Glasgow Razor Gangs

gl215881This notorious daylight attack on a plain-clothes police officer happened in Glasgow in 1971. The officer is seen fending off the slash from a razor with the sleeve of his coat.

Since the beginning of the 20th century the open razor was the weapon of choice for men of violence in the east end of the city. In my novel No Mean Affair, I describe an encounter in 1912 between a ‘Razor King’ and, Danny, a ‘big man’ who can look after himself.

A group of louts stood in the light from the doorway of Craib’s Bar. There were five of them, all with their hands in their pockets. The big man hop-skipped faster, hoping to pass them before they made up their minds whether he was worth rolling.

The leader blocked the path and puffed up his chest. It was Bobby Craig. His arms held back the lapels of his jacket to reveal a razor handle glinting in each pocket of his waistcoat. Danny felt the familiar tightening in his throat and buzz in his ears as his body closed down his finer senses and kicked his survival instinct into gear. His mind was in turmoil, though. How many more of these confrontations could he survive? Would this be the one to leave him spurting blood in the gutter? He consciously swept his mind clear. Self-doubt was a killer.

Craig caressed the hooked ends of the blades.

‘Ah, let’s not go through this again, Bobby,’ Danny said. He sized up the four men behind. None of them appeared armed or ready to back up the main man.

‘Bobby, is it? You’re awfy friendly all of sudden, Mister McAleer.’ He put one fist inside the other in front of his chest and snapped his knuckles theatrically. Then, reversing the grip, he did the same to the other hand.

Danny did not allow himself to be distracted. He scrutinised Craig’s face. ‘Let’s just go our own ways, eh?’ He made to step past him.

‘Hold on, Danny.’ Craig moved to block his path and spat on the ground at his feet. ‘I‘m no’ standing down again –’

Danny made his voice sound tired. ‘I know you have a reputation hereabouts, Bobby. So you’re the Razor King – of the moment. It’s a dying breed, by th’way.’

‘Not yet. There are still a few lessons to be dished out.’ He crossed his arms in front of him and in a split second the blades were there, open in his hands.

The four goons stepped back across the door to the bar. It was just Danny and Craig.



Extract from No Mean Affair (Foxwell Press 2013)

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Robert Ronsson

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11 2016

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