I first met Dr John Pope-de-Locksley outside St Paul’s just after the most beautiful London sunset I'd ever witnessed. Unlike most people who had crossed my path in the day’s city saunterings in the aftermath of The International Pillow Fight, he seemed unphased by my attire of lavish silky robe or the fact I was hugging a pillow. The more I got acquainted with him through his skilled oratory of astonishing events and eccentric manner, the more it made sense that he should take my outlandish appearance in his stride.
The reason for our meeting was I was embarking on a haunted city tour in celebration of a friends birthday and as our guide, we couldn't quite believe our luck that we should come across such a priceless character, he seemed the perfect accompaniment to our wanderings around a deserted financial district whilst the downing of wine and canned Pimms. In fact there was talk amongst the party of kidnapping him and proceeding to get him drunk in the pub after but had we followed up this desire we would have been left disappointed as though once an alcoholic, Dr John (also known as Dr Jack) since converting to Islam has given up the sauce although he does admit he's still partial to the odd red wine and coke concoction.
Following the tour I looked him up and was highly fascinated by all I read, as a historian, magician, expert ripperologist, frequenter of Goth clubs, a contributor to books and magazines on preternatural subjects, third degree witch, natural shaman and master of yoga (amongst many other things) and thought I'd arrange to talk to him some more. I visited him in his flat in Clapton and he regaled me with tales of what it was like running around with The Krays' as a boy, having a father who was a hit man, hunting vampires, working as a psychic detective on high-profile abduction cases, life in the 60's to a crash course in Cockney.
In the short time that followed between our first and second meeting, I was stunned to find that his hair and rather avant- garde facial hair had departed from a shade of white to that of bright red. He told me the lady downstairs had done it, as he longed to restore his natural colour of auburn but he too was shocked with how dark it had come out.
Before I commence with the questioning he takes to interviewing me.
"Did you go to Cheltenham Ladies school?" he said inquisitively. Giggling I tell him "No".
“You have a very posh accent." he challenges.
This is a common misconception I experience in my day to day life. I offer "I have a deceptively posh accent but am not, tis a curious phenomenon."
He responds with "I actually am, I grew up in luxury with a silver spoon in my mouth, my auntie, had a hotel by the seaside. I speak with a Sussex accent, so I'm told."
Not really knowing where to start due to the preponderance of his interests and professions I ask whether there is anything in particular he feels more of an affinity towards- perhaps acting? "You know, you name it and I've done it, literally. Yes I am an actor, an all round entertainer, a ventriloquist, a conjurer and all sorts."
"But I've been the other side, as a young man I served my country, in various regiments, my family were all military, my great great grandfather Henry Robins, was artist to her Majesty the Queen (Victoria), he had been a sergeant of the royal marine artillery. I was invited to go into the exclusive royal marine volunteer boys forces, I started off with the basics, then did the radio signals then onto the commando unit. September 1966 we went out on a special mission and I got my head bashed with shrapnel. I was only 13 but pretending to be 18. I had a medical discharge in the end and was very disappointed."
"In 1969, though I don't have any documents to prove this (framed documents that prove many of his assertions deck the walls of his living room as well as letters from the Queen and Downing Street)- I was in the SASS special squadron, they made a film on it called' Juggernaut', what happened was in 1969, a terrorist put a bomb on Queen Elizabeth II, they didn't know what to do, so they came to me and asked me to volunteer. Me and another guy, they made us lieutenants, we put on a parachute, did five minutes training in an old barn. I hadn't the faintest idea how to dispose of a bomb but they chucked us out over the Atlantic and that was that! It turns out there wasn't a bomb but the people in this country in positions of authority used to have a saying 'you've got to put on a good show', parachuting, it’s not really my cup of tea.
I stopped having anything to do with the services after the early 70's, although technically I am still with the Beds and Heart regiment, I've never been officially discharged.
I then worked for the Ministry of Defence for 21 years then I retrained and became a security specialist up until 2002 when I took new qualifications as an assistant pharmacist and herbalist, after a while I then set the Ghost touring business up to make some money.
I was given a course on Jack the Ripper by Paul, the author of several books on Jack the Ripper, my interest stemmed from when I was a suspect in the Railway murders, before John Duffy, I thought it was a good form of self analysis so I got into reading about Jack through that."
At this point I interrupted him, (you can't allow someone to slip such a dramatic statement into conversation without elaborating upon it). "Tell me how you came to be a suspect?" “Well back when I was younger I had a criminal record, I was involved in the hunt for The Highgate Vampire, I'm part Jewish and am descended from the original Jacob and I'd studied the Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism and knew David Farrant. We decided to raise the spirit of some ghosts and things that could aid us in an old house in Highgate and people phoned the police and they arrested us and accused us of trying to set fire to the house by witchcraft.
As far as the papers were in those days they ran stories like 'The Islamic Satanists practising the black magic, the Jewish Satanists with their voodoo rituals.' The fact I was Jewish and performing the Kabbalah was as far as they were concerned a form of satanism. I was prosecuted for trying to convert a catholic into practising the Kabbalah. I also had a conviction for assault; I hired someone who was 19 to clean my room and this boy got up my nose and he broke things so I whacked him with a plastic ruler on his backside which the police insisted because it was a slap on the backside, was a sexual offence. It used to be that peeing up against the wall was a sexual offence, indecent conduct they called it.
In 1974 I was brought in as a hostile witness against a man who was accused of taking bodies and putting stakes through them at Highgate Cemetery. It's not a criminal offence but they tried to insist that it was. They said they had 1000's of photographs of him performing ceremonies with bodies hanging out of coffins but it was revealed that the photographs were of Kensal Green ceremonies in the 1960's, so the police case started going down the drain so they jailed him for having his father's revolver without a license, so when he came out of prison he sued all the newspapers and I was part of the big trial to do with that but he didn't give me any of the money."
He then goes further back in time to talk about a fun and dubious phase of his youth.
"I was a gangster for the Nickifaru gang as a part-time job in the 1970's and 1980's. Andraus Nickifaru was Ronnie Kray's boyfriend, we met in 1967, he used to live around the corner from here, did Ron in Cazenove Road and we used to muck about in the flat, I knew Andraus and when he grew up, he ran all of London and I used to work for him."
"Do you remember how you first met The Kray Twins?"
"My father must have been working for them on and off for years. He was in the army and then he was discharged because of injuries then worked in an office. I knew he worked for them but he never said until before he died. He told me what he did but I knew what he did; he was a hit man who shot people. He shot the boxer Freddie Mills who used to run the night spot. It was believed that Freddie Mills was a mass murderer, killing all these prostitutes. My father confessed to me to having shot him.
He had a big motor car for a man on £12 a week, which was the average wage of an office clerk in those days, you don't just go out and buy a new car. It was early March 1967 when I came to live in London, he took me down to this east end place, he`tried to put me in a cafe when this lady came out, it was Violet Kray and she said "Don't do that, I will look after your son, why don't you go and see my sons" and he came in later and said "I've got to go off and do a job and I will be back". It was ten o'clock in the morning when he left and six o'clock at night when he returned. I was sat in that little room there and I watched Violet Kray sit in the window in the chair on the right with the chair on the left empty and everyone would come in and sit and talk to her. I met Frances O Shea, strange people, would never put the TV on, very strange. I liked Ron, I got on with him. He was a bubbly, nice man, he had his dark side. Reg was always austere, he never smiled, never said anything.”
With a mischievous look in his eye he proceeds to relay an anecdote.
"I used to have lots of girlfriends, tasty girls, as Andraus did but we were both bisexual and we got it together in Ron's bed and he came in and caught us." "How did that go down?" "Well it was nothing like in the films, he came in and was wearing a grey suit and got half way across the room to his wardrobe when he turned around, he said "you two, get dressed and outside".
We all sat on a chair around the coffee table and he spoke mainly to Andraus and said "Look John's dad works for me and he doesn't like this sort of thing, so you've got to stop being friends". Instead of having a go at me, he said "I don't mind what your getting up to" but that was before the party.
We were knocking around together all over the east, I remember we went into one of the pubs and got free coca-cola. When Jack McVitie was stabbed to death it was Andraus' birthday party, not like in the film, this person telling the story in the film is talking nonsense, they keep getting this guy Bill Hackerman and all the stories are from him and I always contradict him, I say, that's just not what happened. I was there at the party and the house is still there. Jack got hold of Andraus up against these tables and started bullying him and I went out and got Reg and he walked over and said 'What's the problem Jack?' and Jack pulled out an automatic pistol and it jammed so Reg grabbed one of the knives from the kitchen table which was laid out for the food at the party and stabbed him so I legged it out the door and didn't want to see anymore.
When Ron turned up, he didn't care for me being there, he said "What's he doing ‘ere? Get rid of him". I was 14 at the time. The Krays were in their early thirties. Andraus ended up committing suicide in 1988". When asked on how such unhappy endings made him feel he said- "Well I battled through it. I am an old warrior, you know, get on with the next stage."
Comfortable with the form of the monologue, it has been superfluous to requirements for me to give him any direction for rather a while. I suggest he elaborates on other interesting ancestral facts and quite grand honours and titles bestowed upon him.
"Knight Templus excemplus in the order of St Gregory and Sarkis was given to me by the Pope of Rome for services rendered. King Tiger 2nd of Otelga Nigeria was given to me by the government, in the early 1980s I knew Chief Williams, the ambassador from Nigeria for Britain. I was at a party with him and Margaret Thatcher was there and she said "Can you do anything to help the country?" I went out there undercover. I was also a very high-ranking Freemason at one time and my father's mother's, stepbrother was a serious suspect in the Ripper case. I'm a doctor of Metaphysics and Divinity and have cupboards full of diplomas on different subjects. I'm master of the black arts and don't have to get information out of books. I have a rapport with certain spirits and I'm an actual psychic and medium. I do Psychometry."
With this comment, I take the opportunity to be presented with a demonstration, having observed him perform the technique before to others bafflement. I pull up a chair next to him, remove a hair toggle from my wrist and offered him my hand. He closes his eyes and concentrates and then reports what he sees as it becomes clearer.
"I'm only getting your face at the moment. Wait, downstairs of a basement, an old house, an elderly gentleman and flowers, a carpet with flowers on, an old fashioned house, the gentleman is tallish, walking with a stoop, appears to have a walking stick. That's all I'm getting. Does that mean anything to you?" In all honesty it did not, I said perhaps it described the future rather than the past. He goes on to discuss in detail work he has conducted as a psychic.
"I've worked as a psychic detective for the police, to the press and things I don't give my name. The one I will tell you about I spoke about on the radio and they didn't believe me. I saw something about where the little girl McCann was, all I got from her was, she said she was under the ground next to something furry but that was all I could get out of her, she was only four so prob couldn't describe it. I worked on the Ipswich murder case. I looked at photos of the dead women and spoke to them, I got the car number plate and gave it to the police and it was exactly the one that was published in the newspaper the next day so I think they got the right man.
I also worked on the case of the little girl who was murdered down in Sussex and I think they got the wrong pervert for that one, 'cause she kept coming to me in the early hours of the morning and would speak to me for about a week until I phoned the police, it was very upsetting that one was. She kept going on about the Hurdy Gurdy Man, she gave me an image of a man that was Greek with a white shirt and a white van, so not sure if they got the right man. Payne her name was.
One of the first ones I worked on was the Yorkshire Ripper. My name was published on that one in the 'Unexplained Magazine' and the police gave me cards of thanks. I pinpointed Peter Sutcliffe and drew a picture exactly like him. A little boy disappeared back in the 1970's and I said to the newspapers that I could see someone in uniform and a lot of sand and they said you're talking absolute nonsense, then the next day it was announced on the radio he was found dead by a policeman in uniform in a big pile of sand." It seems a continuous theme and problem of his life, that is of not being believed or being misunderstood. It's understandable given the far-fetched nature of his assertions and the tendency for humanity to mistrust what they can't explain or comprehend.
On his website he mentioned that he has attained Master of Ketsugo, first Dan Kyshindo Judo Japan and bronze medal in Judo. I enquire whether he still practices any martial arts, he responds in a tone that is both Que Sera and a touch forlorn that "I'm not supposed to do Judo anymore because I have a pacemaker.”
As an enthusiast of the era, I invite Dr Jack to give me a rendition of what it was like living in London in the late 60's and was surprised by his response.
"People weren't modern. People walk around in clothes today that they think are 1960's, those that had money and pop stars used to wear but most people didn't. Working class people used to have their sleeves undone and wipe their nose on their sleeve, they'd have everything hanging out, they wouldn't wash their clothes. A family invited me over and everything was dirty and they wanted me to eat and I started getting concerned and I said germs, they said "Germs don't exist, the government invented them to control your mind!" I can tell you a story about these times but I will have to change a rude word and use a different word for it."
Laughingly I told him he didn't have to censor himself and he said "OK, if you rather. My dad bought me a telescope (with his dirty money) and I would sit in the park and look at the moon and these scruffy boys walked past and said "What are you doing?" and I told them I was looking at the planets, that there was a science called astronomy and he said "Is that French for, I'm a cunt?". That was people's attitudes back then, they were ignorant and they walked around in 1930's clothes.
There were punks before the punks. I was one of the first skinheads, we were right-wing, we had black people in it, the leader of the gang had a black girlfriend, Jewish people were in it, it was not racist but people used to shave their heads, wear the braces and kick people. It was an east-end protest against the upper-class.
Cockney was my first language, it's not just rhyming slang, it's local language and a mixture of foreign words, gypsy and Irish. It was my Auntie who taught me to speak English. Here's an example of a cockney story.
There's a new rubber-dub-dub opened down the frog, we'll nip in there for a tiddly-wink, so we got in there and got the pigs ear, I said I've just remembered that tailor, you know the four by two round the little Jack Horner has got some new smutter. When you've finished your tiddly-wink we'll nip round there and give the smutter a shufty and see how many whistle and flute done. We got round there, saw all the old china, show us your smutter, we understand you've got some new clobber in, so we want to give it a butchers to see how many whistle and flute, so we got in and felt it and saw that it was actually cushty so I said look look, how much do you want, he said a couple of jack's alive and I said that's not bad so look there's a new nosebag opened over the frog so we'll nip in there for a bit of nosh and Rosy Lee, think about your smutter and then come back and give it another shufty later on. We go over the road and there was this rozzer standing outside, said Gordon Bennett, may a bit claret on the floor, there's been a punchup, you buzz off, I'll nip round to see the Mrs, might get a bit of how's your father.
That was how people used to talk when I was a young man. The translation is-
There's a new pub over the road, we should go in and sample the beer there. We got in and got a couple of drinks and before we finished, I said I've just remembered the Jewish tailor around the corner, he's got some new good quality materials, we'll go and have a look and maybe have a new suit made so what we did was we went round there and said look look me old friend, can you show us this new material, we understand its pretty good, so he got it out and it was, it was quite good, so I said how much do you want and he said it's only a couple of fivers, I said that's not bad, so well look there's a new restaurant open over the road, so I want to go over there and sample their food and their tea and think about it and come back and have another look but when we got over there, there was a policeman outside, thought there might have been a fight, so I said you ought to go home, I'm going to go and see my girlfriend, I might have sex if I'm lucky."
He then carries on telling myself and my photographer cockney ways of saying rude words and we were quite bemused with one expression - so and so banks at Barclay's. What has Barclay's got to do with it we beseech him for an insult that rhymes with banker? He wasn't sure! He then gives us a tour of his museum of crime and horrors where Reg Kray's sword hangs from the wall and there are all sorts of odd paraphernalia, such as ex-girlfriend voodoo dolls, plastic brains and old newspapers from the Ripper era. We leave him be to change into his fez and cravat for his early evening audition for a ventriloquist job but not before he treats us to a quick showcase with his puppets. A bizarre and hilarious few minutes ensued. Then we were off with many stories in our heads to ponder and the hope that the audition went well. Britain ought to preserve its unique characters such as Dr Jack rather than mock as he could just be right and even if not thoroughly entertaining.