Mafia princess

August 5th, 2010 Books & Publishing, Ralph

Is life in the Mafia anything like it is in film and TV?

Pretty much, yeah. It’s all about business. It’s that simple.

When did you realise you weren’t a normal girl in a normal family?

When I was old enough to realise my father was gone for long periods at a time. He was either hiding out or escaping prison.

What’s the most dangerous situation you found yourself in?

Actually it was while I was in prison in the UK. When you’re outside there’s a way out. My family protected me. On the outside the most dangerous time was when I got married but I didn’t even realise. I found out later there were rivals waiting to shoot up the wedding to get my father, but at the time I felt so protected and didn’t even know about it.

Some of the people you talk about are still alive. Are you afraid for your or your kids’ safety?

No, everything I wrote about anybody else has since been documented at trials or wherever. But it is the first time I’ve come clean about everything I’ve done. Even my own mother started reading it and said ‘you didn’t do that?’ She put it down and didn’t start reading again for quite awhile. But as far as everything else, I haven’t said anything that hasn’t already been made public.

What made you want to tell your story now?

I’ve been approached to write it a few times over the last twelve years and it just didn’t feel right, but every few years I read stories about me and members of the family in the papers which I couldn’t control or have a say in. They’d link me to people I’d never met in my life. I got sick of it and said to myself ‘you know, you’ve done bad, now you have to make good’.

You speak very fondly of your Dad and your Nan in the book. Is it hard to remember them as good people, knowing the things they did?

It’s not hard at all. They’ve done wrong and they’ve paid for it a lot. It’s the family I grew up with and so did they. From generations back none of them had any schooling or career, they just learned to steal to eat. It was a survival thing, and afterwards it turns into greed and the drive to have more and more. If you look at any walk of life people seek power and wealth. It doesn’t mean to say they’re not caring and generous with their family.

How does it feel when you look at the picture of yourself aged 11 holding a doll and a loaded gun?

That picture was taken so innocently and now it just makes me feel a bit sad. My mum took that picture but she didn’t know the gun was real.

How different is organised crime today from the mafia you grew up in?

They’re more ruthless, there’s not a lot of honour. Back then there were strict codes about not hurting children or the elderly. Now there’s just no respect for anybody, not like there used to be. That sounds funny to hear because we’re still talking about criminals, aren’t we?

Do you miss the money and privilege?

No. It’s nice to have it but I miss my family. Even though sometimes you can be like cats and dogs and not get on, nobody could touch any of us. If I miss anything it’s having that feeling of belonging. It was never really about the money or the privilege for me. Of course it’s nice to have but it bought so much heartache I’d rather not have had it.

Do you miss the respect?

It’s so easy nowadays, isn’t it, to disrespect somebody or get road rage or whatever? There’s a part of me from my past that comes up when that happens. If someone treats me disrespectfully and I get mad I just think ‘if you’d done that 20 years ago you just never would have got away with it, you know…’

But whether it was karma or whatever, even back then I never said anything to my father or my family because I knew the consequences of what would happen to someone else if I complained about them.

You must have been to some legendary parties. What’s the best one you remember?

There was one New Year’s Eve party that was really posh with a lot of really rich people there. But I was very young and had to go up to my room with my nanny.

The best party was actually in 1991. We’d all gone to the seaside and at midnight we got a call that my father had arrived safely in Spain after escaping from prison. The people involved with his escape were all there and we popped champagne at midnight and had a really great time celebrating his escape. It’s not really something to celebrate now I look back but he was free, he was safe.

That’s a nicer memory than all the ski resort and expensive hotel parties?

Yeah. It was always a family environment so it’s not like the movies with powerful mafia dons surrounded by all these women at big flash parties. My father and some of my uncles would have had parties like that but we never really got to see them.

Hollywood’s always interested in Mafia stories. Would you like to see a movie made about your life?

I think it would be quite interesting. I’ve had offers and I’ve actually been talking to someone about it so it’s in the pipelines.

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