You ask the questions: Frank Fraser - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

You ask the questions: Frank Fraser

(Such as: you are known to have had a successful career as a gangster. So, Frank Fraser, did your victims deserve to die?)

AFTER 42 years in top security prisons and a couple of stretches in Broadmoor, the retired gangster "Mad Frankie" Fraser, 75, reinvented himself as an author and performer in 1994. Now the darling of the London literary world, he recently completed his second book of memoirs, Mad Frank and Friends. He describes himself as "very easygoing usually" and lives in south London with his girlfriend Marilyn Wisbey, 43, the daughter of the great train robber Tommy Wisbey.

In your opinion, did your victims deserve to die? If so, why?

Anne Hunt, Malmesbury

My victims were all criminals. None of them had any class. I never touched anyone from the real world.

Do you think it is right that you should a) make money from writing about your criminal past and b) be treated as a celebrity because of it?

Ian Hickton, Stoke-on-Trent

I have no regrets about taking money or being a celebrity. That is what the public wants. And what's more I give the public what they want. What gangster do you know can appear twice daily in a West End theatre and get standing ovations? No one's ever done it before. What gangster, other than George Raft, has ever appeared in a film? I did and I got great notices for Hard Men. For a few weeks it was number one in the video best-seller charts.

When you were a little boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Frances Quinn, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

As a boy I wanted to be a successful gangster, not an unsuccessful one.

My mum remembers you from just after the war, living in and around the Camberwell area, and she says, even then, you were known to be "a bit handy". Have you always been involved in the life of crime, did you consider an alternative to it, or did you actually enjoy it?

Mark Baxter, Camberwell

I was always handy. Handy at everything. That's what got me into trouble all my life.

What kind of person was your mum?

Janet Hunter, Halifax

My mum was wonderful, a great lady. The only thing was, she was completely "straight". Had nothing to do with crime whatsoever.

Did you do National Service? If not, why not?

Brian Perkins, Somerset

Yes I did it. Rather briefly. Never even wore the uniform.

What was the best thing about prison?

Anthony Horsfield, West Midlands

The best thing or things that ever happened to me re prison was being released, for a start, and meeting Ivor Novello, the great songwriter. He was once in the cell next to me at Wormwood Scrubs. Great guy. Good to talk to. He should never have been there.

`The Independent' stated that you have `been certified insane three times'. Am I right to infer from this that you have at least twice become sane again, and, if so, what were you like then?

Andy Dewar, Lincolnshire

I have been been certified insane three times. Insanity is a game that any number can play. It's just a case of not losing your nerve. Broadmoor is your reward.

Who did you prefer, Reggie or Ronnie Kray - and why?

Mark Cardman, Manchester

Reggie and Ronnie were completely different and at the same time twins. I knew them since I was a teenager. I visit Reggie every so often at his prison with Marilyn - we go down and talk. It's a disgrace that he's still inside. He's more than paid his debt to society. He can sometimes go off the handle, but so would you if you spent over 30 years inside. You can molest a woman or child and get off these days with a suspended sentence. Reggie killed a guy and I would have done the same. Ronnie was different. He had dark moods but it was dreadful that he died inside. He didn't deserve that. In the end he was harmless. He was just a shell. Not the big gangster that I once knew.

What's the worst thing you've ever done? Do you ever have nightmares about it?

Caroline Hardley, Truro, Cornwall

Opening a safe and finding nothing was in it. Then finding out that millions were in the boss's secretary's handbag and you'd bumped into her in the street and she'd done the job before you.

Which is easier, being an author or being a gangster?

Fiona Rice, Southampton

Author or gangster - I'm a performer in both spheres.

What would you like to do to your critics?

Nicola Harvey, Clapham, London

I have the edge over other authors or actors because critics have been very kind to me about what I write or do on stage or television. Critics don't disagree with me. I can't think why.

Do you dye your hair?

Roger Manners, Birmingham

Yes. It's all my own. I couldn't disguise myself to save my life. I'm as famous as Cilla Black.

I've heard that your wife is trying to make it as a singer. How is her career progressing and has she had any recording offers?

Simon Ellison, Bethnal Green, London

Marilyn and I have been together a long time. She's my rock. She's a good singer. She appeared in my show in the West End. She's got style and she gets good notices. The Guardian's critic, reviewing one of my shows, was a bit frightened to say what he thought of me so he said, "It was refreshing to hear the charming voice of Marilyn Wisbey."

Imagine a clear jar containing one magic bean. This bean splits into two identical beans after one second. These two beans then split in turn producing four beans. These then split to produce eight beans, etc... The jar takes exactly 60 seconds to fill up with the splitting beans. Can you tell me how full the jar is after 59 seconds?

J. Swainston, London

It seems to me that you've been watching the opening of the film of The Krays, the bit with Billie Whitelaw talking about twins and saying all these bits and pieces about seeds and eggs and all that - and when I saw it I didn't understand a word of what it was about. And neither did Charlie Kray, who was an adviser on the picture.

Do you support the `Independent on Sunday' campaign to decriminalise cannabis?

Victoria Benstead, London

Of course I agree with decriminalising cannabis, although I've never smoked it myself or tried it as a cookie, as was once suggested.

Your former career must have been rather messy at times. Do you have any handy hints on how to get blood stains out of woollen clothes, such as jumpers?

Graham Paul, Edinburgh

Ask Scotland Yard.

If you returned to your home to find it had been burgled and "trashed", would you consider it the result of criminals just trying to earn a living or would you be outraged that this action was perpetrated against you and other normal members of society by the criminal classes?

David Deal, Oxford

I'd kill 'em

Do you think yardies and triads have taken over the criminal underworld? What do you think of their criminal fraternities?

Dennis Wright, Stockwell, London

Yardies? It's a media thing. I can't say more.

Would you disapprove if a child of yours started getting in trouble with the police?

Mark Thompson, Bury St Edmunds

My kids? Who am I to be critical?

Would you say that, on the whole, crime pays?

Jemima Roberts, West London

Really only in the City of London. I can't see anybody making a few bob elsewhere.

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