The Sock Puppet: Sir Ronald Biggs, our readers would love to know how you felt when the old Queen fingered you for the old knighthood.
Sir Ronald Biggs: In a word, gutted.
TSP: Could you explain that for our readers?
|Gary Oldman after plastic surgery|
SRB: It's been alleged that as Her Royal Majesty was drawing the actual sword, I allegedly flinched or even ducked. In point of fact, the whole investiture was done in absentia, since I was neither there in person at the time, nor anywhere else in the vicinity. Also, not only do I stand a hundred per cent innocent in my stockinged feet; but I have concealed on my person sworn affidavits by concealed witnesses who saw the state I was in on the occasion. Suffering from a case of third degree diarrhoea, I could never have gone down on my knees for fear of loosening the bowels and soiling Her Royal Apartments - a form of disrespect which has never formed part of my intentions in any respect.
TSP: So what exactly are your intentions?
SRB: Wholly honourable, your honourable worships. For me to walk, assisted mind you, into any public house on Whitstable High Street; to stand, suitably propped mind you, at the bar; to order, by means of any intermediate third party mind you, a pint of their best bitter; and to drink, through any normal straw mind you, as much or as little of the dear old beer as would satisfy any appointed umpire or other intermediary the Royal Court saw fit. To put it in a nutshell, in fact, to satisfy any Royal Court in the land that I was willing and able to do what is right and proper in a nutshell.
TSP: Would that be The Royal Court of St. James, or the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand?
SRB: As long as it's not the Royal Court in Sloane Square, I wouldn't give a monkey's which Royal Court it was. Degenerate place!
TSP: Are you referring to the Royal Court Theatre?
SRB: Is that what it is?
TSP: In your day, a haunt of the playwright Joe Orton.
SRB: Joe the What's-His-Right? The nefarious defacer of library books?
TSP: The very culprit.
SRB: Then I go back to my opening remarks. By whom, may I ask, would the deliberate defacement of innocent books designed to be read by pensioners, wheel-chair access wallers, unemployed plumpies and such like be condoned, eh? How long did the little turd get?
TSP: Eighteen months hard.
SRB: Sewing poxy mail-bags, I rather think! But don't you see the point of my gist? The dirty rotten toe-rag performs an act of vandalism against the very heart of English decency and skips off with a slap on the wrists? Whereas the likes of us folk heroes and loyal members of the original criminal class getting thirty years for playing minor roles in a straight forward and somewhat romantic train robbery...
TSP: Which, in your case, netted 2.6 million pounds, worth over 40 million in today's money.
SRB: Look here, sunshine, the old GTR was long consigned to the anals before decimalisation ever set in! Whereas, seen from the genuine criminal's point of view, defacing library books is an unnatural act, tantamount to buggering kindly old ladies on their own landings. You know what buggers of kindly old ladies get inside?
TSP: Do tell!
SRB: Only the jolly old tube of Macleans squirted up the old Humphrey Jarvis!
TSP: Great Scott!
SRB: They don't like it up them, see!
TSP: Bu-bum! I should think not.
SRB: Brings them out in a rash.
TSP: Very rash, I'm sure.
SRB: Which only goes to show you how true rough justice is meted out to the deserving.
TSP: So what, in your opinion, would have been a more suitable penalty to pay for your crimes?
SRB: All being fair and square, I think transportation would have suited me down to the ground.
TSP: You're in favour of a return to penal colonies, then?
SRB: I'm not exactly averse to the idea, no. So long as all poisonous snakes and spiders are cleared out of the dormitories, lavs and showers. Plus any locals loitering about ought to be kept well sprinkled, dusted off and rubbed down. On the whole, I think a spot of planting at the old plantations and forcing a bloke to eat his Christmas pud on ye olde beach, for example, is quite enough of a punishment in this old day and age.
TSP: Hang on a minute, your honour, isn't that more-or-less what you got?
SRB: Ah yes, but I paid my own way, didn't I? You can't say I was detained by Her Majesty's jurisprudence when, at each and every juncture, I was picking up the tab from my own share of the ill-gotten, could you? Saved the taxpayers of England a fortune in dental bills alone, I did.
TSP: So where to now, Sir Ronnie? A world cruise? A season in pantomime? What's your choice of Desert Island Discs? Or are you holding out for a peerage?
SRB: I'm not saying I've abandoned all hope of taking my rightful seat in the House of Lords, that is if Her Majesty were to make good her threat of ordering me to a Baronetcy, I would have to think seriously about it, somewhat, before, with the deepest of respect, turning her down. What I'm saying is, the public have come to expect a certain moral content from their villains. As Roopie Murdoch was saying to me only the other day, that blooming lot are all tainted, it's been one dirty scandal after another. Did you know, he himself turned down the throne of Canada on account of all their shenanigans? He said, you might be just as well off steering clear of them, striking out on your own, so to speak,; and who knows what the good lord has got in store for you? I mean, the old Bishops still have their seats in the House. See what the old Pope has to offer? I mean, if a time-served Nazi cleric can get away with it, why not a lad from Lambeth Walk? A little dash of charisma goes a very long way these days.
TSP: Thanks very much for your time.
SRB: Erm, it's cash payment only, Squire! Ha-ha, none of your fake chocolate money! Save all that cheque's-in-the-post waffle for the taxman.
|Phil Collins as Buster|
Great After-Dinner Yawns No. 0002
by Philip Lee
As soon as I received the order of the boot from Rose Bruford School of Speech & Drama (for Christmas 1977) I dusted myself off, got a job sorted out and somewhere to live. My new workplace was in the basement of the old County Hall building across the river from the Houses of Parliament. The new flat, which I shared with Christopher Lee and Dave “Westy” West, was in the only remaining terrace of old Lambeth Walk.
Being of a romantic bent – a pussy-footying Caretaker, if you would - as having (in my father's immortal words) 'a bit of stuff' in Sidcup - my weekends were a source of comfort & joy. Friday evenings, after clocking off at the old nine-to-five, would see me skiving out the back of County Hall, down the long, dark tunnel under the tracks of Waterloo Station, to emerge at Lower Marsh; whereupon I would buy a decent box of chocolate fondants from a slightly dodgy retailer located on that lively thoroughfare. My one pound (net weight) of dark chokkies under arm, I would scamper down towards The Cut, round the corner into the side entrance of the station; and there, I would buy a nice bunch of roses from a bloke with striking white hair very popular in that locale. Then it was crossing the road, upping the steps to Waterloo East and boarding the first train on the Sidcup line (fast between London Bridge and Hither Green).
Millions of years later, in another life on the further side of yet another planet - as it were - a film came on the box about Buster Edwards, who was a colleague of old Ronnie Biggs from his days robbing mail trains. This smiling geezer had eluded the police entirely at the time of the blagging, gone abroad, then lingered in Mexico with the gallant one (lately escaped) and other members of the consortium. After three years of this, pining for the comforts of wife, kids and the Great British Banger, he flew home and handed himself in. Edwards served nine years of his dues and then, on release, began flogging flowers at Waterloo. He was the Buster, quite unbeknown to me at the time of my enduring assignations in Sidcup, off whom I would buy the red roses.
I read he later handed himself in to the Almighty. That's a shame. I'm sure his flowers brought much joy, and assuaged a fair bit of guilt on all sides.