Underworld says it with flowers for Buster

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The Independent Online
Stan the Man stood in his grubby dufflecoat and bobble hat and apologised for his tears. ''The family put me in charge of the stall today,'' he said. ''Look at all these flowers.''

Stan, a homeless friend of Ronald ''Buster'' Edwards, the Great Train Robber who hanged himself 11 days ago, was minding the Edwards' flower stall at Waterloo station: it brimmed with wreaths and bouquets from his regular customers.

Two hearses - one carrying an elm coffin, the other stuffed with flowers - travelled at a snail's pace from Buster's Camberwell home to a crematorium in Streatham, eight miles away. They were followed by six Daimlers, three Rolls-Royces, five Mercedes, and a host of cars carrying his family, friends and what remains of the south London underworld.

Charlie Kray, brother of the Kray twins, was there; so was Bob Welch, Bruce Reynolds and Tommy Wisbey, three of the few remaining train gang. Lorraine Chase, of ''Luton Airport'' fame, was there, and there were tributes from Buster's brother, Terry, and ''the H family'', widely rumoured to be from Tommy Hussey, another train robber.

All around, there were craggy faces, broken noses, cauliflower ears. It was like a bouncers' convention. One heavy-set, crop-haired man in a Rolls-Royce with black-out windows even took on the task of shepherding the cortege, burning rubber, blocking traffic and yelling at the procession's drivers to put on their headlights.

Buster, 63, was found hanging in his lock-up garage in Waterloo by his brother. Despite his crime - the theft with 14 others of pounds 2.6m (now worth about pounds 25m) from the Glasgow-London mail train in August 1963 - he had become a rogue endowed with the prefix ''lovable'' after the singer Phil Collins, who was not at the funeral, made a romantic comedy about his life.

At the crematorium, as the coffin was delivered into the furnace, Collins, finally entered the proceedings - singing, on tape, ''A Groovy Kind of Love''.

(Photograph omitted)

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