A few days ago I got an email from Michael Morgan, who’d acted as press agent for Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones (the greatest burglar ever and one of my mother’s cousins to boot): “I wonder if you could find time and get in touch with me regarding a story about ‘Ray the Cat’ in Wales on Sunday on 1st November?” I replied: “I have to go into The City on Friday, if you’re still based around Dalston maybe we could meet at the The Masque Haunt (the Wetherspoons on the corner of Old Street and Bunhill Row) at 3pm on Friday? If this isn’t good let me know another day or time that is… And if you’re not in Dalston any more let me know…” Since I’d not heard back, and I felt like heading home to The Island (Isle of Dogs E14 that is, not Long Island) when I’d finished my editorial tasks on the Semina fiction series in the Book Works office, I called Michael Morgan on his mobile. Unfortunately all I got was an answer service, so I left message saying I’d head to the Masque Haunt anyway in the hope that he was there.
I arrived bang on time and had the joy of going around all the solitary afternoon drinkers (about a dozen) asking if they were Michael Morgan. None of them were, but I got asked plenty of questions by a couple of drinkers who seemed a bit bored. Is he a relative? Why don’t you know what he looks like? Why do you want to find him? Where’s he from? Is he thin and tall? So as a psychogeographical exercise in the classic ‘letterist’ style, this non-meeting sparked off many conversations and was very revealing of the ambiance of that particular bar (progressively proletarian, during the daytime anyway, and far more so than when I used to drink there a decade ago)… but I’m still curious to know what there is to discuss about the recent Wales On Sunday article. The piece by Nathan Bevan merely repeats in Michael Morgan’s words a story I’d blogged way back in June using a rare example of Ray The Cat’s own writing.
The long and the short of it is that Ray was always insistent he became a major league burglar to avenge himself against the cops, who’d fitted him up and in the process inadvertently caused the death of his brother. It’s nice to see information about my most famous criminal relative becoming more widely known, since Wales On Sunday clearly reaches a few people who don’t regularly check this blog, but what really interests me is putting fresh information about Ray The Cat into the public domain. This was, of course, one of the things that really pleased me about my last Ray Jones blog, I was making available a story that as far as I knew was not until then a matter of public record. And it is, of course, particularly important that this tale of a fit-up becomes as well known as Ray’s legendary jewel thefts and prison escapes.
Hopefully I will manage to meet up with Michael Morgan soon, and get some new stories. But if you have any tales about Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones, please post them in the comments below or email them to me via my website contact form. Only by stories about Ray being collected and disseminated can his legend live on!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!