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Well what a surprise, finding a bottle of wine produced my me old mate Leslie Ormes or as he preferred to be called Les.Les Ormes2

I am not surprised although the boy has come a long way since his days back in the East end. He probably got it from his dad ‘Arry Ormes.  I remember when ‘Arry had a stall selling live Eels just outside Upton Park tube station on Green Street. Then ‘Arry progressed to producing jellied eels mash and liquor and taking them round all the pubs in the area. He had a patch which covered Green Street, the Barking Road, Plashet Grove and Katherine street. He would cover all the big pubs, the Anne Boleyn, the White Hart, and ended up at the Duke of Fife on Katherine Rd.

The Duke of Fife was where the Walker brothers would hang out…. not the ones who sang the boring song…..’You’ve lost that loving feeling’. No Billy and George, Billy or the Blonde Bombshell as he was known was a heavyweight boxer and his bruvver George was his manager and was the brains. Of course the White Hart was the home of another local boxer; Terry Spinks.e7_dukeoffife

At the time Les was just a kid at Sandringham school which was how I knew him, Sandringham? what a name. The place could not have been more different  from the Queens place in Norfolk. You grew up quick there and if you were lucky you learnt to add up and take away as well.

Les used to help his dad with the pie and eels and that’s how he got to know Billy Walker. When he left school he had a place just behind Valentines Park in Ilford, it was an off licence, but that was just a front, really it was an outlet for baccy and booze what he was bringing in duty-free from France. He was one of the first to get a big old transit van and start the weekly booze runs. I think George may have helped him get started.

This was what got Les interested in the wine trade, and like his old dad he always wanted to run the whole show. When ‘Arry was doing the eels he had family who had moved up to King’s Lynn after the war and they were supplying the eels, direct from the Great Ouse, regular, every week they were running them down from Norfolk in an old Bedford van.

Les Ormes1So it was not long before Les got a place in the South of France. Cambras in the Pays d’Oc, not too expensive just a nice little earner. And surprise surprise there it is in my local supermarket. Went down well with half a dozen oysters, perhaps I should have had it with some jellied eels for old times sake.