Since the end of the year is usually the time for me to spend day and night watching British tv dramas (anything with police, villains, Sherlock or Gene Hunt will do), i thought it would be fitting to blog about an exhibition i saw a few days ago at Foto8 gallery.
Over 10 years ago, Jocelyn Bain Hogg followed and portrayed the protagonists of organised crime in South London. Gangsters, funerals, big rings, big cigars, diamond-encrusted knuckle duster, more funerals, pimps and prostitutes, etc. His book The Firm pictures them all.
More recently, as he was working on a project documenting teenage gun and knife crime across Britain, the photographer found himself driven to go back to London gangsterland and have another look at the people who were supplying weapons and drugs to housing estates. The characters he met are the heirs of the gangsters whose every day life Bain Hogg had followed in the late 1990s but if they are the new generation, these men are also aware that the heydays of the British mob are long gone:
Joe Pyle senior and the Kray twins, the old-school Godfathers of British crime, have died since The Firm was completed in 2001 and in 2008 I found a fractured society of British criminals with little or no organization and leadership who are vainly competing, as many businesses have to do, with international competition.
Russians, Albanians, Kosovans and Turks rule the UK underworld now but the indigenous villains still wear their heritage on their sleeves, talking business at unlicenced boxing matches and night clubs and working with their Jamaican brothers - the Yardies - for a slice of the criminal pie.
The Family picks up where The Firm left. Joey Pyle is dead and Joe Pyle Jnr has taken over. Together with brothers Mitch, Warren, Alan (adopted by Joey Pyle to ensure that business would stay in the family should something happen to his son) and associate Teddy Bambam, Joe forms the core of The Family (dubbed by the US press "The Sopranos of Mitcham".)
One thing is sure: i can't imagine the men picture above being as soft-spoken as the Krays were in 1965 (let alone being invited by the BBC to talk about their innocence):