Monday Book Corner Episode 2: 40 Years with the Krays

Happy Monday errybody.

It’s actually sweltering in Dublin at the moment. I’m sitting at the kitchen table in a t-shirt thinking that even the t-shirt is too hot to wear, but I can’t go backless/strapless/bikini-ed today due to less-than-attractive lobster look acquired yesterday at the Sunday Market. Things could be worse, of course. I could be one of the poor American tourists who decided to come here this week and packed nothing but a range of “Irish Weather Protective Gear” like hiking boots and cagoules, only to find themselves in what can only be described as tropical conditions.

This week the book of choice was also a true story, stemming again from my tendency to become obsessed with other people’s lives and legends. This particular obsession began in Paris, when Jack and I watched Legend starring Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy as the notorious Kray twins. Not only do I love Tom Hardy (so two of him was enough to convince me to watch the film), I also particularly like a) movies based on true stories and b) gangster movies. So this one ticked all the boxes, and so began my interest in the East End’s most infamous siblings. So, this week’s entry is “One of the Family: 40 Years with the Krays”, written by close family friend Maureen Flanagan (available here).

Now one problem, I suppose, in reading a memoir, is that if you already know a lot about someone (aka, you’ve done your research through newspaper articles, the internet etc) the book isn’t going to exactly excite you or have big twists in the plot. It’s just the story of someone’s life. Having said that, it was exciting to get a deeper insight and understanding of these complex chaps through the anecdotes of their lifelong friend, “Flan”. Plus, even though the main events described were similar enough to those shown in the film, there were plenty of smaller details left out in the film which hinted at the mentality of the boys (such as both twins’ bisexual tendencies, for example, and their relationship with their third brother, Charlie, who was never mentioned in the film). The film also revolves heavily around Reggie’s relationship with his first wife, Frances, though in her memoir Flanagan only touches upon their unhappy marriage briefly, focusing more on the twins relationship with their mother, with each other and with society in Swinging London.

Best bits: for a bit of fun, read the book and then watch the movie afterwards, and see if you can spot Tom Hardy perfectly portraying all manner of distinct characteristics of the twins as described by Flanagan. It’s all very clever and amusing.

Could have been better: Sometimes Flanagan writes in an East End accent but sometimes she doesn’t which might be off-putting to some, though we must remember that the lady is not a professional author as such and so we mustn’t be too picky.

Anyway, it’s a very easy read (if not a bit sad) and I would recommend it to anyone who’s excited by a bit of gangland action and London history.

Now I’d better go. I have important things to do like go for a walk and have a glass of wine at 1pm. Such is life in the summertime.

Thanks for reading loves! Chat soon!

K. x

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