INTERVIEW WITH MAURICE ‘BIG MO’ DOLAN:
PROTAGONIST OF NICK RIPPINGTON’S NEW NOVEL – WORKING TITLE: HEADERS
Hi. I’m Paul Melluish, crime writer with London’s Evening Guardian. Currently I’m putting a book together about the most dangerous criminals of the 70s and 80s and was granted exclusive access to Maurice ‘Big Mo’ Dolan, renowned sub-Post Office robber currently incarcerated in London’s Belmarsh Prison. Here is the transcript of our conversation…
ME: Nice to meet you Maurice. Or should I call you Big Mo?
A: Call me what you want within reason, mate… if it’s anything insulting, though, I’ll introduce you to Reg. And I’ll warn you, you don’t wanna meet Reg.
A: My best mate. Look… (Mo withdraws Polaroid picture from jacket. It is a snap of three men, smiling into the camera. A younger Mo has a 3ft piece of scarred wood in his hand with a spherical ball on the end)
ME: Which one is Reg? The one with the scarred face?
A: No dumb dumb. That’s Handsome Frank. You ain’t heard of Handsome? One of my most loyal mates. Do you know he punched a cow once? I’m serious. We had just done this Post Office blag down in Kent and got stuck in this country road with the Filth givin’ chase. There were cows all over the bloody place. We were going to get caught and Frank completely lost it. He’s a former boxer, right? He jumped out the back of the van and gave this cow an uppercut. Off his head, was Frank. Still, it started a stampede and we got away. I miss him, Frank, but not as much as Reg.
ME: So Reg is the other guy. The one with the tats?
A: No, that’s Cozza. Finest locksmith I know. He got us into this warehouse in Romford. We got clean away with so many guns, so much ammunition we didn’t know what to do with it. You must have read about it; it was all over the papers. The publicity made it difficult for us to offload them, though, and we paid the penalty. Well, I’m in here, aren’t I? If I ever find out who the grass was…
ME: So this Reg. He isn’t in the picture then?
A: Oh, he’s in the picture all right. That’s Reg (Mo puts his finger on the wooden ‘club’ in his hand).
ME: You’re talking about that… stick?
A: Not a stick. It’s a curtain pole. Best pal I ever had. Any time I got in trouble it was Reg to the rescue. Named him after Reggie Kray cos he was a nasty piece of work, just like the Kray twins were.
A: You’re confused. Look at it this way, right? I never had anything going for me. The old man was a bastard – a career criminal who always put himself first, at the expense of me, my brother Clive and my sister. As a result, I went a bit astray at school. When I was expelled I ran away from home with me Mrs, Beryl. She fell pregnant and we got a flat in one of those ugly London hi-rises, courtesy of the council. We had no choice. I couldn’t find work and, of course, it’s always expensive to live in London. When you live in the kind of place we were staying, in the East End, you need some protection. There’s always someone out there who wants to take the piss and you got to stand up for yourself, put your foot down with a firm hand (chuckles). Found Reg in a pub… discarded. I saw a kindred spirit and thought ‘He’ll do for me’. No one disrespected me after that…
ME: What did Beryl think?
A: Oh, does it matter? Let me tell you something about my wife. She’s also my soul mate, right? Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our issues, of course we have… name me a married couple that doesn’t. We’re still together after all this time. Fifteen years. She’s my rock.
ME: When you say issues. How do you mean?
A: (Mo leans forward, looks me menacingly in the eye) Nosy fucker, ain’t you?
ME: I’m just trying to find out about the real Mo; to understand things from your point of view.
A: (Mo leans back, sighs) Look, I’ve had to straighten her out a few times, of course I have. I always regret it, though, and she hasn’t always been in the wrong. To be completely truthful with ya, I had an affair. It was a complete mistake and I ain’t proud of it. I was suffering all this stress, though, see? I had no money, had suffered a couple of nasty losses in the bookies and at cards, and my dad wasn’t prepared to let me join the family ‘business’. I was trying to look after two kids on this crummy, rundown estate. My closest friend, my younger brother Clive, had gone off to fight in the Falklands and, basically, it got too much. I lost the plot for a bit. There was I struggling to make ends meet and our old man was living the high life in this country mansion out Chigwell way, bought from the proceeds of his crimes. Skipped the country now, of course. He was forced to move to the Costa Del Crime.
ME: You’re talking about Billy The Kid Dolan? There were rumours he was part of the Brink’s-Matt gang that got away with millions from that trading estate heist near Heathrow in 1983.
A: I can’t say anything about that. I was locked up in here when that all went down.
ME: How did it all resolve itself? Your stress problem, I mean
A: Well, the Post Office job helped… even though I ended up in here. They’re still trying to find out what happened to the proceeds but, let’s say I made a few shrewd investments (Mo taps his nose)… enough to make sure the family can get by without me. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. It’s all about family, ain’t it?
ME: How many children do you have now?
A: Four boys, one girl. The eldest boy is Chuck, then comes Sly and then Arnie. The girl arrived after that, Anji, and finally there is Bruce.
ME: Those names…
A: You figured it out yet? Yeah (Mo smiles) I’m a bit of an action movie buff. Wanted them to have names that might prevent them being pushed around. Chuck was named after Chuck Norris, my personal favourite. Then you have Sly, after Stallone, Arnie is Schwarzenegger and bringing up the rear is Bruce after our old friend Bruce Willis.
A: That was a difficult one, right? Well, I remember seeing this gangster film and Angelica Houston was the female star, so we ‘borrowed’ her name. Nice in’it?
ME: How are the kids doing?
A: They’re great. Chuck looks after them all, he’s a bit of a hard case. I put him through a lot when he was a boy. As my first-born I wanted to make sure he was tough enough to survive on the streets. He turned out all right, thanks to the boxing training I made him take up as a kid. Sly is a bit of a clever so and so… a whizz with computers…
A: (silence)… Look, I think that’s enough for now. I’m feeling a bit bushed. You got plenty to be going on with ain’t you? Guard! (raises voice, the door opens). See our visitor out, would ya?
- To learn more about Arnie, the third Dolan child, read the UK gangland thriller Crossing The Whitewash, Nick Rippington’s debut novel now available on Amazon, Nook, Kobo and iTunes.
Glossary of terms: Blag – robbery; Filth – police; Off his head – crazy.
Thanks to Nick Rippington for sharing us this in depth interview with his protagonist. Nick is one of the participating authors involved with Mystery Thriller Week. He has a second book due to release in 2017. His book Crossing the Whitewash is available in the Book Cellar during MTW. Once released his new book will be available on Amazon and other bookstores.