Journalism - Arena
At home with Dave Courtney
East End gangster turned media star, 'Dodgy' Dave Courtney welcomes Kieren McCarthy to Camelot Castle, his Plumstead homeHe was the inspiration for Vinnie Jones' Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels character and the security organiser for Ronnie Kray's funeral. Now multimedia tough-nut Dave Courtney opens up to Arena
What makes a man a man?
A man's own self-confidence. It all depends on what type of man you're talking about. Whether you're happy with what sort of man you are, or whether your wife is happy with the sort of man you are, because she might want a different man than you. She might think what makes a man is coming home with a permanent hard-on an' shagging 'er brains out 24 hours a day, and for her that might be the perfect man. You, on the other hand, you might be quite happy with a wank on the way to work.
Who is your role model?
I haven't got one. I am a role model. But a man I admire is Richard Branson. He's the fucking bollocks, mate. He's a normal bloke, normal geezer, but he can be [affects posh voice] 'Oh yes, absolutely, that'll be one thousand pounds,' or he's 'Fack off, these are my Rizla'. I've gotta take my 'at off to 'im.
What can't you do?
The splits. Nah, but with time, I could most probably do anything. I have the Filofax with most of the numbers in to open most doors.
What's your biggest fear?
Spiders. Any of the fackin' things, I just hate 'em. I don't like the way that when they see yer they actually run towards yer.
What would people be surprised to hear about you?
That I don't actually eat babies and run around killing people. I do what I do on site. I come home and I'm the same as you are. I'm actually quite normal. Because you do something bad as a job, that doesn't necessarily make you a bad person.
What's your biggest indulgence?
My missus. And she likes the wine, women and song, so I'm very 'appy.
What's on your bedside table?
A packet of large Rizlas, a gun and a clock.
Do you have a recurring dream?
I do, but they're too rude to put in Arena - Norman Tebbit dressed up as a gimp [laughs].
What's your most unappealing habit?
I snore. Very loudly. But I don't sleep a lot. I sleep every other night. And that enables me to have three more days a week than you.
Who do you trust with your life?
Me. Me and my missus. There are people that have holes in them that have saved my life. I am luckier than most people, I have about 20 good friends - I have 12 fantastic friends. That's why this place is called Camelot. I have a round table out the back, for 12 knights, a knight in shining armour on the wall, a sword in a stone going in the front garden. They are 12 good friends - but to trust with my life, my lady and myself.
What do you look for in a partner?
All that about 'opposites attract'? Well that's crap. If you get, like, a light sleeper and I snore, that'll bugger everything up. Now if she likes opera and I like raving, banging on one, it just isn't gonna work. I've actually got a lady that from the day 1 met her, she said: 'Listen, I am Plasticine for you. You just make me into anything you want, and I'll be that for you.' And I've made a female me.
You gotta have a good sense of humour. Everything I do, however serious - robbing banks, shooting people, debt collecting, throwing squatters out - I do it funny. My biggest input into the criminal fraternity is morale. I give morale. When people have the police around and say, 'Crime don't pay,' they look at me and say, 'Yes it fackin' does.' That is why I am still under constant surveillance, my house is bugged, my telephones are bugged. From that white house over there, they're there filming me. They tried next door, and he said 'No', and then they went next door, and he came over and said, 'Look, - they've just been into my 'ouse asking for you.'
I am a bad advert for the police. I'm not saying to anyone be a criminal, because now is the wrong time of the fuckin' century to be a criminal. The police are too clever, they have too much money now to not catch you.
Two years ago, I could have got 20 fackin' years for somefink I never done. For going, 'Yeah, go see 'im.' I've been in prison for it, that's why I feel strongly about it. I spent a year in fackin' remand in Belmarsh. But I got Not Guilty. I'll tell you what happened. I said to the judge, I said, 'Listen, pure hypothetical Your Honour, if I introduced you to that lady in the jury, and she gave you a dose, is that my fault?' My barrister stood up and said, 'Mr Courtney has a question Your Honour.' Judge said, 'No.' I said, 'Right' 'Thank Christ.
Pictures: Alan Scrimger