The Hall Of The Shepherd’s Pie
by Steve Lodge
Let me tell you about this café in London’s East End back in the day. No one knew why it was called The Hall Of The Shepherds Pie, but there was a bit of a clue in the name.
It was owned by a wide boy called Clement Dodge and an old school mate of his, Tony Something, a double act, known locally as Dodgy and Iffy. No one asked where they got the money for this venture, but of course, it was speculated on, on account of Dodgy’s Dad residing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure after a bank robbery went bad, but from which none of the proceeds were ever located.
Dodgy got his sisters, Rose and Lil to run the café and it became a haunt of some of the biggest villains thereabouts, most of whom had a heart of gold, truth be known, but not all.
Rose was a stunner and very hard working. The café was spotless except for the walls which did show the signs of egg mayo fights and cigarette staining and of course the bullet hole (“during the time of the previous owner,” Rose would always say). Rose’s favourite stories always started with “In them days, everyone’s house in the neighbourhood was unlocked at all times as no one had anything worth stealing.”
Rose hated guns, so she turned down Tooled Up Terry, who wanted to take her dancing up west, until he promised that, if he had a bulge anywhere about his person, it would not be from him carrying a gun. Unfortunately, crossing the road after getting off the bus, they were hit by a car. Four toes were amputated from Rose’s right foot. When she wakes up from the anaesthetic (which in them days was probably gin), first thing she said when they told her in the hospital was “It’ll make dancing harder but give me less chance of getting toe jam then.” That’s how Toe Jam Rose got her nickname. Terry took it bad because although he was injured too, he got to keep all his toes. He put word out for the driver that he owed four toes. Terry was well connected, but no one ever heard of the driver again.
Lil ran the café while Rose was recovering. She was a different proposition. She’d served some time after beating up a woman in The Rag And Bones pub who she claimed was flirting with her then boyfriend, Des. She served up day old omelettes and when a customer told her there was blood on his bacon roll, she just nodded and said “Yeah, I cut myself. It won’t hurt you, a bit of blood. But I will, if you don’t piss off.”
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Steve Lodge is a Londoner based in Singapore. He has written a number of published short stories, skits and plays for comedy improv and theatre groups and lyrics for 3 bands and co-written a film screenplay.He acts on stage and in TV shows, documentaries, indie movies, adverts and appeared as an extra in a Hollywood movie, Hitman Agent 47.