Reg and Ron Kray with Fred Dinenage
I decided to order this book from the library, after seeing the most recent film revolving around the Kray twins. I was curious about how close to the truth the film makers had gotten, and also wanted to find out more about Frances, Reg’s wife.
It’s a easy read, and Dinenage clearly had conducted many interviews with both brothers, over the course of his research. It was well structured, and gave equal space to both brothers. There were some things that I wasn’t familiar with, such as a inmate who swears at the governor could get seven days in solitary confinement.
It was interesting to see different sides to the twins, as the public persona obviously is of two people who were only interested in violence. However Reg in particular seems to have been a generous and kind person, a letter he had received detailing the fact that he had helped a homeless couple, giving them a flat and helping the man get a job. Of course one good act doesn’t redeem a man for all the violence that he was responsible for, but that, and the affection he clearly held for his wife, his mother, and his brothers, as well as certain friends like Diana Dors, prove that he was not wholly bad.
Jack McVitie, the man Reg was responsible for killing, seems to have been even worst in his violent streak. Reg tells of a woman that McVitie threw out of a car going at forty miles a hour, breaking her back, and the fact that McVitie cut a man’s face to ribbons in a nightclub (reason left unsaid), wiped the knife on a woman’s dress and was prepared to do the same to her because she screamed.
There is a section just about Frances and the Krays’ mother, Reg claiming that he was not responsible for Frances’ drug taking, but not trying to dismiss his own faults in the situation that she found herself in. The film by and large did paint the marriage correctly, although one of the biggest things that seems to be untrue, in the marriage was that Reg raised his hand to her.
Their mother evidently was a average mother, loving and supportive, if a little blind, as even when they were children she didn’t believe that they had ever hurt another child. The funeral is described by Ron, and he also tells of a conversation he had with a man named Billy Hill, who valued both brothers enough to say that ‘if I could share some of your sentence I would be willing’.
It’s a well researched book, which offers those that are not very familiar with the wider world of the Krays, a new insight into their background, and the connections that they had with both celebrities and ordinary people.