• Jay

CRIMINALS & DEVIANTS - PART 2

CROSS-EXAMINING THE VILLAINS OF NEVERLAND IN SHADOW


Remaining uninteresting to anyone, really, here’s the concluding roll call of selected cads and bounders who pop up, sometimes only once and with little consequence, in the story.


THE LOLLIPOP KILLER

Scene of crime - Chapter 12: De Futuro
Witnessed - Mentioned in a discourse between James Hook and Samuel Smee.

Deborah Alice Edwards, known colloquially as 'The Lollipop Killer' and less often as 'The Party Pooper', is an English murderer and patient of Crippingham secure hospital in Deptford, south-east London.


ALCOPOPS


Edwards, of Chigwell, Essex, caused the deaths of nine employees of the Epping Forest branch of the British Savings Bank via the supply of poisoned ice-lollies by her home-based alcoholic-confectionary firm Essex AlcoPops.

'Deadlier than ever' - but at least these lollies didn't kill you...


It is thought that following the refusal of a business loan by the bank, Edwards sought a contract to supply the bank's local functions and ensured contaminated vodka-based lollies were prominently displayed on the evening in question.


ALFRED MASON

Scene of crime - Chapter 17: Know Your Enemy (and other)
Witnessed - Referenced as an associate of James Hook.

Alfred Mason is a business associate of Mr Hook. Together with his brother Frederick, Alfred relies on Pendulum Properties to acquire the pubs, restaurants and snooker halls the siblings' burgeoning North London leisure empire demands. It's thrilling for Hook to be around the brothers, although the association also makes him nervous.


FREDERICK MASON

Scene of crime - Chapter 17: Know Your Enemy (and other)
Witnessed - Referenced as an associate of James Hook.

Frederick Mason, alongside his brother Alfred, is a business associate of Mr Hook. Together, the brothers are building a leisure empire across North London. Hook, and Pendulum Properties, provide the built infrastructure the Masons' ambitions rely upon.


THE SIDCUP AXEMAN

Scene of crime - Chapter 12: De Futuro
Witnessed - Mentioned in a discourse between James Hook and Samuel Smee.

Charles Bernard Claridge, known also as 'The Sidcup Axeman' was an English spree killer who murdered four people on the afternoon of 29th July 1981 in Sidcup, Kent. Across his time in London's Crippingham secure hospital, Claridge never offered any explanation regarding his crimes.


a royal connection?


Criminologists cannot agree as to whether the fact Claridge chose the day of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer has any significance. Claridge, who had been operated on for a heart complaint died of post-surgery complications on 3rd April 2020.



Roy starkey

Scene of crime - Chapter 29: 3,000 Lumens (and other)
Witnessed - Referenced as an associate of the Mason brothers.

Roy 'Gentleman' Starkey is a scrapyard owner and criminal associate of the Mason brothers, Alfred and Frederick. Having removed, via chemicals, his fingerprints in the chemistry lab at his school Saint Frances’, he is a popular pick for those looking for a bit of hard-to-detect help that’s not strictly adherent to the law of the land.


THE SPICERHILL SPECTRE

Scene of crime - Chapter 42: The Lost Boy Witnessed - Mentioned in discussions between Wendy Darling and Patrick Nibs

The Spicerhill Spectre is an alleged supernatural entity said to haunt the small wooded area of Spicerhill Spinney in the North London district of Spicerhill.


Photographic evidence of the Spectre is both scarce and subjective. Printed accounts of the creature began appearing in 1837, in the weekly journal the North London Oracle. Modern-day historians have recently posited the theory that these reports correlated with wider reporting of sightings of Spring-Heeled Jack, a similar figure first brought to public attention that same year.


The Spicerhill Spinney: captured by an anonymous photographer. Some say they can spot the Spectre in this shot, but many more draw a blank.


INSPIRATION


Although the Spicerhill Spectre does not share Spring-Heeled Jack’s ability to leap massive distances, its capacity to rapidly scale trees and to leap from them prior to descending on a victim is thought to be inspired by those newspaper reports of Jack’s alleged attributes.


An information post, part of the Spicerhill Story Project, is found at the spinney and provides a short history of the Spectre story.


SPRING-HEELED JACK

Scene of crime - Chapter 42: The Lost Boy Witnessed - Mentioned in a discourse between Wendy Darling and Patrick Nibs, in reference to The Spicerhill Spectre (above).

An oilskinned oddball who could leap massive distances and enjoyed scaring the socks off people. Spring-heeled Jack bounced into Victorian London’s consciousness in 1837, and was last reported, in Liverpool, in 1904.

How one publication reported on the fiend dubbed Spring-Heeled Jack.


CLAWS AND BLUE FLAMES


Two separate and celebrated cases, both occurring in February 1838, alleged the figure menaced a couple of young women: Jane Alsop and Lucy Scales. Each spoke of the figure vomiting blue flames and in the former incident of actually being manhandled by claw-like hands.

Jack’s exploits were reported in the newspapers of the day and, perhaps unsurprisingly, were also a fixture in 'penny dreadful' literature. A bit like the final exhibit in our line-up.


SWEENEY TODD

Scene of crime - Chapter 31: The Last Night of the Fair
Witnessed - In the waxworks, where Todd’s barbershop display is a feature of the ‘London in Wax’ exhibition. It’s here that Wendy finds and retains a lost item which she will later return to its owner.

The legend of London’s Demon Barber of Fleet Street recounts how the world-weary snipper would slit his victims’ throats prior to their remains being baked in pies by accomplice Mrs Lovett.


A PENNY DREADFUL STAR


Sweeney took his bow in 1846 via the story The String of Pearls, published in a ‘penny dreadful’ - the phrase used to describe the popular, inexpensive and sensationalist serial publications of the time.


"Going anywhere nice on holiday this year?"


Modern audiences will likely be familiar with the successful Stephen Sondheim musical. It first popped up in 1979 and was itself derived from Christopher Bond’s 1973 play.

More recently has been the Tim Burton-directed film musical from 2007 as well as, a year earlier, a gloriously glum BBC adaptation featuring Ray Winstone.


The writer Peter Haining, in his book Sweeney Todd: the Real Story of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, insisted the story was based on fact, but his claims have been roundly derided by scholars and historians. Nevertheless, the curious can still wend their way to 186 Fleet Street and get on the case for themselves.



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