The Escaping Club

Alfred John Evans

Date Published :
March 2015
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
No associated books available.


One evening in the long hot summer of 1959, Alfred Gardner was walking home along Commercial Road. Noticing a woman who had collapsed, he ran to a phone box to call an ambulance, only to be beaten to it by an older man. Chance encounters often spark friendships, and this was to be the start of one spanning thirty-seven years. They were an unlikely duo. Gardner, in his late teens, had never journeyed far from Stepney, whereas Upson, in his early thirties, had already had an extraordinary life. For Gardner, the Second World War conjured vague memories of returning from evacuation in Hartlepool in 1944, to a Stepney under threat from Germany's V1 and V2 rockets. Upson, meanwhile, had faced far greater dangers when the Japanese Air Force bombed Rangoon. In 1942, at the age of fifteen (having taken up smoking and drinking to appear older), he had joined Burma's tiny navy. Nearly twenty years later, as they wandered the streets, pubs and clubs of the East End, the lives of these two friends were enriched by a fascinating cast of characters. There were exotics such as Red Boots Danny and the reforming East End cleric Father Joe Williamson, and celebrities like Clint Eastwood, who they used to see enjoying a quiet drink at the Waterman's Arms. And Upson seemed to know everyone. His friend watched, amazed, as men and women, old and young, sprung forward to shake his hand and greet him.

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