Such a lovely man, our Ron

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The Independent Online
From Mr Wilf "Tubby" Gosforth:

Sir, I find it sad that in all the coverage given to the late Ronnie Kray, no mention has been made of his abiding love of cricket, and which I think shows a gentler side to his nature than has often been depicted.

He and I often played together in the cricket team he organised called The Henchmen, and I remember the coolness and courage with which he stood in the slips and faced some very hostile fast bowling, flanked only by a bodyguard and chauffeur.

"People sometimes call me a bit of a nutter, Tubby," he said to me one day. "They call me a hard man and a mad axeman and all those things. They'd think a bit differently if they could see me now, unarmed, in white flannels, facing a cricket ball going at 100mph. Don't you think so, Tubby?"

"I certainly do, Mr Kray," I said honestly.

It was death not to.

It was on one of those occasions that a batsman flashed at a ball outside the off-stump and sent it flying at Ronnie. It came so fast that neither the chauffeur nor the bodyguard had time to intercept. Too late did Ronnie put his hands up to stop it. It struck him on the chest and flew up into his face.

"No one does Ronnie Kray in the face!" he yelled, like a man possessed, and drew a gun and proceeded to shoot the ball to bits as it lay on the grass.

"I thought you was always unarmed, Ronnie!" I joked in the pub later.

"You missed out an apostrophe," he growled. "Unharmed is the word I used, spelt `un'armed'. I am always `un'armed', and you can quote me on that."

Yours etc

From Mrs Sybil Grundy

Sir, I wonder if you realise how keen the late Ronnie Kray was on the theatre? Many a time he would knock on my door and suggest we went down the West End for a show, and my husband never minded, as he knew I was in good hands. Ronnie always preferred a mystery kind of play, preferably with a death in the title, and so it was that we went together to see such unlikely shows and films as The Killing of Sister George, Death in the Afternoon and Murder in the Cathedral.

Murder in the Cathedral was always his favourite, as the sight of four armed men cutting down one defenceless victim seemed to bring out the best in him. He got so carried away at one performance that, when the knights are accused of killing Becket, he stood up and roared out: "I was a witness to the killing and I'm here to say it wasn't any of these blokes in armour who did it, and anyone who says different will get a bullet through his noggin', as my name is Ronnie Kray", at which there was an awful silence till I got him calmed down and he shouted out, "All right, carry on acting!"

Yours etc

From the Rev Allan Hardwycke

Sir, Among the tributes paid to the late Ronald Kray, there has been no mention of his abiding interest in religion. I was pastor of the church in his next-door parish, and I remember him saying: "Here, reverend, if you got any trouble from mischief-makers you need blowing away, just give us the word and I'll deal with them personally."

Well, I was used to the rough words and ways of my East End parishioners, and knew they were all real softies under their rough-diamond exteriors, so I said to him jokingly: "The only gang I have any trouble with is the Catholic lot next door."

"What kind of trouble?" he asked.

"Oh, just differences of opinion," I said. "I fear we shall never see eye to eye with the Catholics." The following week the neighbouring Catholic church was completely demolished in an explosion. The next time I saw Mr Kray he winked at me and said, "No more trouble from those boys, eh?" I often wonder if he was joking.

Yours etc.

From Mr Robert Parlance, MP

Sir, I don't know if your readers are aware that the late Ronnie Kray had a real and lively interest in politics. I often used to entertain him at the House of Commons, where he expressed a keen desire to be introduced to various people of influence to whom he might be useful in some humble capacity, and I was surprised by the depth of his knowledge of the intricacies of the system, and also his familiarity with the weaknesses and shortcomings of some of our great men.

One day I asked him if, when he stepped out of the business he was currently engaged in, he would ever be tempted to stand for Parliament and continue his work on a larger scale. I shall never forget his answer.

"Bob," he said. "I could never last a month in politics. It's far too dirty and corrupt a game for me."

Yours etc.