Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Tales from the Two Puddings: Stratford, London's Olympic City, in the 1960's

Rate this book
'In 1962, exactly fifty years before the Olympic Games rolled into Stratford, East London, the Johnson family took over the Two Puddings, the most notorious pub in the area. Due to a combination of its cream-tiled walls and the volume of blood spilt, it was also known locally as the 'Butcher's Shop'. Within a few short years, it had become one of London's busiest and most fashionable pubs, its hugely popular music nights acting as a magnet for a large and colourful cast of disparate characters who would regularly descend upon the premises, including renowned actors, writers, singers, musicians, champion boxers, infamous gangsters, television personalities, and World Cup-winning footballers. By the time the Puddings closed its doors for the last time, nearly four decades later, landlord Eddie Johnson was the longest serving licensee in London. Tales from the Two Puddings is a poignant, at times hilarious, look back upon a lost world of East End eccentrics, local villainy, vindictive policemen, punch ups, and practical jokes, all now lying buried beneath the concrete blocks and sterile shopping centres of the 'new' Stratford.

320 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2012

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Eddie Johnson

9 books4 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
11 (32%)
4 stars
12 (35%)
3 stars
8 (23%)
2 stars
3 (8%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews
Profile Image for Jake Goretzki.
746 reviews116 followers
January 13, 2019
Likeable enough memoir of the pub trade in sixties Stratford, which I picked up in the 'Local History' section of the library. A bit of a reminder for me again that pubs - for all their cultural importance - were always such magnets for lost and the doomed; I used to romanticise them and find them charming...now I often find them massively depressing and there's almost a paradoxical sense of relief when yet another closes (arguably, they only prospered because they were the only place to get drink and there were few other options). I actually found it most interesting when it was talking about lifestyle changes: the beginning of wine; drinking and driving being normal; the London restaurant scene; shopping (I mean, the idea of Whitechapel as a sort of rival to Oxford Street - or so it sounds).

Covers the violence of the age; the music biz (in passing) and the parade of Hamiltonian spivs, weirdos and thugs that make up a pub's cast. Turns out he's the father of Matt Johnson of The The. Well meant, but over-pessimistic on boozing -turns out the Zedders barely touch the stuff. (Or so at least we hear). All good fun. Local interest only, obviously.

Profile Image for Andrew Waite.
43 reviews2 followers
May 6, 2018
Wow, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this so much.

I came across the book as the author happens to be the father of one of my all time favourite musicians, Matt(hew, sorry Eddie) Johnson of The The. And that’s what I was expecting to glean from the book, some insight into the childhood that lead to some of the most iconic lyrics of a generation.

In a small way, I got what I expected. Lyrics from Pillar Box Red for example (So back in time I go
Through the saloon bar doors
Onto the chewing gum floors
Where only childhood knows) suddenly make more sense knowing Matt grew up in a pup.

But this book is most definitely NOT about Matt, or The The (despite being published by Matts publishing label, 51st State Press; named from one of his most memorable tracks). So, am I disappointed that I didn’t get a book about the father of my famous idol? Not a chance! I just didn’t realise Matt had such an unusual family story and upbringing.

Without too many spoilers, some of the characters involved:
* The Krays
* Chopper (being turfed out by Eddie, despite Choppers’ reputation
* George Best
* Jackie Charlton
* and more legendary musicians than you could shake a stick at playing in the pub

And look in the window of any pub you encounter these days? See a blue sticker proclaiming it’s a member of ‘Pub Watch’? You’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this, started by Eddie in response to tabloid pressure of the ‘Murder Mile’, where the pub was (is?) located.

I have a new goal in life; for mine to be half as interesting, profitable and full of friends and family as Eddie’.

Eddie, I raise my glass to you - Cheers!

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ian Mapp.
1,208 reviews38 followers
September 24, 2014
I've been a big fan of The The since the 80s. I was aware through an interview with Matt Johnson that he had lived above a pub that hosted bands in the sixties and seventies - meeting David Essex etc - but I knew little more than that.

In desperation to see if any new music was being produced, I searched for information and found that that a) the only new song in the last 20 years had been about his old school teacher and b) he had published a book written by his father about his time at the Two Puddings.

And what a storyteller Eddie Johnson is. Larger than life is the only way to describe it. The book is written in a loose collection of memories - linked together under headings. So it does make strict chronological sense. Some things confused me a little - Eddie was the longest serving Publican in London when the Puddings Closed - yet seemed to move out to the Suffolk Countryside quite early in his tenure. I guess he still owned it and left it to other to run.

But what a life story Eddie has - and he captures a disappeared world beautifully. He stared off as a docker before hosting music nights with his brother in the late 50s - eventually taking over the Two Puddings - which seems a huge pub with a dance hall above it. The pub has gone, but the building exists and a trip to Stratford is on my to do list.

From these humble beginnings, the last of characters that he has met and some he knows well is mind boggling. Yes, you would expect the Kray's to have make an appearance (and one of the classic stories is about a barman spraying one of the Krays with a snowball) but the list is endless - West Ham Footballers (Harry Redknapp met his wife there) - Martin Scorsese (Mean Streets Characters based on his regulars), Francis Bacon (left all his estate to one of Eddie's friends), Actors. Throw into this a list of colourful east end characters like the Colonel and you have some wonderful stories.

There's also comments on the Pub Trade, minor villainy, fights, and frequent shouts of "Get out my pub, you're barred". The matter of fact way it is told is hilarious. Wrong Uns coming in after knocking off wages vans - comments like "I don't like guns and always made sure I kept the bullets and the revolver in different parts of the pub.

He always has a knack of being in the right place - and there are stories of the fine restaurants he visited, a growing appreciation of wine, being in France when they were mourning Edith Piaf, setting up Pubwatch, taking on the breweries about the tenancy laws. Even the quote about the East End being a safer place when the Krays were around seems to have been attributed to him.

My favourite bit is when he is running a country pub in Essex and has a run in with an early incarnation of CAMRA. Superb story telling.

Thoroughly enjoyable glimpse into a world that has disappeared in my lifetime.

Now make a film of it, just so that Matt can do the soundtrack.
474 reviews6 followers
February 23, 2017
I guess this is a nostalgia trip. I frequented the Puddings towards the end of the 60s, so many of the stories predate my time. It was always known for the great music, but it also seemed to be "fight night" every night, especially the weekends. I remember Stratford Broadway being devoid of all cars at half past ten of an evening, but by ten to eleven there were always a couple of police cars, and a black maria standing by. For me the great sadness is the loss of what was a way of life that was the east end of London, a fantastic place to grow up in, but not where I'd like to be now, and certainly not where I wanted my children to grow up. Fights were mostly no more than a couple of thrown punches, not like now where guns and knives are the norm. I think that all day drinking, and a massive rise in drugs has a lot to answer for.
Author 1 book1 follower
July 7, 2014
I bought this because I'm a fan of The The, and this is Matt Johnsons father writing. That said, a great set of stories from London in the 60s. Good fun and great descriptions from a time long gone. Interesting about local characters, bands, West Ham supporters, dockers and family. A great read that I hope more people pick up on.
8 reviews
October 9, 2014
I read this as I'm a The The fan and really enjoyed the book from start to finish. The way that Eddie explains what it was like to live in the East End in the 60's is fascinating and his account of the characters involved in and around the Two Puddings is captivating.
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.