Monday, 24 August 2009

“The End – Confessions Of A Cockney Gangster” – A Review Of The 2008 DVD.

“…Apples And Pears Darling…”

Only a few days ago, I was cycling into work in the morning sunshine and had stopped at the traffic lights immediately beside Holborn Tube station in Central London. And I heard something really unusual. It was a Cockney accent. By the railings just as you come out of the entrance was a brand new fruit trader shouting his Beau Bells head off like they do - prices of plums, bananas, apples and pears, weather reports, comments on the ladies and their pencil skirts, lurid remarks about their wobbling bums and heaving cleavage. And I thought now that's refreshing...

I mentioned it to the boys when I got into work a few minutes later because - (a) apart from the fruit market at the bottom of our Berwick Street, you just don't hear that 'exclusive' London accent anymore... and (b) there is no one more politically incorrect and therefore as funny as a Cockney.

"The End - Confessions Of A Cockney Gangster" is about the East End of London and the criminals that arose out of it. If you are born within earshot of the bells of the London Church of St. Mary-Le-Bow in Cheapside - you're a proper Cockney from the East End of London (nicknamed "The End"). The style of the film is a daughter interviewing her criminal Dad and associates - trying to understand why they did what they did - and still do. It's done in a documentary style and consists of interviews with 11 people - some are reformed Christians, some unrepentant who still spend their lives avoiding the law and its consequences.

Written, filmed and directed by NICOLA COLLINS, the danger in this film is that the cheeky-wide-boy antics of these thugs becomes mere entertainment and the very real destruction they reaped on people's lives and their communities gets lost in a wave of sappy nostalgia that isn't deserved. But Nicola bravely doesn't shirk it in what she leaves 'in' about her Dad and his buddies...what she could have edited out and didn't. So there are times when the reminiscences are sickeningly violent, grotesque and tortuous to a point where you think these uneducated yobs are little more than animals, but there are also times when the remembered characters and events are ball-breakingly funny - violent and funny - and at times of course - a strange mixture of both.

All of them talk of 'bird' - doing prison-time. Some can hack it, many can't. Some are even smart enough to realize the staggering waste of it all - all those years banged up because they couldn't shut up and control themselves. As to why they turn to crime, there's the convenient and shallow excuse about poverty and having to find a way out of it - few seem willing to admit that they took the easy road while ordinary people simply grafted for their families and loved ones. Some talk about keeping the violence away from their loved ones - but again it reeks of hypocrisy. Dad gets banged up while the wife, son and daughter get left behind and screwed by it... Two are now born-again Christians - sickened to their very souls by the corruptive nature of what they were doing. They actually seem saved to me...and not in the least bit sappy.

But as the Capitol city of Great Britain literally becomes the melting pot of the world, you can't help but feel that 'suited 'n' booted' Cockneys are a life force that's disappearing in a sea of other Nationalities... In a few years, will they even exist at all? Who knows?

So what's it all about Alfie?

Although there's a sort of guilty voyeuristic pleasure to be had in this strange film, I was finally left with an all-abiding feeling of sadness, a way of life that led too many of these men into wasted years behind bars at her Majesties Service - which is exactly where you can't help but feel the snot-noses who run Great Britain want all of them. Keep them uneducated; you keep them in their corner...

Cockneys are both full of shit and full of fun. Underworld Cockneys are even more so. Everyone knows that. And I don't know why we have such affection for them - I really don't.

But a part of me hopes that in some way, that Fruit Trader makes it...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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