Glasgow Eyes Magazine
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Jason & Joe In Three Parts
After the untimely death of his youngest brother, Jason Allday embarked on a journey to have his brothers name remembered by not only anyone wishing to read on a families loss and unjustified young boys life being taken, but also, to find some of the UK’s most talked and read about names and iconic figures coming together and invest in having a working class London lads name remembered.
Jason Allday… Junior & Lessons Volumes 1 & 2
Joe: I read Junior, thought it was a brilliant book, a heavy volume of a book, and I understand where it is coming from, the back-story with your late brother, so to open – what was the inspiration to start the book?
Jason: It’s interesting that you use the word inspiration; to me it was initially desperation. When I first got word of my brother passing, and I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I felt more aggression and hate fill me more than any level of sadness. I am not one of those emotional types, and that all stems from my upbringing. My dad, who I love dear, well I never really had a relationship with him. I don’t want to use the term cold, but I couldn’t tell you what were his favourite things in life. He was institutionalised from a young age. I don’t doubt he cared and would deal with anyone out of my ‘range’ when it came to protecting me, but there was never any ‘closeness’. My parents divorced when I was eleven. I was raised in a very stereotypical council estate. Back then to be sent to a grammar school with a single parent in the early 80s, it wasn’t that common. So I soon understood about differences. And when I heard the news about Junior, I didn’t deal with it emotionally; I dealt with it in a way that I felt befitting.
Joe: Can you elaborate on why you dealt with how you felt with aggression?
Jason: Living as I do now in Florida, you don’t get away when you step out of line, everything here is nice and fluffy, there’s no conflict or competition, here that level of thinking isn’t necessary or warranted and so when I came back to England I went off the rails. My brother had passed away and I was looking for trouble wherever I went, blaming people for my brother’s death. I thought it was all a necessary level of aggression. An every day event. One of my pals, a very close mate at West Ham said, ‘Jase, we will always support you in whatever decision you make.’ Because I was ultimately blaming the police. I saw them as the number one bullies and responsible for Junior being taken. And my brother got harassed. Growing up on our estate, he was one of the few mixed race kids, but my brother wasn’t shy. He wouldn’t tolerate any level of shit from anyone and he saw the police as the ultimate bullies. When he died, whether right or wrong, I saw them as being solely responsible. And I was getting into situations, in most cases I promoted and encouraged them, on every level and I knew all this was going to get me into trouble very quickly, I really didn’t care for most of the negatives I was creating and being involved in. Add to that, I have a very tight circle of friends and some of them are very well known. I knew I was going to come unstuck very quickly. So one of my friends saw this and said how I had to consider one thing, one fact. How my mum’s going to end up burying two sons not just one. Because the fact was, I couldn’t fight the biggest gang in the world. That completely stopped me in my tracks. Then I became even more frustrated as I was back to square one. What I thought would be a way of dealing with the situation, was now not an option. I had those who I definitely blamed and had to back off, so how do I deal with that? And then he said to me how I should do some writing, as there are so many books out there that are made up, absolute bollocks. And I thought about those who’d not only lost one, a brother or a mate, but lost twenty mates through extreme levels of violence. And I began to think who would know how to deal with all this? So the next thing I know, I am having various conversations and getting calls, people who said that they were happy to have a chat and that I could put them in a book. And that’s what happened. I started to talk to people happy to be involved in the book and what’s funny is, because you’ve got a big publishing house Random House interested, well they had concerns regarding libel and credibility, and how I had to get those involved signed up on these chapters. I am talking about people who wouldn’t even take a phone call from someone they didn’t know let alone signing their name. It was all done in an old school way – that their words wouldn’t misrepresent them – and all the work I did was all concluded on a handshake. You can’t really tell a publisher, well it’s all okay, I shook his hand and gave my word I wouldn’t change a word. But this isn’t acceptable in the big mainstream business world of publishing. Two different worlds; corporate and villains don’t share either the same playing field or rules of play.
Joe: There’s not much acceptable in the mainstream. They run a very select tight ship so you did well getting it published.
Jason: It was hard but the book all happened and I met with various people that trusted me, who told me how they had lost many close friends. Society is a means and an end and not everyone is going to be on the same wavelength, or even begin to understand what you are going through. My responsibility soon became to accept my situation, not necessarily agree with it, but to get everything in book form. To find closure. And what I gained out of writing Junior was the fact that my brother’s name will always be remembered. Although back then, I nearly got nicked. My brother got in a massive argument with the police when they came round to arrest him, and while I do not one hundred per cent view them in a negative way; they are a necessary part of society. As I’ve always said, you don’t cut down an orchard because of a few bad apples. It is a hard industry to work in, as a first responder – the police. Some people may frown upon me saying that, but if you were completely to remove that service, I think society would be in a much worse place. Remember I’ve seen and been around people who operate on a different level. I’ve got a very close mate whose dad was a proper villain, as much integrity as arsehole to do any bit of work, he really worked the pavement. He was killed by the armed response unit of the police, shot in the back. I’ve a good few pals that’ve been and experienced the dark side of police brutality. I’m not just talking about the clip around the ear or getting your ill earned gains taxed and you being sent on your way, I’m talking a level of police corruption and brutality that installs real hate towards the system. There was already enough justification and reasoning for me to seek retribution for those within my trusted circle, but I had to think on a level I live in more than the circles I move in when I’m home – the everyday working class. But, back to my point, there was this one complete fucking tool of a CID piece of shit involved when they went to arrest my brother, and while it was all kicking off, I was in this CID officers face and I got threatened with being handcuffed and thrown in the back of the van as well, and this I’ll never forget, he said this to me: ‘I’m going to have more written on your brother than there’s been written on Shakespeare.’ And I ended up with this one continuous thought, to put all my effort and energy into writing – so that Junior’s name would always be remembered. The age-old adage, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Thinking back to conflicts I had at grammar school, I was trying to side and relate to the upper crust of the academic body within the school. I was from a council estate, shit, worn clothes, single parent family and not of the same ilk; they were of a much healthier upbringing. Initially I saw them as a means and a way of improving my standing. They wanted nothing to do with me, so if I couldn’t be in their club, I’d simply make sure they got my attention. One thing I remember my grammar school headmaster said to me after one of many canings, ‘Son, you’ve got to learn to beat people at their own game.’ So, if I can’t be in that circle of elites, I’ll use the tools of the trade, their tools and their trade – more brains less muscle.
Joe: I definitely think you made the right decision there.
Jason: Well you see, I have a dual nationality and the largest library in the World is the Congress Library and Junior’s name is in that library, my book is in that library and his name will be remembered forever. So for the CID officer to say what he did, well I have got more written on Junior than he ever did with his reports. But to this day I am ridiculed with guilt. Because the only time I said, ‘I love you,’ was when Junior was in his coffin.
Joe: Can you elaborate on how the book came about and how you got so many people from all walks to engage with you in its development?
Jason: Well, I suppose much credit has to go to a few trusted friends; Danny Woollard (RIP) and a close pal, Steve Guy. This isn’t to take anything away from all those that helped or contributed, but Steve and Danny were always on par and knew where things needed to go and who would give a platform that made the book make sense. Both are very close mates and in some respects acted as mentors right from the very beginning of Junior. On one occasion, Steve said he knew many who had been through a similar situation, including Carlton Leach; obviously on a larger scale than myself. The next thing I know Carlton makes contact and I basically just recounted my frustration to him. Both Steve and Carlton clearly understood the position I was in and it was clear to me no matter how low you are on the totem pole we are all equally impacted by experiences the same way; some more than others. I lost my brother but here we are talking about people here who have lost five, ten, twenty friends and they have got no other option than to swallow that pain and just keep on going. I had a good few conversations with Carlton and he was very impressionable and put a perspective on my situation. I also then had conversations with other people who had backgrounds of extreme levels of violence, and among them I had a very close friend, Danny Woollard, who as much as Carlton, I listened to a great deal. He gave a great understanding in how to deal with violence in a person’s life. But when I say violence in a person’s life, I don’t mean Junior was a necessary violent person, but when a life is taken there is no greater loss. And Steve Guy, Carlton Leach and Danny Woollard are people I would trust without question. And that was basically the start of where I was in pursuing a level of understanding with the loss of my brother.
Joe: You mention Danny Woollard, and I remember something he said in the documentary film, The End. Something Ronnie Kray said to him. ‘Always look at the other person’s point of view.’ He said in the film Ronnie taught him all about empathy and I have always believed that empathy is important.
Jason: Danny had a very close relationship with Ronnie and Reggie, and that point about empathy works for some people, but to me, apathy will always equally be there. It helps me to pursue further goals. Not necessarily in a negative and aggressive way, but aggression can be a fuel in continuing with writing. With Junior, I had a lot of contributors who didn’t want their names mentioned – they are very guarded people – but they have experiences of losing a lot of close friends and hearing their stories was very humbling. Losing my brother is something I will never get over, but when you put it into perspective, they have experienced far worse than I have and I do think they have become numb to it. But one of the most interesting conversations I had was with one of my friends – and whether he is still active or not is irrelevant – but a dangerous man by all accounts, and what he said to me was: ‘You can do something I could never do.’ It racked my brains when he said that, I mean this man was a heavily respected east London villain; bad to the bone, fearless and by societies standards very dangerous! What did it mean? And so I asked him: ‘What is it I can do that you can’t?’ And he replied, ‘You can pick up your son and tell him you love him.’ And I knew straight away he doesn’t understand where that word comes from, that relationship ability and by all accounts his feelings have been numbed and removed from his making.
Joe: I suppose we are all born out of circumstance. If no one ever showed you love, said they loved you, then you don’t know what love means, how to reciprocate that to someone else.
Jason: As much as you can be a product of your circumstance, even if you become involved in very violent activities, you can still be a decent person. I’ve often thought about the trust and relationship I have with the broad range I have, many are known and equally respected for their standing in the criminal fraternity. I’m bottom of the totem pole, a Monday to Friday grafting lad; many of my friends are villains and money getters, but they all find time for me, always turn up and always answer my call. My point is they gain nothing in return other than my trust and friendship, there’s no monetary gain from any conversation or gathering with me, simply proper people willing to give up their time and energy. Says a lot about a group of people that are willing to do anything for someone and expect or look for nothing in return. Old school by any level or standard. They are top of my tree, way up there. Mainstream, as I call it, your everyday people, would right fully seriously question if they are or not a decent person. Never a question in my book! The most interesting thing about human nature is that the brain is complex and I think that it’s a shame when it’s said, people are set in their ways. A pal who’s done 20 years hard time, calls me often to have a conversation and make fun of the country I now live in; he thinks it’s just fucking bizarre I’m allowed to walk about with a concealed firearm. ‘Your off your rocker, son,’ he says with a chuckle! This is a man that to this day carries something 24/7. Yet, again he finds time religiously for me. Thinking back I find humour and value in all my conversations with my pals.
Joe: I’ve done a great many interviews where I just put myself out there and it happened, and in your book, there aren’t just those involved in the world of villainy, but so many others – the likes of Frank McAvennie, Irvine Welsh, Garry Bushell. The latter being the best part of the book for me.
Jason: Initially my intention was to include some very high end, I suppose you could call them, celebrities. And in the world of villainy they offer a very high level of protection for certain icons. So it became very easy to get in contact with certain people through those I knew. And word got out but I have got to say that about ninety per cent of these so called tough guy actors wouldn’t give me the time of day. Was I looking for any monetary gain? No. I was just looking for five, ten minutes of their time. I was happy at a moments notice to meet them at any location they named. But I got given every excuse you can imagine. I’m talking about actors who had my brother as their biggest fan. And I found it all very disheartening and some what insulting, as they give it the big one and spin a story in mainstream interviews, ‘We’ll always remember our roots and where we come from’, except when that same neighbourhood and working class background knocks on their doors – fuck them; plastic card board cut outs as far as I’m concerned. And then one of my West ham pals said why don’t you give Frank McAvennie a call. And I made contact and he couldn’t do enough to help. At the time he was living in Newcastle yet he was the one prepared to get to meet me by any means. I had to tell him that I would get to him wherever he wanted to meet up. And he’d just had surgery on his knee and I said let’s meet up another time. But he wasn’t having it. And that is the testament about who Frank is. A very welcoming, accommodating person who never forgot his roots.
Joe: I can second that. I did an interview with him in an issue of my West Ham fanzine, which like all the interviews for the mag was great fun, and even after it was published I got a text back from Frank saying basically he’s there to help out in anyway if I need him again. A wonderful man. Love him to bits.
Jason: That’s him all over. I’ve maintained a good relationship with Frank, and one key word came up from him – anytime. One time when I was over up north of the border, in Glasgow seeing some old pals, Frank said ‘give me a call,’ and when I got off the plane he was in contact saying he’d meet me wherever I wanted the meet. And I was going to a certain location to meet some people, and an hour later he was there. I have always had this belief: if you maintain a friendship with a true Scotsman, you have a friend for life. People like Frank encapsulate what being a true friend is all about. And another good guy who was involved, and could never do enough to help, was Joe Egan. He called me back recently, and I said to him, ‘Sounds a bit busy where you are.’ And he replies, ‘I’m on a film set.’ So I goes, ‘Ever so sorry to interrupt you mate, I’ll call you another day.’ He then says, ‘No, you left me a message and I’m calling you back.’ I’m not a religious person, but if God put a man on this planet then Joe Egan is that man. I was in Birmingham and beforehand he was telling me, make sure you call me. So I gave him a call, we went out for breakfast, and his mum’s then on the phone. Before he even had a conversation with his own mother he says to her, ‘Please have some words with my friend, Jason.’ The way I saw it, he didn’t want me to miss out on an opportunity to speak with a member of his family. Very humbling and he was the one who made the effort to see me. Anyone who says a bad thing about him is either lying or they don’t know him. Life has been a little unfair with Joe; it’d make me feel as if life had me at one step forward, two steps back with the challenges he’s had thrown his way, but he always comes out swinging, no matter what life has thrown at him. He’s a fighter and truly a heavyweight champion in my opinion. And there’s a reason certain people respect him – life hasn’t been fair to him but he comes back every time with that winning mentality.
Joe: How long did it take to get those conversations and contributions running and to fall into place?
Jason: The first two years were very difficult, and I have said it already, I was riddled with guilt, left everything too late. I’d start and then stop. I was questioning why I was even doing the book in the first place. And it was only because the people in the book, who had very busy lives, like Garry Bushell, invested their own time and energy. Garry Bushell is a walking bookcase of information. Music at the end of the day, is a unifying medium. And I thought the best person to speak about music would be Garry Bushell. Cockney Rejects, obviously, and a West Ham element said that I had to involve Garry. And I did. And he is switched on 24/7 and put in a lot of work to create his piece.
Joe: I think I’ve already mentioned along the lines that it’s the jewel in the crown in the book.
Jason: And the thing is, I’d never met the bloke. But if you are doing something for the right reason, and he got word from my friends what I was trying to achieve, well he couldn’t have done more to help.
Joe: Taking the emotional side out of the picture regarding the purpose of the book, it must have been an exciting time when it was all coming together, the finishing line in sight. Because it is a very big book. And the early stages are obviously the hardest, no light in the tunnel. But as all the jigsaw pieces start to form the picture, it must have been exciting.
Jason: One of the rules that was put down to me, and I intentionally use the word rules, is when you are representing other people, you are also building a platform for those people. There’s a lot of responsibility to represent them all honestly. I was told all along how it can’t be dogshit. When it all started to fall into place, and I honestly believe this, you will always be successful in something you enjoy doing. And it gave me closure. Which was why I started the book. But the best achievement in it all, was this: because as much as Junior was a fan of them, while doing the book, they became a fan of him.