Razor: A true story of slashers, gangsters, prostitutes and sly grog
Pan Macmillan, $30 pb, 336 pp
The only organised crime boss I ever knew was Perce Galea, in the mid1970s. He owned illegal casinos and raced thoroughbreds. ‘Colourful racing identity’, the polite broadsheets called him. My dad raced horses too and would go to Randwick at dawn to watch them work. I’d tag along on Saturdays and there Perce would be – Windsor-knotted tie, brown cashmere long-coat, and porkpie hat – straight from his gambling dens without having gone to bed. That impressed me. Every second word he used was ‘fuck’, and no one stopped him. That impressed me too. ‘He never swears in front of women,’ my mother would say. She called him a ‘thorough gentleman’. I liked standing next to him. I told everyone at school that I knew a crime boss. Perce told me to ‘piss off’ with a wink once, so he could talk business. When I didn’t, he gave me $5 and said ‘Scram’. You must have heard of Perce. He’s famous for having thrown a fistful of bills into the crowd when his horse Eskimo Prince won the Golden Slipper in 1964. He was a natural PR man for the vice trade.