Y ears ago before the war I found myself in company with a fellow called Darby Sabini. I met the fucker in his local pub, Clerkenwell. He would frequent The Griffin with his Italian cohorts and sit there in the corner looking menacing. He was a strange little man an Irish/Italian with a background in boxing. As a youngster he’d been bookies runner. He grew up on the mean streets of Il Quartiere– Clerkenwell’s Italian sector. No doubt he was a tough guy and not someone to be trifled with and he was more than handy with a blade. I got chatting to him one evening, I was working under the covers at the time looking for the lost Jewish gold of Hatton Garden and I felt that I was definitely onto something as the name Alfie Solomons kept popping up throughout the evening, so I had to keep my cover maybe as it seemed Alfie might have some information as to its whereabouts. After spending an evening with Darby chatting about soccer, politics and horse racing he invited me to join him at his club near Euston.The Eden Social Club was situated in and around Tottenham Court Road. I found this all to be fascinating and I had a wonderful night listening to negro rhythms in the form of early jazz music and snorting cocaine in the lavatory with other such chaps. I had to fit in you see. I didn’t want anybody to know I was part of the establishment but I think they knew instinctively I was a high ranker they weren’t fools. We had finished our night, it was well past twelve and I was half drunk now standing/staggering under the Euston Arch. In fact I vomited on the foot of the arch and peed up it like a dog. While in mid flow, however, I heard a commotion, a lone man was standing opposite shouting up at a window that Harry Sabini and Alfie Solomons were dead men and that they should stay on their respective manners, also that Alf White had better watch his back and that he ought not to stray too far from his local the Bell House/Hennekeys on the Pentonville Road. A shot was then fired into the air, I got some pee on my leg as a result as it did surprise me somewhat. After all, I hadn’t heard shots fired since the Somme. I put my penis away and stumbled home up the Euston Road.While on my way I bumped into a well dressed chap outside Kings Cross, he had a razor scar across his cheek, his ear didn’t look too spiffing either. It seemed as though someone had tried to hack it off.
“Hello there!” I said as I made eye contact. “Are you alright?… looks like you been in the wars olde chap?”
“I’m fine!” Was the reply, hard and cockney
“Your ear… your ear, it’s bleeding” I said.
“It’s fine it’s fine!” was the reply. “It’s healing, it’s only a bit of claret.”
“Listen, I’m Cuthbert Smythe I could die for a drink. Is anywhere serving at this time? It’s my round.”
“Maybe.” The chap replied “Follow me!”
I followed and we ended up in a little bar near Smithfield meat market EC1. I think it was run by a Jew as the bar keeper had on a skull cap and so I asked him as I ordered our drinks if he knew where the lost Jewish gold was? He didn’t respond, if anything he looked irritated angry even and so I let it go, such is life I thought as my new companion and I drank whiskey together into the morning hours. It turned out that this chap was none other than John Phillips. A gangster and fighting man from Clerkenwell, and older brother of the notorious Arthur Toddy Phillips who like father before was a skilled pickpocket and villain, both were the sons of Arthur Phillips Sr and Annie Ryan, who it turned out were early members of the Titanic gang based out of Nile St just off the City Road and not far from the Eagle public house. John Phillips was one of the leaders of the Finsbury boys and an associate of Billy Kimber and the Macdonald clan and a sworn enemy of the Sabinis, the Solomons and Alf White. John had been attacked and cut a few days earlier at Brighton races by Alf and Henry Solomon, Jim Ford, and ex-boxer George Langham for refusing to pay £2 for the racing pitch that he stood on. John told me in strict confidence that a comeback was on the cards and I believed him. I found John to be a gentleman, generous and articulate. I thanked him for his hospitality as the sun was coming up, he shook my hand and I went home I watched as he disappeared into the Clerkenwell fog.
The next evening I was walking up Grays Inn Road headed for The Griffin. I wanted words with Sabini.I wondered if he had heard anything about the lost Jewish gold since our last meet. I liked Sabinis pub it had a good atmosphere as Russ Abbot once sang about, I quite liked Sabini, the mad psychotic lunatic that he was but I hadn’t warmed to him as much as I had John Phillips.I still do in fact like the Griffin as today it is a down market strip pub, tits everywhere and that’s just the punters but that is by the by. I was just about to cross the road from Grays inn, when all hell broke loose. It felt like I was in the wild west but this was London in the 1920s and it really was hellfire. To my right was the Yorkshire Grey pub a haunt for the Italian gangs and favored by Alf Whites Kings Cross firm/wankers. I spotted John Phillips and a group of men rush into the Yorkshire. I heard much shouting, some screaming and then the doors flew open and John and his crew rushed out and headed towards Holborn shooters in hand. I followed the commotion, perhaps this was the comeback that John had told me about. I followed them to the Red Bull pub in Holborn where the gang rushed through the doors and laid into some Sabini men. That’s when some of the Italian crowd tried to scarper like the cowards they are. Italian soft underbelly and all that, they ran pursued by the Phillips brothers and their mob, now out on the road again “Peeler” Detective Rutherford happened along and jumped straight into action, a revolver shot was fired at Rutherford, it missed. Two men carrying guns, I think one of them was Toddy Phillips ran away from the bottle stopper/copper into Portpool Lane… Shots still being fired. I decided it was best if I jumped back onto the Grays Inn Road tram to be well out of the way of any repercussions. I didn’t want my cover blown by the law or any gang members and I certainly didn’t want to get shot like I was Orwell in a Spanish trench.
I never saw John Phillips again after that night nor did I run into Sabini but I did bump into Alfie Solomons the boss of Camden Town in Hatton Garden. I was disguised as a Peaky Blinder and this drew Solomons in. I think he wanted information about the Birmingham boys. Solomons was a violent man, very intimidating, especially when I asked him if he knew where the lost Jewish gold was. In fact he got wild and asked if I was taking “The Arthur Bliss”… I think I offended the fellow, he pulled out a razor blade which was smeared in blood and came at me like he was Mossad on the charge, thats when my military training kicked in and memories of the siege of Mafeking swelled to the fore, what would Baden Powell have done? I must say I did panic a tad so I in defensive mode took out my witch doctored clacking testicles and began to clack, hoping to distract him somewhat, my dear bats wing to the rescue again. It had the desired affect, I shocked him, he was transfixed his eye balls swelled and he backed off called me a “clacking cunt” and he told me that if I ever spoke to him again regarding such matters of Jewish gold he would drown me in the Regents Canal with a nugget of it up my arris and send me packing back up to Brum land. I never did get my hands on the lost Jewish gold of Hatton Garden so instead I made my way to Berlin… Maybe I’d find some Jewish gold there.
Such heady days in London such characters, the mobs-men, pickpockets, cut throats and thieves. The Italians, The Jews, The Irish, The Cockneys. London gangland was just as vibrant and frightening as the Chicago and New York gangs of the same time. Maybe Al Capone knew the whereabouts of the lost Jewish gold of Hatton Garden. Never mind such is life, wishing you all well bless you all and please if you hear any news about lost Jewish gold please Tweet me or catch me on Facebook you bastards.