s Barn. In 1966, he managed Sibylla’s club, partly owned by Beatle George Harrison. In 1968, for ten years, he managed the legendary ‘A’ List music business club The Speakeasy.

He tour managed acts including Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, Peggy Lee and Otis Reading.

In 2002, he published a book Ronnie Kray: A Man Among Men.

“They said Laurie used to drink champagne for breakfast every day,” Lou told me.

The back page of Laurie's funeral service

The back page of Laurie’s funeral service

“Where did he get his money from?” I asked.

“Music!” said Lou. “The first time he brought Motown to England, we weren’t ready for it.

“The American acts came over, he paid them and he lost everything.

“But, when he brought them back a second time, he made a fortune. Stevie Wonder was on TV on Ready Steady Go.

“I went to Laurie’s funeral. Nice do. Lovely send-off.”

Lou told me about a letter from the imprisoned Ronnie Kray to Laurie O’Leary.

“It said something along the lines of: Hello Laurie. I’ve been sent a tape. I’ve had a listen to it. I think it’s quite impressive. I think we should sign him up. He calls himself Donovan.

“I dunno how Ronnie Kray ended up with all these musician types sending him tapes,” said Lou, “but he did.”

My copy of Donovan’s A Gift From a Flower To a Garden

My own copy: Donovan’s A Gift From a Flower To a Garden

In my erstwhile youth, I was a big fan of Donovan.

I have no idea if Laurie O’Leary took up Ronnie Kray’s talent-spotting tip.

But the thought of mad-as-a-March-Hare hard man Ronnie Kray listening appreciatively to gentle Hare Krishna-ish Donovan’s hippyish music is, at the very least, incongruous.

Donovan’s videos on YouTube include a live version of his song Mellow Yellow. Fourteen?

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Lemonade, opera and poofs: domestic life – at home with gangsters The Krays

Tom Hardy as Ronnie (left) and Reggie Kray

Tom Hardy stars in Legend as Ronnie (left) AND Reggie Kray

Next year, at least two movies are going to be released about British gangsters The Kray Twins – Reggie and Ronnie.

The mooted Rise of The Krays is said to come from the same stable as Rise of the Footsoldier.

Higher profile is Legend, starring Tom Hardy as both Kray brothers and written/directed by Brian Helgeland who won an Oscar for scripting L.A.ConfidentialIt is based on John Pearson’s book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins, but the movie focusses mostly on Reggie Kray.

Apparently, in Legend, there is a scene in which Reggie Kray climbs up a drainpipe to his future wife Frances’ window with a bunch of flowers in his hands, like some latter-day Romeo courting his Juliet.

“I can’t think of no-one in the world less likely to do that sort of thing,” Micky Fawcett told me when we chatted at the May Fair Hotel in London’s West End.

Mickey, as readers of previous blogs will know, has done that rare thing – written a realistic and unglamourised insider’s view of what life with the Krays was like – in his book Krayzy Days.

Krayzy Days by Micky Fawcett

Living Krayzy Days with Micky Fawcett

“I was surprised,” I said, “when I first heard Reggie was bisexual. I thought he was totally straight and Ronnie was the gay one.”

“Apparently,” said Micky, choosing his words carefully, “before I knew him, as a younger man, he indulged in bisexual activities but, by the time I knew him, he was trying to leave that behind him and he weren’t particularly sexually motivated at all. He didn’t want to be known as a gay – though the word ‘gay’ wasn’t common at that time. He didn’t want to be known as a poof.”

“Ronnie was openly gay,” I said.

“But Ronnie didn’t care,” said Micky. “He was in and out of prison and open about it all. I didn’t know that Reggie was until a fellah I was with said: You know, they’re queer, them two? I said: What? They can’t be. Are you sure? Nah!

“He said: I’m telling you. They are! You’ve only gotta watch. You know. Them young boys around the billiard hall…

“Reggie was trying to get on with his life and then he met Frances (his future wife). Apparently he met her cos he went round to her house to speak to her brother on some unimportant business and she opened the door. She was fifteen and wearing a gymslip and Reggie… fell in love with her… as it were.

“He had an ambition to open a flower shop because the American gangster Dean O’Banion had had one and it was also the done thing to have a beautiful woman on your arm if you were a gangster. He didn’t have one and Frances fitted the bill. He wanted… eye candy, I guess.

“Being a possessive type of person, he wanted to possess her and that got worse and worse and worse. He put her on a pedestal. All he wanted to do was buy her things and make a fuss of her while she wanted to live a life with things that women and young girls normally want – such as children and sex.

Micky Fawcett (left) with Reggie Kray and Frances

Micky Fawcett (left) with Reggie Kray and his wife Frances

“Once Reggie and Frances were married, he couldn’t adjust to that type of normal life. Normal to him was get up in the morning, have something to eat, go out blagging people round the various car sites, getting on with ‘business’ and then, in the evening, go home, freshen up, go out and carry on the same kind of thing but in drinking clubs and nightclubs.

“One day, Reggie said to me: I’m going to have a night in tonight. I’m not looking forward to it, but I gotta have a night in.

“Next day, I asked him: How was the night in?

Oh, he said, I wondered where everybody was. I wondered what you were doing. It was driving me mad. He told me about the list of things he’d bought. He’d bought himself bags of crisps and bottles of lemonade and anything he thought normal people got for something to do in the night-time.

“It was like an experiment for him. I’d never ever known him to have a night in.

Micky Fawcett (right) with Ronnie Kray (left) & boxer Sonny Liston,

Micky Fawcett (right), Ronnie Kray (left) & Sonny Liston

“Ronnie would have nights in, but surrounded by young boys and anything else he could think of. He took a shine to singing. Ronnie liked tenors. He liked listening to them. So he’d get people round and listen to tenors and people would be sitting there listening, frightened to look this way or that way and say: Very nice, Ron. Very nice.

“I walked in there one day when he was playing his music. He said Very good, innit, Mick? and I said Yeah. Who is it, Ron? Mario Lanza?

No, he said. Harry Secombe.” (One of The Goons comedy group.)

“So Ronnie liked to sit and listen to opera?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said Micky, “But Reggie never had nights in. That one night he did have in, Frances would have been sat there and Reggie would have been sat there and they would have been just looking at each other.”

“They didn’t have long conversations?” I asked.

“Nah!” said Micky. “She wasn’t very talkative. I never knew her to hardly talk to anybody. She just looked around wide-eyed, maybe doing her nails.”

“People were justifiably frightened of The Krays,” I said.

Micky Fawcett, with son Michael, talked to me at the May Fair hotel

Micky Fawcett and son Michael met me at the May Fair hotel

“One night,” Micky said, “Reggie and me was sitting in the Grave Maurice pub in Whitechapel – before he married Frances – and Reg said: Mick, can I have a word with you? He said: I was sitting outside Frances’ in me car last night and a car came round the corner and somebody’s dropped her home. I’ve got Johnny Hutton to HPI it (Hire Purchase Investigation – to find out whose car it is) and I’ve got the fellah’s name and address. Can we do something about it?

“I said: Let me check it out first, Reg, eh? and I went home.

“So, about 5 o’clock the next morning, there was a tapping on my window. It was Reggie and he said: Can we do something about it tonight? I must find out. I can’t sleep. He was in a terrible state. It was that possessive thing I mentioned. I said: I’ll go round there and see what can be done. But I can’t go now; it’s 5 o’clock in the morning.

“So we drove around for about an hour or more, talking, with me calming him down. I told him: My mate Stevie Tucker lives down the other end of the road. I’ll drop you off there.

“So Reggie went in and sat with Lou, Stevie’s wife. I got in Stevie’s car and we had a drive round to where the fellah lived.

“I knocked on his door and the fellah came out all cocky – it’s Sunday morning; he’s got no shirt on – What d’ya want, mate? he says.

“I told him: You were seen with Reggie Kray’s girlfriend last night.

“He went: Whaatt!!!???? and he run indoors, shut the door – this is the truth – opened the letter box and said: Speak through here!

“I said: I don’t want your wife to hear.

“He says: I don’t care if me wife hears! Anything you like! I don’t mind! I don’t mind!

“Eventually, I got him to open the door again and he came out and he was crying. I’m sorry, he was saying. I dunno; I dunno.

Alright, I said. Calm down. Calm down. You’ve been fucking warned and you’re getting away with it for the moment. Behave yourself. 

“And he was crying and crying and went back in the house.

“I went back to pick up Reggie and said: What’s happened… That fellah was a friend of her father’s. She’d been round her father’s house and he dropped her off. 

“Then Reggie said a strange thing. He said: She ain’t pregnant, is she, Mick?

“I said: How can she be fucking pregnant? He just give her a lift from her dad’s.

Alright, alright, Reggie says. You sure about that, though, ain’t you?

“The end of it was the fellah’s wife said to somebody else in Upton Park: I’m going to stab that Micky if I see him. Just because my husband got drunk in one of their clubs and made himself a bit of a nuisance, he come round on Sunday morning and  started on him.

Ronnie Kray died of a heart attack in prison in 1995.

Reggie Kray died in 2000 shortly after being released from prison on medical grounds (an inoperable bladder cancer).

Reggie’s wife Frances committed suicide in 1967.

So it goes.

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