You could not call the Thompsons serious gangsters, at least not in their hearing. The Thompsons are a sprawling family, with aunts, uncles and cousins popping up all over the estate. The undisputed head of the family is Papa Glen Thompson, following closely by his twin granddaughters, Briana and Lauren. If you’re buying drugs on the Redriff estate, then somehow, in some way, Papa Glen is seeing a cut.
Glen moved in with his parents in early 70s, and by the early 80s, he’d set up a reliable network of contacts throughought the estate. He’s never been one of London’s big fish, and he’s never wanted to be – he’s got his patch, and he’s very happy with it, and he’s seen off all comers, with, rumour has it, some spectacularly bloody violence when required.
But Papa’s getting on a bit now, and Lauren and Briana are making no secret of the fact that they have bigger ambitions for the family. What happens when they’re in charge, and what it might mean for the estate remains to be seen.
The Coopers have been local industrialists since before the Estate existed. Historically, they owned the Cooper Factory and operated a haulage network that employed quite a number of people in the area. These days, the factory has closed, but the haulage firm still exists, although it’s less relevant as an employer on the estate specifically. Today the Coopers are active in local politics in a variety of capacities, and the various branches of the family have a series of long-running feuds with one another, as one branch works with the Committee on one project while another works with the Association to lobby against it, and so on.
Jack Cooper is the local (Labour) MP, and generally does his best to hold himself apart from his families well-known propensity for feuding in order to ensure that he can actually focus on the work his constituents need him to do. He’s broadly considered to be “not too bad, for a politician”, by those people on the estate who’ve needed him to do anything.
The Stones aren’t a numerous family compared to most of the others on the estate, but they’re easy to spot, with their strange mismatched eyes, heterochromia being a strange quirk of family genetics that seems to breed true, and lends them an otherworldly air.
Cal Stone is the current landlord at the Europa, while his brother Michael runs a laundrette – family members pop up all over the estate, usually running small businesses like plumbers or corner shops or working a variety of cash in hand (but otherwise legitimate) jobs. Once or twice a year, they have a big family gathering in the Europa (which closes to non-family members for the day), and on those days, residents say the estate feels oddly shut – despite the fact that they only operate maybe a dozen businesses between them, if feels like on the days they’re all shut, there’s almost no-one on the estate that doesn’t need at least one of them.
There’s very little point in pretending that the O’Malley’s aren’t gangsters, but that are at least Redriff’s gangsters. They run a variety of criminal activities across the estate – illegal fights, gambling, protection rackets and smuggled goods all form part of the family trade, and individual family members can be found connected with criminal enterprises across London. The O’Malley family and the Thompsons seem to have come to a mutually acceptable compromise regarding the drugs trade on the estate, this being one of the few criminal activities members of the family don’t seem to indulge in.
The family’s overall attitude reflects that of their unnopposed matriarch, Lyra O’Malley – me against my sister, my sister and I against our neighbour, us and our neighbour against the world. The general consensus is that if you live on the Redriff Estate, and don’t cross the O’Malleys (and pay up when they demand it) then they could be much worse, and their presence on the estate probably keeps worse people away.
The police for their part, seem to be happy enough to arrest members of the family when they do something particularly violent or stupid, and to periodically remind them where the line might be, without pushing things too far, perhaps for the same reasons as the rest of the residents.