So, a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a journalist:
“I am looking for more information on Teddy Smith’s background….particularly place and date of birth, but in fact anything… Is there any chance you can help? I’m interested in Smith because of certain connections to other areas of research, namely political issues.”
I have blogged about Teddy Smith before. He was an associate of the Kray Twins, London gangsters in the 1960s.
So last week I had a chat with my chum Micky Fawcett, author of Krayzy Days, a definitive book on the Krays which goes beyond them into Micky’s dealings with the Unione Corse, the US Mafia et al.
Micky told me: “The full story with me and Teddy Smith is that there’s no story. He was one of those people who was just there and it was as if he’d always been there. I dunno where he came from.
“I remember walking out of the (Krays’) house one time and he said: They get on my nerves. It’s so boring. Talking about violence all the time. Any type of violence. It gets on my nerves. They oughta know what I did to get myself certified and into Broadmoor. And that was the end of that conversation. He told people he was the youngest person ever in Broadmoor. He was sent there as a borstal boy. I dunno if that’s true. But it’s what he told people.”
“So he must have been under 23 when he went into Broadmoor?” I asked.
“I dunno where or when he was born. He had relations who lived at the top of Dartmouth Park Hill in Highgate. He was a bit sort of middle class.”
“What was he doing for the Krays?” I asked.
I looked at Micky.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “I never give it a second thought. He was just there. He used to walk around with a little dog and a cigarette holder. He was gay, but he weren’t camp. Nothing effeminate. And you just accepted it: Oh, yeah, he’s gay. I told you before about that time we met Francis Bacon, the painter. I didn’t like the look of him. Francis Bacon. Well, I weren’t impressed.”
“This bloke who got in touch with me,” I said, “seems to think there’s some political angle with Teddy Smith, which I don’t think there is, is there?”
“No,” said Micky, “but the connection would be Tom Driberg the MP – I’ve seen writers since say he and Teddy Smith were lovers. I dunno if that’s true or not.”
“Well,” I said, “Tom Driberg did put it about a lot.”
“I didn’t know who Driberg was at the time,” said Micky. “Didn’t care. He was just this tall feller standing around.”
“He was supposed to be,” I said, “a Soviet agent working via the Czechs.”
“Ah, was he?” said Micky. “He used to be a cottager, hanging around in gents toilets.”
“Did you ever meet Lord Boothby?” I asked.
Lord Boothby was a peer of the realm, a regular on TV panel shows and entertainment shows. An entertaining politician a bit like Boris Johnson is now. Except Boothby mingled with criminals as well as showbiz people and politicians. He put it about a lot.
“No, I never met Boothby,” Micky told me, “but a pal of mine did. We were at the billiard hall one day and a feller called Albert Lovett said to me: See that kid over there? He’s ‘avin’ an affair with Lord Boothby. I had never heard of Lord Boothby. Not interested. And Albert said: He’s been telling me what they do. He gets their trousers off, gets them to bend over and smacks their arse with a slipper… He was a burglar.”
“Who?” I asked. “Lovett?”
“No. Lovett was a con man. The kid – Leslie Holt – he was a burglar. Another pal of mine, called Boy Boy Clifford, was a receiver. He was quite well-respected among everybody. He came from Hoxton originally. Dead now.
“Leslie Holt took Boy Boy up to see Boothby and Boothby said: Hello… Hello… Get him a drink, Leslie. So Leslie went off and came back with a gin & tonic or whatever. And Boothby said: I said get him a fucking drink! You don’t call that a fucking drink, do you? Top it up! And they got talking and Boothby said to Boy Boy: Would you like to fuck my wife? That’s true. And that was a difficult one for poor old Boy Boy to answer.”
“Well,” I said, “supposedly Boothby had had a long-term affair with Harold Macmillan’s – the Prime Minister’s – wife.”
“I dunno if he meant it,” said Micky. “Would you like to fuck my wife? Maybe it was just a show-off. He was a terrible show-off, Boothby. He liked shocking people.”
“What,” I asked, “happened to Leslie Holt?”
“He got murdered in Harley Street by the dentist.”
“Because?” I asked.
“He knew too much. They doubled the… They gave him an injection… This is the newspaper story, not my story.”
“So who wanted him killed?” I asked.
“Upstairs. The powers that be. Or it might have been the dentist himself or his friends or… I dunno.”
Then Micky and I got talking about the ‘suicide’ of boxer Freddie Mills.
Freddie Mills was a major British boxer – a former world light heavyweight champion – a regular on TV panel shows and entertainment shows. A boxer-turned-TV personality a bit like Frank Bruno. Except Freddie Mills mingled with criminals as well as showbiz people.
His suicide is interesting because it has always been rumoured he was murdered. One widespread rumour is that he was murdered because he was ‘Jack The Stripper‘ – someone who had been going round killing prostitutes.
“I’ve heard there’s a chap who claims,” said Micky, “that he was duped into taking Freddie Mills to a spot where this chap’s father had hired two gunmen who came in from America, shot Freddie Mills and went away again. Mafia men.”
“Did he get killed because of the Jack The Stripper thing?” I asked.
“No. The story I was told is that Freddie Mills lost all his money and went downhill and got depressed and miserable and threatened to blackmail this guy who had connections with the Mafia who got him shot.”
“He was going to blackmail him because of his criminal connections?” I asked.
“Yes. It was at the time when the Mob were in the West End in London.”
“The time when actor George Raft was coming over?” I asked.
“Exactly,” said Micky.
Mickey talked more about George Raft in a blog last year.
They were different times back then.
But yet not very different from today.
Human nature is human nature.