Eddie’s time as landlord at Stratford’s Two Puddings
Wines are not the only things that improve with age. The recounting of memories, it seems, also benefits from the passage of time.
Eddie Johnson, landlord of the Two Puddings in Stratford from 1962 until 2000 has published a book, suitably entitled Tales From The Two Puddings that cherry picks at the best of those times.
His language in the book is, he admits, a product of the time although he appears to have decluttered it of slang.
Although he has retired to a Long Melford in Suffolk, Eddie who is now 80, has by no means become a couch potato, content to sit in a comfy chair with his slippers. He enjoys golf and the tranquil scenes of rural Suffolk.
Slippers are something he seldom had time for while landlord of the Two Puddings. He said: “I never wore my slippers for years in case I was called downstairs. If I went upstairs for a cup of tea I never took my shoes off because I never knew when I would have to run downstairs. I was never off duty
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“I liked the music and I made a lot of friends in the pub trade.”
During the Olympics he returned to Stratford to watch the boxing and visited the pub, now called Swaggers, that was both home and a business.
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Writing the book is something that he has been thinking about for years. Eddie said: “I have written for years- about my evacuation during World War II and letters to the Independent and the local paper. I always fancied myself as a bit of a writer.
“Most publicans are told “Why don’t you write a book” and I used to get that all the time because I used to tell them anecdotes.”
He wrote short pieces about life at the pub for several years but it was only at his son, Matt’s instigation last year that he put them all together that Tales from the Two Puddings was born.
“Matt said its 50 years since you took the Two Puddings on and Stratford is the centre of attention. That’s how it came about and I knuckled down and got on with it,” said Eddie.
He wrote segments of the book at different times in his life although he admits large chunks of it were put together in the 1960s and 1970s.
He talks fondly of the Stratford he knew and says one of the reasons he wrote the book was to try and preserve the memories.
The book has had a good reaction especially from among the older generation who remember the characters that feature in it.
He said he regrets leaving the docks but did enjoy life at the Two Puddings as he loved the live music, as evidenced by the fact that he was the longest serving licensee in London.
Eddie and his wife Shirley took over the pub known to be the most notorious in the area. Although it was known as the ‘Butcher’s Shop’, it soon became one of the busiest and most fashionable.
One of its attractions was its music nights which drew a host of colourful characters, including actors, writers and of course, singers and musicians.
It is littered with references to the likes of Billy Murray, David Essex and Rod Stewart. And as no book about the era is complete without mention of the notorious twins, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, there are several anecdotal references to run-ins with the pair.
Its strength lies in the way the book recounts the day-to-day lives of friends, relatives and the regulars at the pub, all told in a rough and ready style that pulls no punches.
The book also features black and white photos that illustrate life as it was in the pub’s heyday.