On Guilty Pleasures
On a Monday night, bored out of my mind, I head to the laundrette to wash my smalls. I can either sit there, in my scanties, watching the machine going round, or I can make my own entertainment.
Luckily, and before there were any complaints, I found a book somebody had thoughtfully left lying about: Bronson, the autobiography of Britain's most violent criminal - Micky Peterson, aka Charles Bronson.
Bronson is known as Britain's most violent criminal, a self confessed nutter with a penchant for taking hostages and ripping the roof of any establishment that may be holding him. He has been free for about three weeks of his entire adult life, during which he killed a dog in a bizarre prize-fight and committed a string of armed robberies. Still, it kept him out of the house.
Eventually jailed for life for the kidnapping of a prison officer, Bronson spends his time writing poetry, drawing, and, evidently, writing his life story. No-one would dare tell him it's crap, because your average literary critic might find it hard to write further reviews without the benefit of lungs. You needn't worry too much, because, as his official website is at pains to point out: "He has NEVER killed anyone!" But the briefest of glances of just about any page in his book proves it's not for the want of trying.
Actually, for a guy with virtually no schooling, it's not that bad, even if it reads like a particularly violent version of Eamonn Holmes' particularly awful offering. That is, if you replace the Holmesian "Needless to say I had the last laugh" at the end of any anecdote with Bronson's "I punched an kicked the hell out of him until six screws jumped on top of me". OK, it is that bad, but holds you in its grip, appalled and fascinated in equal measure.
Famous cons come and go through Bronson's tale, most notably the Kray Twins - with Ronnie writing a short intro to the book ("God bless") - and members of the notorious Richardson gang, who are described in the most glowing terms possible, despite the fact they are all doing stir in some of Britain's most secure prisons on account of all them murders they done.
After a couple of hundred pages, though, all the beatings, kidnappings and bouts of remorse all merge into one, and you could, with very little imagination write the rest of the book yourself:
"And then I met Billy 'Chopper' Hughes, who done in his girlfriend with an axe and ate her foot when the balance of his mind was upset. Lovely kid, he respected me, but had a hard time in the secure block. He died a few years ago. God bless him. When I heard, I hit a screw who got in my face, and I ended up in the block at Wandsworth again. When will I learn!!!"
Charles Bronson. Thug. Offically not a lunatic. Jailbird. Waste of my taxes. Myspace star. Lovely chap. Lovely. He had to nail this coffee table to my head, cos I disrespected him by saying that his book, is, in fact, awful. Lovely fella. God bless him.
Coming up next: Mad Frankie Fraser's book. More of the same, I should think. God bless him.