Roy Short, 50, and John Brophy, 54, are Birmingham’s foremost Peaky Blinder impersonators. What does exactly does that entail? We asked them just that – and they taught us a whole lot more.
The real Peaky Blinders were a gang that actually existed.
Roy: ‘They ruled Digbeth and Bordesley Green from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, and did a lot of gambling and fighting. Some were locked up in Steelhouse Lane police cells.’
They got the name because they sewed razor blades into the peaks of their caps.
John: ‘And so do we. They are metal and they do show, but they’re just props. They’re not sharp. We have guns as well, but they’re not real. We sometimes take fake rifles and handguns to events, just for effect.’
You have to shop around for authentic Peaky Blinders clobber.
Roy: ‘Our attire consists of a three-piece suit, cropped trousers, workmen’s boots, a long black coat, pocket watch and chain and, of course, the trademark cap.’
John: ‘We search vintage and charity shops and the internet. We even go to car boot sales, where you can pick up knuckledusters and guns – obviously, they’re all decommissioned and antique. A lot of people sell country and western stuff so you can get shoulder holsters and things like that.’
You’d better prepare for a lot of attention.
Roy: ‘We have a lot of blokes asking for photos. Once one flash goes off people start queuing up. They buy us drinks. We have bus and taxi drivers putting their thumbs up. Old ladies in bus stops say we remind them of their husbands or fathers. We’ve never had any trouble. When you put the clothes on you feel different, you look different and people just love you for it.’