Sunday, 30 June 2013

Britain is still a country for an old farmer called Michael Eavis, an old arts festival at Glastonbury and an old rock band called the Rolling Stones

Michael is the 77 year old dairy farmer who founded the Glastonbury Festival, the  largest greenfield and performing arts festival in the world, 43 years ago when he was 34.

When asked why the Rolling Stones had agreed to appear at this year said : "Everybody's done it except them, you see. They knew they were conspicuous by their absence. This is England's pride and joy. Americans love it. We've been chosen as the best festival in the world so many years running" and " U2 did it two years ago as well. They didn't do it for money either. It cost them $2m to actually play here" and "Paul McCartney lost a lot of money here."

Of the old rockers, Mick and Keith are 69, Keith is 66 and Charlie is 72 giving them a combined age of 276 years ! Who says Britain is no country for old men ?

What you possibly didn't know about Michael, that he :

* was born Athelstan Joseph Michael to a mother who was a school teacher and father who was a Methodist preacher, was brought up on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somersetshire and, at the age of 9, attended as a boarder and was educated at the Wells Cathedral Public School.

* left school, joined the Thames Nautical College, then joined the Union-Castle Line, part of the Merchant Navy, as a trainee midshipman planning to spend 20 years at sea, returning with a pension to subsidise the income from the family farm.

* was called back to the 61 hectare farm with its 60 cows at the age of 22, after his father died in 1958 and has continued as a dairy farmer ever since.

* in 1969, after visiting the 'Bath Festival of Blues', was inspired by the performance of Led Zeppelin to host a free festival on his farm the following year with Marc Bolan, Al Stewart and 'Quintessence' on the bill with tickets selling at £1.

* in the early days, let in the skint and unemployed for nothing and the mid-80s, a convoy of travellers banned by the Army from Stonehenge who repaid him by burning 50 Land Rovers and forced him to consider stopping the Festival for good, but continued and formed a working relationship with one of the most obstreperous, installation artist Joe Rush, who has contributed regularly to Glastonbury ever since.

* after recovering from stomach cancer, stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party in the 1997 General Election and polled over 10,000 votes, suggested that disillusioned Labour voters should switch their vote to the Green Party to protest at the Iraq War, then resumed his support for the Labour Party in 2010.

 * in 2005, was quoted in 'The Guardian' as being a supporter of fox hunting. "I don't hunt myself, but I support the people who want to hunt. With all that's going on in the world, it was outrageous to ban it."

* in 2009, was nominated by 'Time Magazine'  as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world and in 2010, at the Festival's 40th anniversary, appeared on the main stage with headline artist Stevie Wonder to sing the chorus of  "Happy Birthday".

* is a Methodist by religion, who on the one hand doesn't either approve of drugs or think much of alcohol and can be heard railing : "Terrible drug, alcohol. The Muslims got it right on that, actually. If you've got responsibility, you shouldn't drink" but on the other hand takes risks and embraces freedom.

* in June 2011,was quoted as lamenting the decline in political activity associated with the Festival, when days later, a protest by 'Art Uncut' against U2s alleged hypocrisy on matters of taxation was stopped with force by Festival security.

* started the Festival with a £5,000 overdraft, now up to £1.3m and when asked : 'Could he pay it off?'  said : "I'd feel guilty if I did. Isn't it funny? Why? We give away £2m a year to Greenpeace, Water Aid, Oxfam, we do local stuff at schools and housing. It's really important to keep that going. I can't just pay off my overdraft and say, 'Sod that.'"

* said : "The programme's better than ever … I'm particularly looking forward to Nick Cave and Steve Winwood and wait till you see the new loos. No emptying – it goes straight into the ground. After 43 years, we've finally got the perfect loo."

 *  has had to turn away 500,000 people and of those coming has said : "Poor people have paid £200 for a ticket, another £200 to get here and food, so £400-500, and not to deliver to those people … that's what worries me more than anything. At 30 I didn't care that much, I just wanted to put a show on. When you get older, when you've got 17 grandchildren, you get more mature, and you get more concerned about people's wellbeing, don't you?"

* still regards himself as a farmer first and foremost and easier to reconcile with his Methodism : "Being a farmer is more authentic than organising Glastonbury. You're rearing cattle, you're feeding people. There's no branding, no sales pitch, it's just a natural way of living. There's no contamination, no transport, trains or planes. The festival has got a lot of other stuff – drugs, drinking, branding. It's a different thing. I love the Festival. That's why it's so successful – because I love it so much. But you offered me a preference, and I'm just telling you why I prefer the farm."

Pilton Tithe Barn* has apportioned profits from his Glastonbury Festival to support charitable causes, including local projects such as the restoration of the Tithe Barn in Pilton and is hoping to keep going to the 50th anniversary in 2020 when he'll be 84.

BBC documentary about Michael :

So there were the old rockers on stage last night opening with 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', with Mick Jagger prowling the stage in a green sequinned jacket and after 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)', joked that the organisers had "finally got round to asking us to play." He then belted out a total of 20 songs on the two hour set. After 'Satisfaction' he said : "We've been doing this for 50 years or something. And if this is the first time you've seen a band, please come again."

Michael's comment : "They finally did it, and it was fantastic. My God, did they deliver." Speaking immediately after the band came off stage, he called it "the high spot of 43 years of Glastonbury".

My post on the Rolling Stones last year :

Friday, 13 July 2012

Britain is still a country with a band of old musicians called The Rolling Stones

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old tv drama director called Jim Goddard

Jim, who has died aged 77, a prolific and distinguished director whose hallmarks were bleak, violent atmosphere and vivid characterisation had more than 200 works under his belt over four decades.

What you possible didn't know about Jim, that he :

* was born and bred a Londoner in 1936 in Battersea, South London whose father, Alf, was a director of John Bolding & Sons and Thomas Crapper Ltd, sanitary engineers and led Jim to claim that if his day job failed, he knew how to repair a lavatory.,

* left school and studied art at the Slade in London and then his love of set design, led him after graduation to the Royal Opera House, contributing to productions by Franco Zeffirelli and Luchino Visconti before he joined the ABC tv design department and worked most notably on 'The Avengers' in his mid twenties in the early 1960s.

* first achieved recognition as a director for his work on five episodes of ABC tv's arts magazine show, 'Tempo' from 1965 to '67, which led to his close friendship Trevor Preston and Mike Hodges who were influential in establishing 'Euston Films', a company which played an important role in the support of his burgeoning career.

* with Preston, created 'Out' in 1978, starring Tom Bell as 'Frank Ross', who prowled through mean and rotten London streets and was a combination of arthouse film techniques and pulp-fiction storytelling,  reminiscent of the films of Sam Fuller.

* again working with Preston, made the 13 part drama 'Fox' in 1980, which established him as a major director and with its opening panoramic sequence, a sweep across London, was perhaps a homage to Alfred Hitchcock.

* in 1980, directed Alan Bleasdale's 'The Black Stuff'', the  BBC 'Play for Today' and two years later, 'Nicholas Nickleby' a Channel 4 version of the Royal Shakespeare Company production.

* in 1983 directed 'Reilly: Ace of Spies' and 'Kennedy' which was filmed entirely on location in the US, starring Martin Sheen as President John F Kennedy and was shown simultaneously in the USA, Britain and Germany and achieved the highest recorded viewing figures to that date for a tv drama and earned him three Golden Globe nominations and a Bafta in 1984.

* in New York City,  took an hour off from filming 'Kennedy' to visit Bloomingdale's' to buy his girlfriend a handbag and was helped in his choice by an elderly lady wearing a mackintosh, scarf and dark glasses who asked : "Who is the handbag for?" and when he explained said : "My advice is that only the most expensive will do. Here, buy this one" and when told the lady was Greta Garbo said : "Strange birds often sing to me."

* in  1986, elected to direct 'Shanghai Surprise' starring Madonna and Sean Penn which was a critical disaster dismissed by one critic as "flop suey" and was marginally notable for the cameo role as nightclub singer by one of the film's producers, George Harrison and was nominated for six Golden Raspberry awards, winning one for Madonna as worst actress.

* recovered his reputation with direction of Steven Berkoff's adaptation of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' in 1987.

* apparently, had special empathy for actors who both respected and invariably loved him and to who he said : "Show me what you can do," and carried an encyclopedic knowledge of their abilities, mannerisms, gifts and faces, matched by an extraordinary facility to place regional accents, both British and American.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Britain is confirmed as no country for old men by its old men in their 'Shaping Our Age' report

A three-year research project, called 'Shaping our Age', which challenged the portrayal of old people and the assumptions that those providing services for them often make, published its report today.
Its findings are based on what old men and women in Britain themselves think and it concludes that :

* 71% say that they are 'rarely or never consulted on services that impact their life.'

* 61% think that society sees them as 'a burden'.

* 57% think that 'the media encourages the idea that older people are a problem for society.'

* 66% feel that 'they are stereotyped.'

* 56% think that old people 'are ignored.'

* 62%  'do not feel as old.'

* 61% 'don’t see age as important.'

* only 33% feel 'that the contribution that old people make to society is recognised.'

The Report also said of  traditional services for old people :
* whilst addressing important practical needs, can also encourage 'passivity and dependence.'

* do things 'for' old people rather than working alongside them, involving them and responding to what they themselves would like.

* are not used by 65% and of those who do those that do, one in ten feel that the services provided are neither 'not really what they want' nor are 'interesting or stimulating enough.'

* are considered by 16% to be 'stereotypical ones' which people think that 'old people would like.'

David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service Chief Executive, said:
“The fact that, as a society, we are living longer is a wonderful thing but the challenges that this brings with it has led to older people being seen as a burden. This Report lays out what many of us already know: that older people have a huge amount to give back to society and we should harness that expertise and enthusiasm to make services better for older people by involving them more in decision making. 'Shaping our Age' is an exciting and innovative research project which should act as a wake-up call for those of us providing services for older people.”
Professor Peter Beresford OBE, Director, Centre for Citizen Participation, Brunel University, said:
“The biggest issue older people see as needed for improving their well-being is more social contact and they want to play a bigger part in changing things for the better. Services for older people have to shift from a paternalistic ‘doing-to’ model to the ‘involvement-led’ approach older people value. What’s needed now are the twenty-first century equivalent of the old ‘Darby and Joan’ clubs, not just more of the same”.

Jennie Fleming, Reader in Participatory Research and Social Action, Centre for Social Action, De Montfort University, said:
“'Shaping our Age' clearly demonstrates the need to involve older people more in both the debate around their own well-being, but also the actual services that they use. Participation in activities makes a massive difference to an older person’s sense of well-being and that in turn can have a positive effect on loneliness, which we know has a knock on impact on mental and physical health.”

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Britain is no longer a country for a not nearly old Scots writer called Iain Banks who, perhaps, did not go gently into that good night

Fiction writer Iain Banks, who died on June 9th was barely an old man at the age of 59.

On the 18th April I posted :

Britain is a country which will soon say "Goodbye" to a brave, barely old, Scots novelist called Iain Banks

Now, less than two months later, he's gone.

I was moved by his last tv interview with Kirsty Wark :

Apparently, Iain was 87,000 words into, what was to become his last book, with 10,000 to go when he got the news about his terminal cancer. 'The Quarry', which was published 10 days after his death, is narrated by Kit, a typically precocious and alienated Banksian teenager, who lives with his father, Guy who, and here is the irony, is dieing from cancer, in a dilapidated house on the edge of a quarry.

Guy's student-day friends, Hol the film critic, prospective MP, Paul, power couple Alison and Rob and former couple Pris and Haze, a care services manager and general drifter, all descend on the house, with the covert aim of finding a video of a film they made together at university which could compromise several careers. The ostensible reason is that their friend Guy is dying of terminal cancer.

Iain said in his last interview for the Guardian : "God, I'd nearly finished the book when I found out. It was bizarre.Guy was always going to be dying of cancer; the book was always going to be predicated on that, and nothing really changed because of my own bad news."

Iain had  followed his usual schedule of writing in the early months of this year. He went his doctor thinking his sore back was most likely due to having been sitting at a desk writing 'The Quarry' and said that on the morning of 4th March, after he had been sent for a CT scan  : "I thought everything was hunky dory except I had a sore back and my skin looked a bit funny. By the evening of the 4th I'd been told I had only a few months to live. By that time I'd written 90% of the novel; 87,000 words out of 97,000. Luckily, even though I'd done my words for the day,

I'd taken a laptop into the hospital in Kirkcaldy, and once I'd been given the prognosis, I wrote the bit where Guy says, 'I shall not be disappointed to leave all you bastards behind.' It was an exaggeration of what I was feeling, but it was me thinking: 'How can I use this to positive effect?' Because I was feeling a bit kicked in the guts at this point. So I thought, 'OK, I'll just give Guy a good old rant.' Like I say; that's reality for you, it can get away with anything."

Iain denied that he was the dieing Guy :"I'm not Guy – for example, he deeply resents that life will go on without him. I think that's a stupid point of view. Apart from anything else, I mean, what did you expect?"

However, it was the part where the characters in 'The Quarry' play the old VHS recording, which he rewrote after getting the news about his approaching death :

"Right," Guy says, from the screen. "Obviously I don't actually want to die, but I am trying to find what positives I can in the shitty circumstances, and one of those is that I shall be glad to see the back of this poxy little country and this fucked-up world and this bunch of fucking morons constituting my fellow stakeholders in the species homo so-called sapiens."

If we do, however, 'read Iain for Guy', then he shall consider himself : "well rid of this island's pathetic, grovelling population of celebrity-obsessed, superficiality-fixated wankers."

He shall  not miss :

* "the institutionalised servility that is the worship of the royals – that bunch of useless, vapid, anti-intellectual pillocks"

*  " the cringing respect accorded to the shitting out of value-bereft Ruritanian "honours" by the government of the fucking day"

*  "the hounding of the poor and disabled and the cosseting of the rich and privileged."

* "the imperially deluded belief that what we really need is a brace of aircraft-free aircraft carriers and upgraded nuclear weapons we're never going to fucking use and which would condemn us for ever in the eyes of the world if we ever fucking did. Not that we can, anyway, because we can't fire the fucking things unless the Americans let us."

He shall not have to witness :

* "the drowning or the starvation through mass-migration of the destitute of Bangladesh or
anywhere else low-lying and impoverished"

He shall not have to listen to :

* "another fuckwit climate-change denier claiming that it's all just part of some natural cycle, or down to sunspots."

He shall not have to watch :

*  "our kleptocrat-captured governments find new excuses not to close down tax havens, or tax the rich such that the fuckers actually have to pay more than they themselves or their lickspittle bean-counters deem appropriate."

He shall not miss :

* "being part of a species lamentably ready to resort to torture, rape and mass-murder just because some other poor fucker or fuckers is or are slightly different from those intent upon doing such harm, be it because"

- they happen to worship a very slightly different set of superstitious idiocies,

- possess skin occupying a non-identical position on a Pantone racial colour wheel,

- or had the fucking temerity to pop out of a womb on the other side of a river, ocean, mountain range, other major geographical feature,

- or, indeed, just a straight line drawn across the desert by some bored and ignorant bureaucrat umpteen thousand miles away and a century ago."

"None of these things shall I miss. Frankly it's a relief to be getting shot of the necessity of watching such bollocks play out. I would still rather have the choice, mark you, but, as this would appear to be being denied me, I am making the best of a bad job and looking on the bright side: I shall be free, at last, of that nagging, persistent sensation that I am, for the most part, surrounded by fucking idiots."

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

John Cale  :
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Britian is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old guitarist called Jeff Beck, singer Colin Blunstone and drummer Mick Fleetwood

Jeff is 69 years old today, Colin is 68 and Mick is 6
6 giving them a collective age of 143 years.

So what do these three old musicians have in common ?

1. They all came to music in their teens in the 1960s.

Jeff :

* grew up in Wallington, South London, as a ten-year-old, sang in a church choir and as a teenager he learned to play a borrowed guitar and made several attempts to build his own by gluing and bolting together cigar boxes for the body and a fence-post for the neck, model aircraft control-lines for strings and frets simply painted on.

* at 19 joined 'The Rumbles', a Croydon band, in 1963 for a short period as lead guitarist, playing Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly songs, displaying a talent for mimicking guitar styles and two years later was recruited by 'The Yardbirds'  to replace Eric Clapton on the recommendation of fellow session man Jimmy Page.

Colin :

* was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire and went to school in St. Albans where 'The Zombies' were formed when he was 17 in 1962 and the group scored a British and US hit when he was 19 with 'She's not There' .

* in his early twenties had further success with 'Tell Her No'
and in 1969 ,'Time of the Season' .

Mick :
* was born in Redruth, Cornwall, went to a number of schools including a boarding school in Gloucestershire, performed badly in exams, dropped out of school at 15 and, in 1963, at 16, moved to London to pursue a career as a drummer.

* began his career with 'The Cheynes'  (left), followed by stints stints in the 'Bo Street Runners', 'Peter Bs', 'Shotgun Express' with Rod Stewart and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakes'.

2. They are all still working in their 60s :

Jeff :
at the Madison Square Garden in April :

Mick :
interviewed in February and talking about his forthcoming tour in Britain in September :

Colin :
on his website talking about his tour in Britain this year after returning from the USA : ' I think because we'd been working so much I hadn't really realised how many dates we were due to play, 24 dates in 33 days, followed by a trip to Holland to play at the wonderful Paradiso and then one day off before flying back to the States. I love to work, but even I was a bit intimidated by this schedule which seemed even tougher than when we started in the 60's.'

singing  'Old and Wise' when he was 66 in 2011 :

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Britain is no country for men in Manchester where preventable illness will kill them before they reach mature old age

Map: Overall premature deaths

This is the recently published map on the 'Public Health England' website. It uses a traffic light system to high light variations in early death rates revealed in a new league table for England and described by the Government Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt as "shocking". It could be read in another way, representing the 'longevity of old men' with :
* the green areas with the most old men surviving into old age.
* the red areas with the least old men surviving into old age.

At the moment, I have been spending a few days in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, which is one of the 'green areas', which doesn't surprise me, since the heart of the town is conspicuously prosperous, with its wide streets, restored regency mansions and chic shopping area.

On the other hand, I live in the Medway Towns in North Kent, which is a 'red area', which also doesn't surprise me since it is a conspicuously poor area with high unemployment. However, Manchester beats even the Medway Towns, with its lack of old men and is 'redder than red'.

The statistics speak for themselves, with premature deaths among pre-75 year old standing at :
              Leamington Spa      Medway       Manchester
Cancer :           99                   121                152
Heart disease : 54                    66                 116
Lung disease :  18                    26                 62
Liver disease :  14                    14                 39

In total, around 153,000 people die prematurely each year in England and fail to mature into the post 75 year old men and women they might have become with Manchester being the worst city, where 455 fail to make the grade each year. Of the early deaths, 103,000 are classed as preventable.

The Government Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said:
"This shocking variation in early and unnecessary deaths means people's lives are needlessly cut short and that cannot continue unchecked. I want areas to use the data released today to identify local public health challenges like smoking, drinking and obesity and to take action to help achieve our ambition for saving 30,000 lives a year by 2020."

Commenting on the data, Public Health England's Prof. John Newton said that premature mortality figures had improved, but Britain was still seventh out of 17 European countries for men and 15th for women. There were many factors at play :
 "Although our behaviours have an impact, and we all need to take responsibility for our own health, you have to see the social, economic, cultural context and you also have to look at the environment - housing, education, transport - all of those have an effect on our health."

Question : Where is the place most likely to see men make it into post-75 year old age ?
Answer : Wokingham in Berkshire with 200 premature deaths per 100,000 compared to Manchester's 455.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Britain is still a country for a violent old villain called 'Mad' Frankie Fraser

An article in 'The Independent' this week was entitled :

Frankie Fraser: We can’t seem to stop ourselves falling for these old villains
This gangster is treated with a strange amount of indulgence by the press and public

Frankie interviewed and describing his crimes some years ago :

The article made the following points about 89 year old Frankie, that :

* few figures in Britain today to reveal the confusion between reality and show business quite as clearly as him and this former 'enforcer' of the Richardson Gang who, after spending 40 years in prison, has become a firm media favourite.

the 'old rascal', as one newspaper described him, has his popularity reinforced a tv documentary shown on sunday, 'Frankie Fraser’s Last Stand'.

*  his son reveals in the film, that he has recently been given a court issued 'anti social behaviour order' (ASBO) for threatening a fellow resident in the home where he lives and press coverage of the story has been amused and indulgent.

* in his post-prison years, from the 1990s onwards, he quickly learned how to play the media game, was a star turn at Oxford Union debates, put his name to four books and later had his own website on which he expressed his views about this and that.

* explained his popularity as : “You do something a bit naughty. You go to prison for 20 years. When you come out, everyone wants to talk to you.”

What you possibly didn't know about Frankie who, on his own admission has been a genuinely violent man and is now a feted figure, that he :

*  was born in 1924 in Lambeth, South London and later complained  that : "I had no help from my family; my mother and father were dead straight so I had to make my own way."

* also said : "In the area where I grew up and was brought up, right where the Festival Hall is now, on the docks, people were tough and rough and ready. Every other family was into crime. You had more chance of winning the Lottery than finding six straight families. So it was inevitable that I would fall into crime."

* started his life of crime aged nine, when he worked for the notorious Sabini Gang, which ran protection rackets at racecourses at a time when 'off-course betting' was illegal, as a 'bucket boy' who would offer to clean the bookies' blackboards with a sponge, for which they were obliged to pay the Sabinis.

* was (on the left), along with his sister Eva (right), a juvenile thief and said : "You name it, we nicked it.  As I was growing up, I never had to buy a shirt – Eva made sure she nicked them for me."

* was drafted into the Army at 18 during the Second World War after trying to avoid the 'call-up' by pretending to be mad, deserted from his barracks and first became involved in serious crime in a London where 'blackout' at night provided cover, shortage of police due to conscription reduced detection and shortages caused by rationing provided opportunities to plug the gaps with stolen goods.

* did his first time inside in a 'young offenders borstal' for breaking into a Waterloo hosiery store and then given a 15-month prison sentence at Wandswoth Prison for shopbreaking and said later of the war years, when he was heavily involved in theft from bombed-out stores : "You wanted to win the War but you wanted it to go on for ever. It was a thief's paradise, Gor blimey! Whatever you nicked you could sell, they'd be queueing up to buy it off you during the War" and that he had "never forgiven the Germans  for surrendering in 1945."

* after the War, was involved in a smash-and-grab raid on a jeweller's and received a two-year prison sentence, served largely at Pentonville Prison, was certified insane and sent to the Cane Hill Hospital, London, before being released in 1949.

* during the 1950s became a bodyguard to well-known gangster Billy Hill, for whom he carried out razor attacks and was paid one pound for every stitch, took part in more bank robberies and spent more time in prison in Durham Prison was again certified insane and was sent to Broadmore Prison (left) and aware of the punishments for bad behaviour, stayed out of trouble and was released in 1955.

* in 1956, attacked mobster Jack Spot and wife Rita on Hill's say-so, by Fraser, along with at least half a dozen other men and was given a seven year prison sentence.

 * early in the 1960s, met and joined Charlie and Eddie Richardson, members of the notorious 'Richardson Gang', rivals to the Kray Twins with one member of the criminal fraternity saying that : “Mad Frank joining the Richardson’s Gang was like China getting the atom bomb” and seen on the right with actor Stanley Baker in the centre and Eddie on the right.

*  in 1966, was charged with the death of Richard Hart
who was shot at Mr Smiths's Club in Catford and when the witness changed his testimony and charges were dropped, still received a five-year sentence for affray and has always maintained that, while he fought with Hart, he did not shoot him. 

* was also implicated in the so-called 'Torture Trial', in which members of the Gang were charged with burning, electrocuting and whipping those found guilty of disloyalty by a 'kangaroo court' with him accused of pulling out the teeth of victims with a pair of pliers and i
n the 1967 trial at the Old Baileywas sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

* probably inspired, along with the Kray Twins, the 1970 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' sketch featuring the   Piranha Brothers :

* in total, served 42 years in over 20 different prisons in Britain where he was involved in riots, frequently fought with prison officers and fellow inmates, attacked governors and was one of the ringleaders of the major Parkhurst Prison Riot in 1969 and as a result of his injuries, spent six weeks in the prison hospital.

often had sentences extended for violent behaviour but whilst in Strangeways, Manchester in 1980,  was 'excused boots' and allowed to wear slippers after claiming he had problems with his feet because another prisoner dropped a bucket of boiling water on them after he had hit him. 
* was released from prison in 1985 and in 1991 Fraser was shot in the head from close range in an apparent murder attempt outside the Turnmills Club in Clerkenwell, London and  has always maintained that a policeman was responsible.

* became a tv celebrity in the 1990's  and appeared on 'Operation Good Guys' and 'Shooting Stars', produced his autobiography and in 1999 at the age of 75, appeared at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London in a one man show, 'An Evening with Mad Frankie Fraser' which subsequently toured Britain.

* appeared as East End crime boss, Pops Den, in the feature film, 'Hard Men' a forerunner of British gangster movies such as 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', had a documentary made of his life, 'Mad Frank'.

* now gives gangland tours around London, where he highlights infamous criminal locations such as the Blind Beggar Pub where Ronnie Kray shot dead George Cornell, one of the Richardson gang in 1966, lives in the Walworth area of London and was last seen in public in October at the funeral of his former boss, Charlie Richardson.

* according to his sons, has no regrets and has said : "No, I wouldn't have done my life any other way". and reflected on his career in crime :

What a strange country is Britain, where old men who were yesterday's violent villains are today's heroes, old film actors make a living playing villains : and innocent old men are the subject of violence :