WHO KNOWS the truth about Ray “The Cat” Jones: the world’s most notorious burglar or a small-time jailbird loved by journalists grateful for his exciting yarns about robbing the fabulously rich?
So writer Stewart Home has chosen to tell the master thief’s story as a novel rather than a documentary book.
The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones tells of a Ray Jones, who nearly became world middleweight boxing champion but instead turned into the greatest-ever cat burglar, stealing jewellery from megastars Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, the private papers of the Duke of Windsor, paintings by Rembrandt and the furs of the London upper-class women, often approached via the rooftops, above, of the Mayfair district.
Ray’s carefully targeted burglaries are perfectly planned and thrillingly executed, as is his jail breakout, one of the most stunning in recent English penal history.
All of the extraordinary incidents figure in the real life of the now-dead (natural causes) Dalstoner.
In the novel, Jones, having been sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, becomes a modern Robin Hood, waging a class war against the rich, like a Russell Brand without the looks or the conspiracy-theory gullibility.
Home, says the publisher Test Centre, combines Cockney rhyming slang with political discourse, making the hero’s life a political protest and call for action, with humour.
Test Centre, a small local firm, describes it as “a great London novel, a vision of the city’s underworld from wartime to the present.
“It moves between the clubs of Soho, populated by gangsters and gamblers, to the wealthy mansions of Kensington and Hampstead, inhabited by corrupt politicians and millionaires, and inside the walls of the city’s prisons”.
The real Raymond Jones died at 84 of pancreatic cancer in Homerton hospital, Hackney, early in February 2001.
She has founded a little bird whispered (sorry, the lower case is the style of the name), a company “dedicated [she says] to sensory artistic expression”.
One of its expressions is abook of photography and poetry, which will be released in Brick Lane, during an evening of music, art, poetry and candles. Hippy, yes, but probably happy-making, too.
David Altheer 261014
* Test Centre releases The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones (ISBN 978-0-9926858-4-3) on Thurs 30 Oct 2014, price £15.
* A Little Bird Whispered releases Salt (ISBN 9780993070006, £9.99) at Kahaila, 135 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB on Thurs 6 Nov 2014. Tickets £3.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.