On my left at 14-stone 5lbs, undisputed champion of London’s East End, ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser.
And on my right at 9-stone 3lbs, fully dressed and wet through, Charlie Farley, disciple of the demon drink. Venue: a nasty boozing club in Brighton.
Stake: The very temporary hand of ‘Mucky’ Muriel, the midnight maiden.
I won’t claim Frankie as a mate, Gorblimey no, but when he met that great ref in the sky a few weeks ago he earned a half-page obit in the nationals.
And the last time I saw him came flooding back...
Now the Brighton boozing scene in those long-gone days was spectacular.
Regular patrons included the Brighton press corps, a fine body of men and women with unquenchable thirsts.
It wasn’t long before Charlie was showing signs of wear and tear and throwing hostile glances at a group of sharply-dressed gents who were roistering in cockney-ese; you know, norf, sarf, geezer, mutt and jeff, etc.
Charlie had the dead needle because the beauteous Muriel was present with the party, a lady with whom he had recently dallied and wished to carry on doing so.
Suddenly, Chas weaved over to the enemy ranks, grabbed the maid by the scruff and sobbed “how could you do it to me, Moo Moo?” Or words to that effect....
Upon which one of Moo-Moo’s new friemds (well, I think she was, but You never could tell with Moo-Moo) jumped up.
Sharp suit, kicking boots, shoulders like a barn door, fists like rocks and a face chiselded from the same quarry –yes folks, mad Frenkie Fraser in all his fearsome ferocity.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Me.
I shot over, picked Charlie up bodily which was no feat of strength, sling him back to our table and grovelled.
Then I grovelled further and bought the bunch of ‘em a drink.
Muriel put in a good word for us.
Marcifully the crisis passed at about the same time that Chas passed out...
Which was entirely painless compared with being knocked-out by Frankie.
Did I know Frankie Fraser?
Listen, I used to drink with him...