Published online: Wednesday, 15 September 2010
This interview was recorded in August 2002. It ran as the 41st “I’ll be Joffed” article in the Galston Community News on 13, July 2010.
We came from Newcastle coalfields and settled in Pennant Hills where we had our own sawmill... “Blissert Mill.” Some of the ecologists would kill me if they knew the beautiful timber we cut in Blue Gum Creek (Amaroo Speedway Annangrove area) We had horses by then. We used our old bullock wagon and 7 horses pulling it. We hauled the Blackbutt and Blue Gum from Blue Gum Creek to our Pennant Hills sawmill... From Round Cnr. to Baileys Cnr. and along Castle Hill Rd to Pennant Hills West. The bullocks became outmoded because of the metal roads... their feet couldn’t stand it and horses were faster. I drove ‘em (bullocks) as a young bloke of 14 and 15 for Walter Alley a bullocky in Bullaroo. Oh I could drive ‘em alright - 14 in a team. But the metal roads buggered the bullocks teams.
Well I could see no future in the sawmills... the depression was heading that way. See the timber strike in 1929 started the depression locally. The coal miners and timber workers were locked out. Well I joined the coppers and I went to the Glebe right at the start of the timber strike 28/29. The razor gangs were very active in Sydney and Melbourne when I joined. They used blade razors. They carved people up. They could really slash ‘em. See a copper then could be a copper. I was known to be a copper. You never walked around a hooligan. You walked straight into em Bang! We had a free hand. Oh yes. If they were real bad ya went out bang and picked him up. If he complained ya went bang again! Simple as that. Effective? Was it ever! I eventually got a QPM (Queens Medal for Distinguished Police Service) and became Chief of the CIB which no longer exists thanks to Neville Wran and a few boneheads. The CIB ran the show - rough justice - it was good, very effective. Gaols were full of people like Chow Hayes. Billy Ollibone. I pinched Clarrie Thomas, a gunman. I locked Lenny McPherson up. All the gangs. You could lock ‘em away. Find ‘em in the wine bars and brothels. It broke ‘em up... buggered ‘em. See they’re all dead. I can say what I like about ‘em. But I’m getting a bit long in the tooth myself. Nifty is still alive so I’ve got to be careful what I say about him. I had a lot to do with Darcey Dugan. I knew him when he was a paper boy in the Glebe and a notorious gaol breaker. Len McPherson led Dugan up to Ray Kelly and others to do jobs. When Graham Thorne was kidnapped (1960) I was a uniform inspector in charge of Paddington and knew Basil Thorne cause I played golf with him and he won 100,000 pounds. The fellow who took the ransom demand was Larry O’Shea. ‘Cause in the meantime the boy died. The man who really solved it with incredible brains and persistence was a detective named Ron Coleman... another coalfields boy (laughter)... I first met Tilly Devine when I was a uniform constable at Regent St. She was one of the first moles to get silk stockings.
Kate (Leigh... Queen of Sly Grog). Of course Kate was an old bitch. She married Shiner Ryan. I knocked on the door at Devonshire St. Surry Hills when she had her Sly Grog shop. Kate said, ‘Yes Blizzard what do you want?’ I said Kate I’d like you to meet detective Bill Neilsen from Perth. She grabbed him and kissed him and said ‘Bill you ol’ bastard how are you?’ I said you know Bill? And she said ‘Oh Blizz. what’s up with you? You know I know all the shit. ‘These are the things I could sit here all night... In my opinion in Australia in my day we were lucky we only had the rubbish. No big Al Capone types. The gunmen and bludgers and urgers and standover men like McPherson used to bludge off the moles and they liked it. SP betting was infested with low class bum crims. There was never anything here like in Chicago. When the Queen came out here I had to send experienced detectives to every country centre she was to visit. You couldn’t take your eye off her. I had many a sleep on the staircase of the Australian Hotel. When the Beatles came I was inspector in charge at Liverpool and they brought me into town to guard their hotel. They always got onto me ‘cause I used to flatten hooligans. The Beatles passed right by me. They had no effect on me. I’m tone deaf and I was 56 (laughter). In life pay the rent, look people in the eye and tell em what you think... and never back away from a hooligan (laughter). It’s alright what ya doing Mick but I wouldn’t say I’m wrapped up in ya head gear, ha ha ha ha!
The Blizzard is most historical for his ten-year role in solving the Pyjama Girl murder mystery and for cleaning-up ‘The Glebe’ with ‘Bumper’ Farrell.
Since the early 1970s, Mick Joffe's passion has been to caricature and record endangered characters of Australia, and the world. As of 2015, the majority of these interviews exist only in manuscript form.