What is true and what is not? The exaggeration of events has gone on since time began, and it is done usually for self-promotion. The memoirs of former criminals is the stand-out in this respect. Let us go back to an old villain from the East End named Arthur Harding. His stories generally changed over the years and cannot be classed as a true account of his activities. We can move onto the truly first big bullshit artist and that was Jack Spot. This alleged "hero" of the East End came to prominence with the celebrated "Battle of Cable Street" with the Blackshirts of Oswald Mosley. He bravely led a charge against the ring of personal bodyguards of Mosley, all allegedly huge all-in wrestlers. Spot battered one nicknamed "Roughneck" with a chair leg that was filled with lead. All very good, but there is a massive problem here: The "Battle of Cable Street" never took place! Mosley was advised by the Police not to march and rather than be seen to be in conflict with the Police, he did not march. Yet, here was Spot trading on a story that was pure fantasy. And, it was far from the last fairy tale he told.
The memoir of Spot`s "Man of a thousand cuts" ghostwritten by an American pulp fiction writer under the name of Hank Jansen, was full of "Newcastle Fred", "Edgeware Road Sam" and other various names. In the final analysis, Spot was nothing but a thug, and liked to use the media, in the same way that Billy Hill had the journalist Duncan Webb eulogising himself. The huge difference between Hill and Spot was that Hill was a genuinely intelligent and very organised man. A mastermind. Something that those "Heroes of the East End" the Krays, never were.
A puzzle has been the not very well publicised fact that the Krays never bothered a family from the East End. The Tibbs family. Two books, one by former cop Bert Wickstead, the other by Robert Murphy, mention this fact. It seems that everybody else suffers from amnesia. The Krays themselves suffered these attacks when it came to them being told to leave Manchester by the cops and their aborted attempt to move into Liverpool. A cop shoved a gun under Reg Krays` chin and told him in no uncertain terms, never to return there. A convenient memory loss for these events. What about the alleged beating Ron Kray received from George Cornell? Surely this would have been a major talking point. Is this story that should not be told in case it destroys the legend? Legend? My arse!