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159. Who Put The B.O In Bohemia?

Posted on: February 24th, 2013 by Colonel Crabtree-Smythe No Comments

Hello ladiesIronfoot Jack cartoon and gentleman here we go again. Such is life I suppose and all that goes with it but I fear that I have been stuck in the past these last few months and I like it there, it comforts me like a rifle from a bygone age. Smells trigger off memories as do songs and old movie scores but in this case it was a smell that reminded me of the days when Soho was a village, a place where everybody knew each other and gangsters fought over pavement space. I was made to remember a chap by the name of Iron Foot Jack or Jack Neave as his mother called him by the stench permeating from the body of Lindwall for it reminded me of the chap who we said put the B.O in Bohemia.

Iron Foot Jack is how I used to know him and how he was known by the Soho regulars he used to wear a Homburg hat, a big black cape held together by big silver clips he had a head of white hair and he had an iron foot as one of his legs was shorter than the other and I have to add the fecker stank to high heaven. I don’t think he washed or if he did he didn’t clean his attire. I often bought poetry off him just to clear him off and he once read my cranium as he had a keen interest in Phrenology or as he called it “street Phrenology.” I’m sure he was swinging the lead but people will buy into the strangest things. Although I have to say he did mention that I would one day reach the top of whatever pile I chose to reach the top of and I think in many ways that has come to fruition. Even though however I fear Sage Macorkadale cramps my style no end he has “robbed me of my natural sense of humour and nailed my bollocks to the wall” to quote Mr Love-pants himself.

Which reminds me of when I met a young Mr Love pants the late great Ian Dury in the “Cafe Bleu” many moons ago when I was having an in depth conversation with the King Of The Bohemians Iron Foot Jack probably in the late fifties / early sixties I can’t be too sure.

Now he was telling me of a very violent act that took place in the Admiral Duncan pub which also is on Olde Compton Street. The story goes that The Cobblestone kid (real name George Sewell) and father of the famous actor “George Sewell” of “Get Carter,” “The Sweeny,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” and “Dr Who” “Remembrance of the Daleks” fame. The story goes as far as I can recall…  on the 6th of February 1930 The Cobblestone Kid who had been asked to help a chap called Sid Baxter a Sabini gang man after a failed extortion attempt by Baxter on a fellow called Jim Macdonald. Baxter had tried to squeeze £10 out of Macdonald.

Macdonald had told Baxter where to stick it and bashed him one which ultimately meant that Baxter wanted revenge on Macdonald and had asked The Cobblestone kid for help. Point is a man by the name of Billy Kimber had asked the infamous Phillips brothers John and Arthur Toddy Phillips to help Macdonald against the brute Baxter and his hired hand George “Cobblestone Kid” Sewell, working on the principle as James Morton puts it in his book Gangland Soho “that blessed is he who gets his blow in first!”

So the Phillips brothers “John and Arthur” and four other men tracked down the Cobblestone Kid and found him in the Admiral Duncan Pub Soho where upon they jumped him beat him up and cut his throat with a piece of broken glass. Iron Foot Jack told me it was a nasty attack and not for the faint hearted and even he nearly threw up in his Homburg hat and that The Cobblestone Kid didn’t stand a chance.

I know that The Kid did a runner half dead and hid away down in Brighton with his boss Darby Sabini. The Phillips brothers paid with hefty sentences and they disappeared from Soho life soon after. So I was listening to Jack waffle on trying not to breathe through my nose and then this “raspberry ripple” walked in hobbling away and he declared to all within ear shot.

“Hello I’m Ian and I wear a caliper leg brace! What’s your affliction? We all ave em.”

Jack replied by saying,”I don’t work, don’t need it, don’t do it, have a cup of tea mate!”

Ian laughed and ordered a coffee that’s when Jack took out his poems and tried to sell them to Ian and his party. Ian then looked at me and he asked in a friendly tone, “where did you get that hair cut… Marks And Spencer?”eying me up sideways. I replied that it was a military cut performed by a young lad called Gavin and that I only bought my sandwiches in Marks and Spencer as I liked their luncheon meat.

“I’d tell Gavin to stick it if I was you!” Ian replied “he’s made you look like a right whelk,”

“fair enough” I replied ” I will tell him not the bother next time I suppose you get what you pay for. I mean if I look like a whelk Gavin will have to go!”

“Why bother eh?” said Ian as his coffee arrived.

I gave them all the once over “Art Students!” I thought to myself and that’s when I called Ian over and told him about my bats wing. He seemed interested in the subject so I showed it to him and I have to say he was very impressed and a night of laughs and fun transpired. Ian went on to be a successful vocalist in the Blockheads and rightly so he was marvelous as a performer, he reminded me of Harry Champion and Quentin Crisp with out the fisting of course, especially when he did a pissed version of “Any old Iron.”

Which leaves me wanting to leave on a song which I cant so it will be a poem for you delectation and delight.

Razors and Races

There he goes olde Arthur Toddy Phillips with his cut throat razor blade
he was the dean of the dippers he was my great grand pa
spending his days all smart and audacious trying to look born and bred
diamonds and daisys at Ascot with ladies geezers from Hoxton square

Cut throats at the races, cut throats and crazes twas yesterday.
round and round the scenic railway,oh for one more sunny day.
picking pockets at music halls and pulling strokes at market stalls.
and Aunt Kate said he looked like a tally man.Razors and races.

Two pints and a whiskey for Johnny that was his brother you know,
taking their share with a fake debonair while Prince Monolulu chases the fat,
slashing the traces and day at the races while the looser is kicking the cat
and when the day is done half inch-in its back home to Nelly’s for tea.

“for little nan and boy boy.”

(J.J.T-D)

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