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Authors: Roy Archibald Hall

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BOOK: The Wicked Mr Hall
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There was an old lady who had a room down the
landing from us. We rarely saw her, apart from her odd errands out to the shops. Every day she would have half-a-pint of milk delivered. I was the first to notice the collection of three or four bottles outside her door. I told my mother, and together we tried to raise her by knocking loudly on her door. Worried, my mother contacted the owner of the house who came straight round. After some consultation, it was decided that I should try and enter through her window. My bedroom was in the attic and from my window I could climb along the roof, slip the catch on one of her windows to enter her small flat, which I did. The glass on the windows was caked in grime, the flat was dingy and dark. For a few seconds I had to let my eyes adjust to the half light. When they had, I spotted a shape lying in the corner of the room. I made my way to a doorframe, and felt for a light switch. When I turned it on, I saw that the shape in the corner was the old lady lying dead in her bed.

Back outside on the landing, the owner and my mother discussed what to do. The flat had the smell of death, neither of them wanted to go in. After the old lady’s body had been removed, it was decided that myself and a nurse, who also lived in the building, should search her property and see if we could discover the names and addresses of any relatives. When the nurse returned from her shift at the hospital we both entered and started the search.

The first thing we looked in was a large wooden trunk. As we opened the lid, we saw was what must have been the old woman’s wedding dress. Underneath her memories of happier times, right at the bottom were two
cardboard shoe boxes. Taking the tops off the boxes, we were astonished to find they were crammed full of banknotes. For seconds neither of us spoke. We just stared at the money. It was a fortune! The nurse spoke first: ‘If she has relatives, they don’t deserve to get this. They never bothered to visit her. She lived alone, and died alone.’ I could tell she wanted to keep it. I said: ‘I agree. Why don’t we keep it?’ Again we looked at each other. She nodded and taking a box each, we counted the money – there was one thousand pounds in each one. That was the end of my Red Cross career.

A few days later, the dead woman’s only living relative came to collect her cousin’s belongings. She heard about my rooftop entry, and asked me whether there was anything from the room that I’d particularly like. I’d noticed a red leather-cased travelling clock. She gave it to me. I kept that clock for years, long after I’d spent half of the old dear’s life savings.

At that time in Glasgow, local people were being urged to house General Anders’ army of Polish Freedom Fighters, which was stationed in Scotland. We had a spare room, and my mother agreed to a lodger. The new arrival was a Captain Jackobosky. He was a youngish man of about thirty, smart in appearance, charming and courteous. The rations that he brought into the house made him a welcome guest. I got on well with him, he had style and confidence and we shared a love of culture.

A love of culture would not be the only kind of love we would share.

My mother had put the young captain in the spare
room. He complained to her that he found the bed uncomfortable. My mother suggested that, as I slept in a double, pull-out bed-settee, he could share this with me. It happened on the first night. I was lying in bed with him when I felt his hand on my leg, then between my legs.

I had an instant erection. He told me it could be ‘nice’, and before I knew what was happening he was giving me a ‘blow job’. I never knew that men could do that to one another, but I liked it!

Now I had the best of both worlds.

I found my new friend a charming companion and could listen to his stories for hours. He had come from a privileged background and was well travelled. In his captain’s uniform, with his highly polished knee-length boots, and Slavic good looks, he seemed the epitome of European nobility. Together we would visit good restaurants and museums. In many ways he took over where Anne Philips had left off. My sexual, and cultural, education was taken one step further.

y father wanted me to join the Post Office, but a boring nine-to-five job was not for me. I knew what I wanted. There is an excitement to stealing. The adrenalin flows and I loved the challenge and the thrill. It was an untrammelled outlet for my talents, a natural expression of my nature.

I was comfortable with, and liked, rich people and the good life. I had a lascivious appreciation of jewels and fine antiques. Just holding jewels made my cock hard. I would steal beautiful jewels from rich people. It was a conscious career decision.

I was already financially independent. I contributed towards the upkeep of the home and, when asked exactly how I spent my day, I would be vague: ‘I buy and sell things, always at a profit.’ My father, although not fully convinced, reluctantly accepted this job description. My
mother, I think, guessed the truth, but our bond had always been closer and she would always support me.

The estate agents scam was a good one, and my own idea. Impeccably dressed, including silk gloves and hat, I would approach different offices. I would tell them that my father was serving in India in the Diplomatic Corps, and he was due to return to Scotland soon. Before his
he wanted me to find a suitable house for the family to rent. We were only interested in looking at the finest properties. As far as they were concerned I was a rich man’s son, and they were very eager to please. Immediately they gave me a list of the best houses on their books, and appointments to view were quickly made.

When I went to look at the premises, the usual procedure would be a conducted tour of the house and gardens. I would show interest, the owners would invariably want to sit down over a cup of tea, and talk some more. At this point, I would mention that I would like to return with my aunt and the family solicitor to discuss contracts. A date would have to be arranged. Whichever date they said, I would suggest another. Eventually, they would innocently give me more details – they wouldn’t be in that day because they had appointments or they couldn’t make it on the morning of that day because they had work commitments. I would always get a definite period when I knew the house would be empty. I would already have taken note of the door locks and the type of keys used. I would return at the first possible opportunity, as arrangements can easily be changed. I always acted swiftly. If I got a chance to handle one of the outside door keys I would. These would often
have a number stamped on them and if so, I would have a duplicate made – whichever way it worked, they always got robbed. My method of working remained the same; displace nothing, take only cash, small valuables or jewellery. I kept a sharp eye on local newspapers, sometimes it would be days or weeks before the victims realised they had been robbed. Besides Glasgow I also did the same thing in Edinburgh, making the forty-mile journey by train each morning, just like any other commuter.

On one occasion I was given a guided tour of a large house in the Morningside district of the city. The owner of the house was a middle-aged Jewish woman, obviously extremely wealthy. For the first time in my life I saw a marble sunken bath, I also saw a solitaire diamond ring lying on the dresser in the master bedroom. When the tour was finished we sat down to tea in the dining-room. I had been going through my usual routine about the fictitious aunt and solicitor, but my thoughts were on the diamond ring, it was one of the biggest stones I had ever seen. As the lady of the house listened, I covertly took one of my gloves and put it into my coat pocket, then standing up, declared that I must have dropped a glove somewhere. I pretended to feel through my pockets, but found nothing. Together we started to search the downstairs rooms. I watched her looking, peering hard through her glasses. I made sure that I was closest to the door that led to the hallway and stairs before saying: ‘I know, I must have dropped it upstairs.’ Before she could react I was bounding up the wide staircase and straight into the master bedroom where I put the ring in my pocket. I took
out the missing glove, ran down the stairs holding it aloft, saying ‘It’s alright, I’ve got it’. I quickly said my goodbyes and left. Sitting in the back of a taxi I examined the ring, the stone was the size of a man’s thumbnail. I ordered the taxi driver to drop me off in the city centre, and from there I walked a couple of streets to Hamilton & Ince’s, a high-class jewellers.

I told the salesman that I was engaged to be married, then, taking out the ring that I said belonged to my grandmother, I asked him if he could sell me one that was similar. He told me that he didn’t have one that size in stock, although he could order one for me, but did Sir realize that the cost of such a ring would be close to four thousand pounds. I now knew its value. I wouldn’t sell it in Edinburgh or Glasgow, it could be traced too easily. Going home I packed my suitcase and caught the night train to London.

The next morning I went to Hatton Garden, London’s jewel quarter. There I told another salesman that I’d inherited the ring from my grandmother and now I wished to sell it. He immediately went to get the manager, and together they asked me how much I wanted for it. I asked the manager what he would give me for it. After a pause, he said: ‘One thousand pounds’. I shook my head: ‘No, no, I’ve been told it’s worth much more than that.’ He upped his offer to one thousand two hundred and fifty. I accepted. They wrote me out a banker’s draft, and a letter of introduction to their bank.

Within half an hour I had the money. I booked into a nice hotel and went shopping in London’s famous West
End. I had my first ever Turkish bath in Russell Square, just behind the British Museum. I loved it, it was so peaceful and left me with a feeling of cleanliness I had never known. I always loved to feel clean. I visited Soho, Mayfair and Belgravia. Twelve-hundred-and-fifty pounds was a lot of money in those days. I relaxed and became a tourist, bought my mother some nice gifts from Selfridges and treated myself to a few days of luxury.

I liked London very much. It was the centre of the nation’s wealth, and theatres, museums, art galleries and Turkish baths were in abundance. The money and status were there. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was as well. But for the moment I had presents to deliver. That evening I returned home to Glasgow.

Since starting my estate agent scam I had robbed a lot of well-to-do people. I was sure the police would have put two and two together and must now be looking for me. I decided a change of direction would be wise. An advertisement in a local newspaper provided me with a perfect alternative. The position was that of a trainee receptionist at a four-star hotel in Rothesay. I applied for and got the post. This was the perfect job for me. I watched and learned, the clientele was decidedly middle class and wealthy. I absorbed their behaviour, their collective mannerisms. Anne Philips had been a good tutor, I knew which wines went with which dishes, which cutlery to use on which occasion. I enjoyed life at the Glenburn, I had my own room, and the atmosphere was very convivial. My transformation into the perfect young gentleman was now almost complete.

On a number of occasions I had affairs with older women guests. Maybe I secrete more pheromones than the average man, but, whatever the reason, I have never had a shortage of sexual partners. These guests would invite me up to their rooms, and my sexual experience increased. Before they left the hotel they would almost always give me little gifts, by way of a thank-you. I was the ‘Midnight Cowboy’ thirty years before they made the film of the same name. My stay at the Glenburn was relatively short-lived – once I had learned what I wanted to know, I moved on.

* * *

The war in Europe was still raging. The Americans and Japanese had now joined in, and it became a global conflict. I felt that I, too, should do something. Living back with my parents I applied to join the Merchant Navy. The Merchant was helping to keep the food lines open and their ships were under constant attack from German U boats, which hoped to starve the British into submission. The Training School was near Charing Cross in Glasgow, and that was my next stop. I was keen on the idea of the Navy – the thought of travel excited me, and I would be ‘doing my bit’. I had been there only a week when, for no apparent reason, I was told that I could not continue. No explanation was given. I suspected that it was connected with the incident at Catterick and I had been labelled ‘subversive’. They left me no option, I went back to burglary. If they wouldn’t
give me a suitable job, then I would create my own. I robbed houses all over the city.

I tended to be a bit of a lone wolf socially, and it was around this period when I took to dining at the Central Station Hotel in the evenings. I would normally have a couple of drinks at the bar, then sit down to a nice meal and drinks in the restaurant. One evening while having pre-dinner drinks, I caught the eye of a well-dressed Jewish man in his mid-forties. Walking over to me, he asked me whether I’d like a drink. He looked at me in the same way as Jackoboski had, we drank and chatted for a while. When he asked me my name I told him it was Roy, Roy Fontaine. I didn’t know it then but this name would stay with me for the rest of my adult life. My cultured Jewish friend said that his name was Vic and he was staying in the hotel. He invited me to be his guest at dinner and I accepted, as he interested me. Afterwards we went up to his suite, which was very, very nice. I knew he must be wealthy. We went to bed. Although he was older than me he was sexually submissive. I think we both enjoyed it.

I knew little about Vic Oliver on that first meeting, except we were both bisexual and attracted to each other. True, he would lick my balls, but is that really knowing someone? Subsequently I learned that he was a well-known entertainer, a violinist/comedian with his own radio show.

I attended many parties in the company of Vic. In 1942, ‘gay’ meant joyful abandonment. The parties we attended weren’t given any title, but were almost exclusively male. I
remember one in particular, which was held in Ivor Novello’s luxury flat overlooking Piccadilly Circus. The flat was huge – polished wooden floors, scattered rugs, and in one corner a white grand piano.

Good-looking young men acted as waiters. The more mature men were the cream of London society. They would undress the serving boys with their eyes, and the serving boys would linger and coyly reciprocate. It was understood that for gifts and ‘tips’, the young waiters would give ‘favours’ to the celebrated guests.

Crotches and bottoms would be fondled openly. These were beautifully decadent occasions. Everybody present was safe in the knowledge that discretion was of paramount importance. If these people were ‘outed’, their careers would be ruined. But, then again, these were powerful people.

Vic would point out ‘who’s who’ to me. Among the guests were Lord Louis Mountbatten, the writer Beverly Baxter and the playwright Terence Rattigan. As ‘connections’ were made, you would see couples drift off. Getting into the toilets could be a lengthy business. You would hear bouncing bedsprings behind the locked bedroom doors as you waited in the hallway. Novello was a broadminded host. People like this needed somewhere safe. With the glittering lights of the West End blacked out beneath them, the rich and famous buggered their beautiful young men.

Terence Rattigan took quite an interest in me, and I in him. He was a very handsome, very charming and talented man. While Rattigan chatted me up, Ivor Novello gave an
impromptu performance on his white grand piano. I was part of a private audience being entertained by a showbusiness legend. My preference was definitely for men. Sparkling conversation, the smell of male sex, successful, powerful people – I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Archie Hall, the working-class boy from Glasgow, belonged in the past. Not one person in that room knew a thing about my previous life. I had turned the corner. I was in the most elevated company possible, and I was accepted as a well-bred young gentleman. Not only did they accept me, the famous playwright opposite wanted to make love to me. This was the
crème de la crème
! And I was Roy Fontaine.

A few years later my male lover, Vic Oliver, became the son-in-law of the great Winston Churchill. What the great man would have thought of his son-in-law if he had known of his propensity for loitering around gents’ toilets, I dread to think.

BOOK: The Wicked Mr Hall
9.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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