Butcher Boy ( Part 11, Colin and the Cousins)
After the "corned beef" job, we got a similar delivery every few weeks. The deal would be the same, Gaz would call Roy and say he was on his way and to be ready to unload.
In 6 months we had a variety of goods. One such load was Cowboy Boots! We had 3000 pair of Cowboy Boots. These were very popular in 1975, well, they were in East London. Roy decided that instead of trying to sell them in bulk to his contacts, he would sell them to customers who came into the shop! It was hiarious, woman would come in to get a pound of mince and would leave with 2 pairs of boots, one for her and a bigger pair for her husband. The cutting room became like a bloody changing room, there were people everywhere, trying on different sizes until they found the perfect fit. Word got round and people started coming from all over London to get a pair. Roy was shrewd and if a stranger came in to buy a pair, he would insist that they bought some meat as well. We sold the lot in under 3 weeks and Roy sold an extra £1000 of meat in the process! Another lovely earner!
We also had Lois Jeans. They were a spanish make and were an "up market" Levi. 5000 pair arrived one Thursday morning. Roy and I unloaded the Lorry, same again, far too much than we expected, but of course Roy never said no. Roys brothers lock up was used as was Dads shed. The boxes were mixed lots of sizes and style. There were about 3000 jeans and 2000 corduroy jeans. The corduroys were more expensive and at that time, extremely popular.
Roy thought he could do the same again and sell them to the shop customers. This proved to be a nightmare. Boots were easy to shift, everyone knows what shoe size they are, but jeans was a completely different ball game. You have different leg sizes, waist sizes, style etc. People would come in and end up trying on 5 pairs before they bought any. You could also only have one person at a time in the cutting room trying them on, everytime I went out to restock the window display, there would be a half naked person there trying on bloody jeans!
After a week we abandoned the idea and decided to sell them on in bulk, Gaz wanted his money and Roy was running out of time.
My girlfiend at the time had an Uncle who lived in Bethnal Green. We were due to babysit for them that night. His name was Colin, a big no nonsense east ender. I liked him as soon as I met him, he was a bit "jack the lad", late twenties and worked in the docks. While he was waiting for his wife to get ready, I asked him if he wanted any Lois Jeans. He laughed and said " Not the same ones that had been on Police 5?" ( A popular crime show at that time). I nodded and gave him a wink. 10 minutes later we were in Colins car on our way to the shop, the babysitting had gone out of the window, this was much more important! Colin wanted 1000 pair and was confident of selling them in the docks.
Roy took a chance with Colin, bearing in mind he had never met the guy before, he shook hands and let Colin drive away with 1000 pairs of expensive Lois Jeans. Within a week, Colin had paid Roy and took another 500 pair. They became firm friends and Colin would prove to be a great contact for Roy in months to come.
Another big plus about meeting Colin was he introduced Roy to two of his friends. They were cousins " Teddy and Danny" ( I never knew their last names and I'm not sure if Roy ever did!). All we knew at the time was that they were from "The Island". For those that are not familiar with East London, "The Island" means the Isle of Dogs. Its the round bit that you see at the start of Eastenders!. Although called an Island, its only surrounded by water on 3 sides. There's a few theories as to how it got its name. Some say its because Edward 111 used to let his greyhounds roam there, others say because it was mainly marshland hundreds of years ago, there were large colonies of water birds, so it was called the Isle of Ducks and over the years Ducks became Dogs. Locals say its because anyone forced to live there led a "Dogs Life!".
The main thing to know was that it was a "hard" place to live. You had to be hard to survive living there. Teddy and Danny pretty much "ran" the Island. These were proper gangsters. The real thing, I had never met anyone that carried a gun before. These guys did!
They were not big in size but had a presence about them that commanded respect.
They absolutely loved Roy!
Roy was impressed when he was introduced to them because they seemed to know all about him. He was simply known in the East End as "The Butcher". Over the past year if something went missing or a lorry was hi-jacked or something appeared in the papers about stolen goods, apparently everyone said something like " I bet the Butchers involved"
Roy loved the admiration especially as it came from two very notorious faces!
The first time I met them they simply said" Ah you must be the Butcher Boy, heard a lot about you son!".
So from then on, Roy was " The Butcher" and I was the " Butcher Boy".
Roy was now in "The Premier League" as far as he was concerned. He had Gaz and his team that could get anything, Mr Patel, had the cash to buy most things, Colin had enough contacts to distribute through the East End and now he had the Cousins to back him up with muscle if needed.
What could possibly go wrong, the shops were making money and the deals were getting bigger and bigger!