For a long time he was simply ignored, but one evening a thief who was being pursued by the police thrust a piece of jewellery into his hand with the words, “Hold that for me, mate!” Quite probably he had mistaken Edwin for someone else in the gloom. The police arrived shortly afterwards and questioned everyone on the premises, but Edwin, with his respectable appearance and accent, was allowed to leave without being searched.
He felt immensely proud of his coolness under pressure. A few days later he was approached by two threatening-looking men in dark suits who hustled him into a car and demanded that he handed over the stolen item to them. For a wild moment he considered answering them with snarling defiance, but common sense prevailed. Managing to show no trace of the gnawing fear he felt inside, Edwin answered them respectfully and politely, complied with their wishes without protest, and indicated that he was willing to undertake any similar work in the future. Feeling, probably correctly, that his real name of Edwin Prosserly, was nowhere near hard enough for a would-be gangster, he told them that he was called Ed Punch. His self-regard increased greatly in consequence.
Before long he was approached again. Edwin sensed that he was being tested, with increasingly important tasks. He was asked to dispose of a pistol, which he duly chucked into the Thames near Windsor early one Sunday morning. Was it, he wondered with a thrill of vicarious danger, a murder weapon? For this task he was rewarded with a considerable amount of money in old banknotes. He decided to devote himself to this new, exciting and potentially lucrative life; and he dropped out of college.
He rented a flat in Old Compton Street, where shortly afterwards he was required to play host to Tony, a young man he had never met before. Edwin felt very uneasy in Tony’s presence, and took great care not to annoy him, for the young man showed every sign of being a psychopath. He was most relieved when after a couple of weeks Tony disappeared and was not seen again.
Other tasks followed over subsequent months. He drove getaway cars and later disposed of them, he kept account-books for semi-literate criminals, and occasionally vacated his flat when it was required for other purposes by persons unknown. He was well paid for his work, but the tension was beginning to take its toll. He could sense that, although the mobsters occasionally found him useful, he wasn’t really one of them and never would be: he was just a middle-class kid who thought it was cool to hang around with gangsters, and that they might cast him off or betray him at any moment, without a second thought. And did he really want to spend the rest of his life in company with men like Tony?
Then one day the police conducted a swoop and arrested the entire gang. They were all interrogated separately, on a charge of involvement in a murder. It should surprise no-one that Edwin was the first to crack and turn Queen’s Evidence in return for immunity from prosecution.
He is believed to be living in South Africa under an assumed name. It is safe to assume that he never admits to ever having been called Ed Punch. .