South London, 1969. Source: Ken-Zan on Flickr.
Steve at Beers I’ve Known is hosting the Session this month and says: ‘I want to hear your beery tall tales, yarns, recollections (in a Grandpa Simpson stylee) or otherwise, delivered in the manner that you befits sitting around a log fire, favourite beer in hand.’
One of our friends — let’s call him Aidan – told us the best story we’ve ever heard in a pub.
Aidan was born in Dublin but brought up in South London, and spent his childhood playing in the post-Blitz rubble. He seems to know everyone in every pub from Battersea to Southwark, and most of the black cab drivers, too.
He used to be a mod/suedehead/skinhead, though he’s also an extremely tolerant lefty with no time for fascists, and still wears a button-down shirt and bovver boots.
He’s softly spoken, but if someone starts causing trouble in the pub, with a cold stare and a couple of whispered words, he can shut them up and have them backing contritely out of the door.
He’s a geezer, in short.
He doesn’t talk about himself much but, one day, when we were having a few pints with him in a place near Victoria Station, there was a lull in the conversation, and he decided to fill the gap.
One evening in the late sixties or early seventies, he told us, he and a few of his mates decided to go to an underground nightclub in Waterloo. Everything was going well — lots of beer, lots of dancing, lovely girls — but then, something went wrong. They chatted up the wrong bloke’s girlfriend or stood on the wrong person’s toes — who knows?
Anyway, before they knew it, there they were being pursued through the dark streets of late-night Lambeth by a gang of lads who wanted to kill them. Knives were out.
This is the punchline of his tale:
Luckily, someone who knew us saw us being chased on the other side of the road and he got on the blower… Have you heard of the Richardsons? Back then, you were sort of ‘affiliated’ with either them or the Krays. Anyway, suddenly, this Jag pulls up, squealing tires and all that, and a couple of blokes with shooters jump out… they bundle us all in… and we’re away…
He calmly polished off his bottle of Budvar while we sat open-mouthed. Fortunately, another nearby drinker stepped in to give the only acceptable response: ‘That’s nothing! I remember when I was in Moscow once…’
Bonus feature: we wrote about Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart, an anthology of science-fictional pub yarns, on Facebook.