This is often described as a blog about comedy, but it is really about sub-cultures.
“Did you ever meet Roy Shaw?” he asked me.
Wikipedia currently says Roy Shaw “was an English millionaire, real estate investor, author and businessman from the East End of London who was formerly a criminal and Category A prisoner.”
By 1974, he had already spent around 18 years in more than 22 different prisons.
But he is most remembered now for his career as an unlicensed boxer.
The selling blurb on Roy’s 1999 autobiography Pretty Boy (written with Kate Kray) says:
“I don’t huff or puff or growl at anyone. But I live by a merciless code. For me violence is simply a profession… I wouldn’t hurt women, children or the ordinary man in the street. But if you are a man and you take a liberty with me or cross me, then believe what I say, when it comes to retribution, I have no pity or conscience.”
“I think I only met him a couple of times,” I told Micky. “I think I drove him home once after a film shoot. I think he was a bit punch drunk by the time I met him.”
“He got sectioned,” Micky said. “You know what for?”
“What?” I asked.
“Punching people,” said Micky.
“Habit,” I suggested.
“He kept punching everybody,” said Micky. “I knew him when I weighed 5 stone 2 pounds.”
“Five stone?” I asked.
“We were boxing as children,” said Micky. “I seen him when he was a kid, running about. He was a real character. When he was in Borstal, he escaped by tying a psychiatrist up. I was Essex Schoolboy Champion or something. I think Shawy might have gone further. He was lighter than me. He must have got bigger all of a sudden. Maybe with the help of a few steroids.”
“He wasn’t very tall,” I said.
“No,” agreed Micky.
“And he had some rather dodgy eyes,” I suggested.
“That’s right, yeah,” said Micky. “Have I told you about the night I had out with Shawy?”
“Did it involve elephants?” I asked.
“Elephants?” Micky asked. “What’s that? Slang? Elephant’s trunk; drunk?”
“I just like stories with elephants in.”
“I can’t help you there,” said Micky.
“Ah well,” I said.
“Anyway,” said Micky, “I had a memorable night out with him. He told me: Listen, I done a robbery recently. I’ve got the money but they’ve got the numbers.”
“Numbers?” I asked.
“He had robbed the Daily Mirror, I think it was – and he had the money, but they had the numbers on the notes.”
“The serial numbers?” I asked.
“Yeah. So he said: I just wanna spend it. Get rid of it. Fancy a night out in the West End?
“So off we went to the Bagatelle nightclub (in Cork Street, Mayfair) and there was all the girls and the booze and the champagne and whatever you wanted and Shawy was paying for everything. It was a decent nightclub. Hostesses and all that. Jack Fox owned the Bagatelle,
“I went to have a slash in the toilet, came out and Jack Fox said: Excuse me. See your mate in there? He came down here the other night and he was chewing glasses.
“He could chew glasses. Have you ever heard of that?”
“There used to be a man,” I said, “called Monsieur Mangetout.”
“Anyway, I told Jack Fox,” Micky continued, “Don’t worry. He’ll be alright. He’s a mate. Don’t worry about him. He’ll be as good as gold.
“We were having everything we wanted but Shawy couldn’t get rid of the money because, at the end, Jack Fox gave him a very small bill: £5 or something.
“So we went on to another drinking club, Shawy’s went behind the bar, got the geezer out and said: I’m gonna have a lay down. And he lay down behind the bar and that’s as much as I can remember.
“On another occasion, he was on his way home one night and there was a little drinking club in Aldgate owned by the Malones: Charlie & Willy. They were the people you ‘spoke to’ in Aldgate. Gambling, SP Office: take bets over the phone. They had this little drinking club. Aldgate was a rough area back in them days: in the 1950s. Around 1958; maybe even before.
“Anyway, Shawy wandered in there on his way home. And Willy Malone said: I don’t want you in here, ‘performing’. And Shawy said: What you talking about? Look, I’ve come to have a drink. I’m not looking for trouble. You seem to think I am, but I’m not. And Shawy pulled out a huge knife and said: Look! and threw it on the floor. There you are, he said, now I’m harmless. I’m not looking for trouble.
“And, at that point, Willy Malone has gone and hit him on the chin – Shawy’s pissed – and knocked him out.
“When Shawy was out, they told Willy Malone: You know who that geezer is? Oh! He’s a fucking monster! He’ll kill you! He didn’t know the strength of him.
“When Shawy came round, they had gone.
“Willy Malone came and saw The Twins. They didn’t really like Shawy, because they were jealous of anyone with a bit of a reputation. So they didn’t do much to help or anything like that.
“But then Willy Malone was walking along in Whitechapel late one night and Shawy saw him and went up to him and said: I think me and you had better take a walk and have a talk, hadn’t we? And then he chinned Willy Malone.”
“It all ended happily then,” I said.
“Unless,” said Micky, “you was Willy Malone.”
“Mmmm,” I said.
“Shawy was in a massive armoured car robbery,” said Micky. “£87,000. This was back in 1963 in Kent. Most of the people who were on it got nicked, maybe all of them. I didn’t know ‘em all. Shawy got nicked because he was driving about in a white Mercedes-Benz sports car which he’d bought straight away – the next day or a couple of days later. He was on the dole at the time.”
Roy was sentenced to 18 years.
He ended up in Broadmoor, where he was given experimental ECT treatment to make him less violent. The result, according to the doctor at Broadmoor, was to make him “even more aggressive and unpredictable”.
“He was married,” Micky told me. “He was in Malta with his wife at some point or other but that was way, way, way back. I dunno what happened.”
“When I met him,” I said, “I think he was on dating sites.”
“You know what happened to him, don’t you?” Micky asked me.
“He did quite well. He was in the unlicensed boxing business and then they had him as a doorman and he was popular around that time. He was a big name.
“But he went on dating sites and he met a bird who robbed him of every penny. He had a house and a Rottweiler dog and everything he wanted but she sorted him. Took all his money.”
According to the Daily Telegraph’s 2012 obituary of him, “in 2009 he won a court battle with Linda Finnimore, a 43-year-old blonde who had acted as a manager when he was a boxer. Ms Finnimore claimed that she was Shaw’s ‘common law wife’ and that he had given her more than £600,000 in a share of profits from a £2.6 million land sale. But the judge accepted Shaw’s claim that he was a ‘Mr Trusty’ who had been taken for ‘a right mug’ by a ‘natural fraudster’ 30 years his junior.”
So it goes.