Colin’s close call in Paddy’s cafe


Over 50 years ago the industry was somewhat different from today.  Fruit machines were operated although illegal in cafes, clubs, greengrocers, in fact anywhere you could get away with. Some of these locations were in not the best areas – one in particular was Paddy’s Café in Graces Alley off Cable street in East London even the local police never went near the place although it was always busy.

Paddy’s had a Jennings Governor one-arm bandit, a very good money earner I remember. One sunny summer’s day having just finished a call in the West End, I rang the office and was told to make my way over to Paddy Café as the fruit machine was out of order.

When I arrived the place was empty, which was unusual. There were just a couple of sinister guys sitting down, I took no notice of them and opened the machine and proceeded to un-jam the escalator. Suddenly a loud voice said, “Drop the jackpot, son,” in a very strong Liverpool accent. Of course, I said “Sorry mate it’s not my money, it’s my boss’,” turning back to the job in hand. With that, a hand spun me round and I found myself looking at what appeared to be a rather large gun pointing straight at my forehead.

“I said DROP THE  JACKPOT, son. Don’t mess me about,”

I don’t know what came over me because I said,

“Do me a favour mate, my boss will give me the sack if I give you the Jackpot!”

From behind the counter a voice said, “Leave him alone Scouse he’s alright and half that money is mine,” The gentleman from Liverpool released me and put this rather big item which I now took to be an imitation pistol back in his pocket. “Thank god that’s over!” I thought

But as I locked the machine and turned to go, the same gentleman put his arm round me and said, “Come and have a drink with me, son,” and despite my protests, steered me to the table, produced a bottle of whisky and proceeded to pour me a large drink and another and another.

I don’t remember the journey home but I made it somehow.

You may think that was the end of this story but about a month later the same gentleman from Liverpool was convicted of the shooting of two men in a club in the East end I often wonder who was looking after me that day in Stepney…

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