RIP Bertie Smalls
The first “supergrass” Bertie Smalls has passed away. I’d never heard of him until I opened The Guardian this morning. This would not normally be worth a comment, except Smalls died of natural causes aged 72. And let’s not underestimate this achievement given what he did and when.
Smalls “shopped” 28 of his bank robbing mates in the ’70s. As he left the witness box his former colleagues sang, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.” One of these colleagues spent many hours in jail teaching his budgie to say, “Bertie Smalls is a fucking grass.”
Smalls did go into hiding and was given a new identity. But he turned down the opportunity to leave the country and never had plastic surgery. He was even spotted in his old North London haunts and was once beaten up in a South London carpark. But he still managed to live into his own ’70s.
As Hugh Muir’s Diary points out though, Bertie’s “shopping achievement” pales in comparison with Michael Michael. I’d never heard of him either. Michael shopped 34 other people and helped smash 26 drug networks. But impressively (according to reports in 2001) he “sold out his mother, wife, brother and lover in an attempt to receive the most lenient sentence possible.” Diary doesn’t say if he was successful. But somewhere, I’ll bet there is a whole flock of budgies that can say, “Michael Michael is a fucking grass.”