After a big break from fiction and serials, I used some old notes to write a twenty-part serial based on the advice, “Write what you know”.
As I hinted at many times, this was actually about me, and a period in my life from late 1974 until the spring of 1976. The driver ‘Paul’ was me, and the events in the serial all happened, with some minor differences. Some of the names were changed, but all the ‘characters’ were real people, many of whom are still alive. The car shown in the photo ahead of every episode is indentical to the one I drove as a taxi during that time.
I am using this epilogue to explain some name and plot changes, also to let readers know about some of the places and people mentioned during the serial.
The Simon The Tanner still trades as a pub. The area underwent a lot of ‘gentrification’ in the 1990s, and it now stands opposite a trendy hotel built on the site of a former antiques market.
The Ancient Foresters is still there too. During the period covered in the story, it was associated with local gangsters.
The Southwark Park Tavern. I am unsure if this is still trading. At that time it was a very popular place to drink.
The Lilliput Hall. Once owned by my great-uncle, it was later converted into apartments. The facade was retained.
The Ship, Stepney Green. This was closed for a long time, then renamed ‘The Ship On The Green’.
The Fox and Anchor, Clerkenwell. This pub still trades, and also offers accommodation in upstairs rooms.
Nicky was/is a real character. Most people called him ‘Nick The Greek’. He was hoping for a career as a DJ, playing records in pubs. He lived in South London with his wife and children, though she was/is not called Patsy and they did not live in Thamesmead. I never found out whether or not he resurfaced after his ‘disappearance’. For all I know, he might still be alive and kicking. The part in the story where I take Patsy and her friend Shell shoplifting is fiction. But the fact that some of them did that is not.
Mickey and Pat Shaughnessy are ‘based-on’ real people who were exactly as they are described in the story. But their surname was not Shaughnessy. I did ‘look after’ a handgun for Nicky, but he collected it. The part where I take it to Mickey is fiction, though having to drive him and his brother around is true. I was used as a reluctant lookout during a warehouse break-in, but it was not televisions that were stolen. I also gave an alibi statement to a police detective like the one described. But he was not called Inspector Bromley. I also took them with the frightened man to the dockside in Deptford. Pat went missing at the time mentioned in the story, and I don’t know if he was ever found.
Teddy Kennedy is an invented name, close to the real name of that person. The incident where I take him to collect a debt from the man who runs off did happen.
Little Legs was a real person. An ‘enforcer’, and a hard-man gangster, despite his size. He did get the information from Toby, and steal his wallet and car, but I was not there when that happened. So that episode was fiction. Many years later, Little Legs was shot and killed in a room in his own house. It was reported as a ‘gangland killing’, as he was suspected of being an informer.
Toby is an invented name. There was a posh young man who lied to me, and was seen around with Nicky. But as he is almost certainly still alive, I did not use the real name.
Freddie Foreman is a real person, and one of the best-known figures in London crime history. He is still alive, and lives in a care home. His son Jamie became an actor. He is still acting, and well-known for playing criminals and villainous roles. He was also in a long-running soap opera on the BBC.
Tony and Billy were pub landlords in those respective pubs. After 1976, I have no idea what happened to them.
Vincent Lombardo is an invented name. He is based on a real Italian/Sicilian gangster who controlled that area for many years and had connections to the Gambino Mafia family in America. I chose not to use the real name. The man I spoke to in the pub that night was almost certainly not him. Vincent was far too important to have been sitting in a pub dealing with ‘messages’. So the grey-haired man was probably one of his minions, and dealt with what he saw might be a problem by giving me cash that was small change to him. There is a good chance he really had no idea who Nicky was.
Being ‘just the driver’ was still very stressful, given the personalities of those involved. However, I was not actually involved as much as it might seem from reading about the events. Using cabs was common, as the police were generally only aware of the cars actually owned by the criminals, and would not be looking out for random cars used as cabs.
The final part about buying the shop and moving away is true, and has been written about on my blog previously. The ‘girlfriend’ mentioned became my first wife, in 1977. She knew nothing at all about the events mentioned in the serial. And even after we split up in 1985, I never told her anything about them.
This reurn to fiction was enjoyable for me. I appreciate everyone who followed the story, read every part, and shared on social media. So far, each episode has received around 75 views, and considering I had that break from fiction, I appreciate that. So, around 1,500 views, and a good amount of engagement and comments too. Tomorrow, I will publish all 20 parts, and this epilogue, as one complete story.