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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Ultimate Hard Bastards
By Kate Kray
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2005 Kate Kray
All rights reserved.
On top of the world and looking for love
Roy Shaw wears designer gear, has a cool million in the bank, a beautiful home and a shiny red Bentley Corniche. He's hasn't got where he is today by being a nice guy. He got there by being the toughest. Everything about Roy spells violence. He is 15 stone of squat, solid muscle, which knots and pops under his silk shirt when he moves. His small, piercing blue eyes are set above a corrugated nose. Roy appears to stare with an unnerving intensity into a secret world of hostility and hatred. In short, he is a walking, talking killing machine.
I met Roy Shaw 11 years ago and in 1999 I was the co-writer of his book Pretty Boy. Apart from that, I've got to say that Roy is probably the finest man I have ever met and I've met them all – yardies, gangsters and hard men from all over the country. Indeed, I was married to the most infamous gangster in British history – Ronnie Kray. Ron was the only man who I could truthfully say had the look of the devil in his eyes when he was angry. I didn't think I'd ever see that look again until I met Roy Shaw. Some would say he is Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness.
But he hasn't got horns sticking out from the top of his head or cloven hooves and a tail; he's just a man, and one with strict principles and morals. Roy has laid down his own boundaries for himself and has never over-stepped the invisible mark or, more importantly, never allowed anyone else to.
Trust is a very hard thing to come by these days, but I would, undoubtedly, trust Roy Shaw with my life. If you are lucky enough to make a friend of Roy, then he is a bloody good friend. Make an enemy of him and beware, because he's a typical male – made up of frogs and snails and puppy dogs' tails. When he's good, he's very, very good and when he's bad, he's horrid.
I was born in Stepney, east London, within the sound of Bow Bells. I'm a true cockney, a Londoner through and through. I was a street urchin, a ragamuffin. I grew up in the war years when times were hard. Our family didn't have much in the way of money but we had plenty of love.
At the tender age of ten I discovered the gift that God had given me – the power of punch. From then on, I became a rascal, getting myself into all sorts of trouble. I was a man on a mission with nothing to lose and a lot to prove.
I became a professional boxer, training under the guidance of Mickey Duff. I had ten professional fights with ten wins, six of them knock-outs.
LIFE OF CRIME
I've been in and out of prison nearly all my life for various different reasons; a little bit of this, a little bit that, 'comme ci, comme ça' – but mainly for crimes of violence. I've spent approximately 24 years behind bars.
I'd use my fists, but if someone was armed then I'd also be armed and I'll kill them.
I was ten years old. I was lying in bed when I heard Mum scream. My elder sisters looked after me while Mum went to the hospital. When she came back her face was ashen. She sat me down on the sofa, her eyes were red and puffy.
'Daddy's dead,' she whispered.
There had been a terrible accident. A lorry had swerved out of control and one of the pedals of my father's motorbike hit the kerb. Dad tried to regain control of his bike but it was no good, he hit a lamppost head-on and was killed instantly. That was a long time ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday and I'm not ashamed to say that it still brings a tear to my eye.
IS THERE ANYONE YOU ADMIRE?
DO YOU BELIEVE IN HANGING?
Yes, I most definitely do, for paedophiles, rapists and perverts.
A man that commits crimes against women and children is not a man, he's a fucking dog and deserves to die like one.
IS PRISON A DETERRENT?
No. I was a hard-working kid before I was put away then I got to know all the 'toughies'. Going off the straight and narrow is nothing new – it's a well-trod path, a natural progression. Borstal, prison, then Broadmoor. I wasn't the first to be put away and I certainly won't be the last, just the handsomest!
WHAT WOULD HAVE DETERRED YOU FROM A LIFE OF CRIME?
WHAT MAKES A TOUGH GUY?
When a child is born it has no concept of skin colour, religion or prejudice. It has to learn how to walk, talk, hate and fight. I think you've got to learn how to be a tough guy. It took a long time and lots of hard graft for me to become as nasty as I am.
ROY'S FINAL THOUGHT
In 1999, I wrote my autobiography Pretty Boy. It was at number one in the bestsellers list for more than eight weeks and there is talk of my life story being made into a feature film. I'm not embarrassed to say that I'm as proud as punch, if not a little surprised.
Since writing my book, I've had literally hundreds of letters from kids all over the country, and some from as far away as Australia, saying that my story has given them hope and inspiration. That's the best compliment I've ever received. If I can help prevent one youngster from being bullied, then writing the book was well worth the effort. As a young boy I was bullied; it affected me badly.
My father died when I was ten years old. After that sad day, something inside me died – I just snapped. I wouldn't allow the bullies to bash me any more. Almost overnight I turned from a meek, mild boy into, some would say, a ruthless bastard. If I'm truthful I'd agree and say that, yes, I am a ruthless man. But I didn't set out to get a reputation, that was never my intention. It just happened.
I've hurt, killed, and done some wicked acts of violence throughout my life, but only if a man deserved it. I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I have never hurt any women or children. So, I have no regrets or the need to unburden myself and ask anyone for forgiveness. If I hurt ya – fuck ya – you deserved it.
I don't live in the past, because if you live in the past you die a bit each day. I have no pity or conscience and have been called the devil; maybe I am, but when I die I know that God will shake my hand and welcome me into heaven with open arms because basically I'm a nice, ruthless bastard.CHAPTER 2
Just released from a sixteen-year sentence
I'd heard about Johnny through the prison grapevine. Often, his name would crop up in conversation, but I'd never actually met him. In September 1999, I saw a small article in the Sun newspaper. There was a photograph of Johnny Adair being released from the Maze prison under the Good Friday Peace Treaty. He was the 293rd prisoner to be released and, as he walked, or should I say strutted, from the Maze, he looked every bit as dangerous as I'd heard he was.
I decided to include Johnny in Hard Bastards because he fitted the criteria: he demands respect and has a fearsome reputation, but mainly he can have a 'row'.
It's one thing to decide to put someone in a book, but then I've got to find them and convince them to take part.
I certainly didn't want to put word out on the street that I was looking for Johnny, or indeed that anyone was looking for him. I know from experience that dangerous men are extremely paranoid.
Usually, if I want to contact a villain I make a call or two and I'll have the number in my hand within hours, but Northern Ireland is not my manor. However, it was amazingly simple to find Johnny Adair. I rang Directory Enquiries and asked for numbers of political parties in Belfast. The operator gave me five or six different organisations and I started to make my calls. I explained each time that I was a journalist and wanted to speak to a man called Johnny Adair.
Instinctively, I felt that what I was doing was not 'politically correct', but I needed to find Johnny. There was a wall of silence. Every answer was the same, a curt, 'You won't find him here. You won't find him there.'
Then I struck lucky. A lady I spoke to shiftily gave me a number and then hung up. I telephoned the number and asked to speak to Johnny Adair. A man with a strong, gruff Irish accent answered, 'What do you want him for?'
I explained who I was and that I was writing a book. The voice on the line became softer, no longer hostile.
He introduced himself as Matt Kincade and said that he had read a couple of my books while serving time in the Maze prison and that Johnny Adair was a friend of his.
The whole exercise had been like looking for a needle in a haystack, and hopefully I'd found it! Within days, Johnny was in touch, but was reluctant to commit to any firm meeting. It was all very cloak and dagger. I told him I would travel to Ireland on 11 November. He gave me a telephone number and told me to ring it when I arrived. With that tiny snippet of information, I booked my ticket on the early-morning flight from Luton to Belfast.
My Easyjet flight to Northern Ireland was delayed – damn, I didn't want to be late. I was going to meet Johnny Adair, or 'Mad Dog' as he is known. I sat on the plane waiting for take-off. I was fed up, it was the one interview I didn't want to miss.
My friends and family had warned me not to go. They all said the same; that I was getting in too deep. I'd heard wild stories about Johnny Adair kidnapping Catholics and chopping them up. Each story was more bizarre than the last. I didn't take any notice; to me it was all just hearsay.
Then I heard it from a good, reliable source that I really shouldn't go; it was too dangerous and I was getting out of my depth.
Being the flippant fool that I am I just replied that I wasn't Catholic or Protestant, but in actual fact I was Salvation Army. I'm a sunbeam, so as far as I was concerned, I was quite safe – or as safe as I could be.
We landed in Belfast on a cold, grey November morning. I made my way to the Stormont Hotel by cab. I was apprehensive, unsure what I was walking into. Maybe everyone had been right after all, and I was putting my life in danger needlessly. My minder stayed close to me the whole time and the photographer said nothing through fear.
When we reached the hotel, we ordered coffee in the lounge area and I rummaged in my briefcase for the small scrap of paper with the telephone number that Johnny Adair had given me. A deep Irish voice was waiting for my call. My instructions were to wait; Johnny would ring my mobile phone at 10.00am sharp. On the button, my phone rang – it was Johnny.
From the start, he was paranoid. He thought it was a set-up and said that if I wanted to speak to him then I was to go to the Shankhill Road.
I said no; I was a girl, I'd come to his back yard, and it was only right that he came to the Stormont Hotel to see me. He laughed, 'I'll be there in half-an-hour.'
I waited outside the hotel for Johnny to arrive. I'm used to dealing with paranoid men and I wanted to put Johnny at ease and, more than anything, to show him that it wasn't a set-up and his life wasn't in any danger. I told the photographer to wait inside and my minder to stay close.
Half-an-hour later I noticed a car circle the hotel. I watched it drive round once, and then again, before pulling up in front of me. Driving the car was a huge man. Sitting next to him was Johnny Adair. He climbed from the car, his eyes scanning everywhere. His minder did the same, his hand inside his jacket. Johnny walked towards me, his greeting warm and sincere. I introduced him to my minder, and he introduced me to his. Johnny's accent was so deep that I had difficulty understanding him.
'This is Winker,' he said, pointing to his minder.
'Sorry?' I answered, with a puzzled look.
'Winker ... this is Winker.'
I shook his minder's hand and said, 'Nice to meet you, Wanker!'
For a moment there was a deathly silence. My minder looked away in horror. Winker's face could have curdled milk. Johnny Adair roared with laughter and from that moment on the ice was broken.
In the beginning, the Irishman wanted to do the interview in the back of a car while it drove around the city streets of Belfast, but I convinced Johnny to go inside the hotel.
As we walked through the car park, a police car drove past. Johnny stopped dead in his tracks and glared at the patrol car. The officers inside looked at Johnny. I saw the panic in their eyes. Johnny stared daggers at them. They looked away. Johnny shot a glance at his minder and they both smiled.
We settled in the hotel foyer and ordered our coffees. I sat with Johnny on a sofa while our minders and the photographer sat some distance away.
Before he agreed to be in the book, Johnny wanted to know what it was all about. I explained about the book and showed him some of the other photos of a couple of men who were already included. In a strong Ian Paisley accent he said, 'I'm not a gangster. I'm not a fighter. I'm a soldier of war – a fucking terrorist!'
The entire time I was in Johnny's company, I felt that at any moment something could happen. I didn't quite know what, but it was extremely dangerous being in his presence. His eyes flickered around the room all the time, scanning and surveying, watching everybody's move – as did his bodyguard.
We started to talk and he became a little more relaxed until somebody sat behind me. His piercing blue eyes widened with alarm. He motioned to Winker. Suddenly they were on alert.
'Do you know the man sitting behind you?' he whispered.
I glanced over my shoulder and shook my head. It was obvious that Johnny was now uncomfortable. He never took his eyes off the man and Winker stayed close. He may have thought the man was from the security forces, the IRA or just a hitman who'd come to kill him.
It all seemed a little far-fetched until Johnny took his hat off and showed me the hole in the back of his head, the size of a 50p piece. Two months earlier, he'd been shot in the back of the head at a UB40 concert.
Then he lifted his sweater and showed me a hole in his side and one in his leg. He had been almost cut in half in another attack and there has been over ten attempts to kill him.
As Johnny talked and his story slowly unravelled, it was a tale not about money, or a grudge – Johnny Adair was fighting for what he truly believed in, which was for peace in Northern Ireland. I told him it was difficult for me to understand, because all we are used to seeing on the mainland are the atrocities that are committed in Ireland.
Before going to Northern Ireland, I didn't have any preconceived ideas about Johnny Adair. But I didn't expect him to be as 'normal', or as warm and friendly as he was. Everyone expects terrorists to be gun-toting thugs, but that's not the case. Johnny spoke with great intellect. There was no malice or bitterness in his voice. It was the cool, controlled way in which he spoke that made him so utterly terrifying. He was normal – just like you and me. Before I went to Northern Ireland, I really hadn't known what to expect, but I wasn't prepared for the Johnny Adair that I met.
At the end of the interview Johnny agreed to have a photograph taken outside Stormont Castle, where the peace talks were taking place. We left the hotel and stood on the kerb, waiting to cross the busy main road. There were four lanes full of traffic. Every car in the four lanes stopped to let Johnny cross because they had recognised him. It was unbelievable. This is the power he has in Ireland.
Johnny was very amicable until the photographer asked him to turn his head and look at the castle. He refused. Johnny still wasn't sure if it was a set-up. After the photo shoot, Johnny Adair was whisked away by his minder as quickly as he'd arrived. This is his interview.
I was born in the Shankhill Road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland. I'm the youngest of five brothers and one sister. As a teenager, I ran with a gang of Protestants. We'd roam the city centre searching for Catholics to hurt, for no other reason than their religion.
Excerpted from Ultimate Hard Bastards by Kate Kray. Copyright © 2005 Kate Kray. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
SID THE KNIFE,