Francis Wanted to Paint the Twins

Francis Wanted to Paint the Twins

Fri 01 Feb

“In the Sixties there were lots of drinking clubs, illegal and legal. No one cared. They were all above shops or underneath them. Every day the shops would close – deli, ironmonger’s, bookshops, that sort of thing, and the bars would open. One night I was walking around with Harry Abraham. He wasn’t part of what they’ve started called the firm. I don’t like that word. Harry wasn’t part of anything. He was just a local lad. His dad was a champion boxer and had a club in Mile End.

So we were walking around in Soho and a girl was waving to us outside a doorway. Harry said, ‘What’s in there?’

I said, ‘Not much.’

But he said, ‘Let’s have a look.’

So we went in. Inside a girl starts talking to him.

I said, ‘Harry, this is a clip joint. Let’s get out’.

He said, ‘No, no, no. I’m talking to this girl. She’s going to meet me later.’ That’s what they all say. So then a fella comes over and says ‘What’s the problem?’

I said, ‘Listen, fella. I’ll do you a favour. He’s with the twins.’

He said, ‘Oh, …what?… He ... oh … sorry.‘ And he was all right after that.

Another night,we were in the Grave Maurice and Ronnie said to me, 'Mick, I’m sending Teddy Smith to Soho to look for Chumleigh.’ There were a few of these well-spoken public-school boys around Ronnie at that time.

‘I want to have a word with Chumleigh. But I can’t find him anywhere. Will you go with Teddy to look for him?’

So we went to Soho. There were so many clubs and Teddy knew them all. We were going up and down flights of stairs, in and out of bars you’d never know were there. Teddy knew everyone.

‘How are you?’he was saying, here, there and everywhere. Teddy was very effeminate. He had a little dog that he carried in the crook of his arm and he always had a cigarette holder. But everyone was frightened of him. He was the youngest person ever to be certified mad and put in Broadmoor.

Anyway, we went into another club – it was just four walls and a bar. They’re all talking to Teddy. Then he says, 'Hello Francis.' It was the artist, Francis Bacon. Apparently he wanted to paint the twins’ portrait. But there was no sign of Chumleigh, so we left. We tried another bar in Greek Street. It was called the Establishment. There was a ticket booth in the entrance. Teddy said to the fella, ‘I just want to go in and look for someone. Is that okay?’

The fella said, ‘No.’ Just like that. Teddy said again, ‘I just want to have a quick look round.’

The fella said, ‘No, you can’t.’

So Teddy said, ‘Come out here, will you? I want to have a word with you.’

The fella said, ‘Hang on.’

After a couple of minutes a different man came out. He had on brown overalls and looked very ordinary. But he had a black eye. So he came out, and said, ‘I’m Detective Sergeant Challenor. What can I do for you?’

I said to Teddy, ‘Let’s go.’

I don’t know what Tanky was doing there. The police put him in a madhouse later. I just wanted to get away.”

Micky Fawcett is the author of Krayzy Days published by Pen Press in 2014

Please leave a comment below.

The White Cliffs of