Taxi Girls Of Picadilly

My career as a crime reporter in the early 50’s was relatively short and limited to whatever contractual relationship ‘Sammy’ Palazzolo had with Picture Post, and this was primarily to do with Sammy’s knowledge of the international drug trade.

1950s crime reportingMy career as a crime reporter in the early 50’s was relatively short and limited to whatever contractual relationship ‘Sammy’ Palazzolo had with Picture Post, and this was primarily to do with Sammy’s knowledge of the international drug trade.  Meeting a visiting friend from his home town of Taormina in Sicily, however, it soon became apparent to me that he was a freelance journalist who specialised in crime, and saw himself as some sort of international crusader.  As an admirer of Duncan Webb, crusading journalist on The People, I was young enough to see myself as carrying the flag against evil-doers.

The first deviation from the international drug scene came when Sammy, who had an obvious talent for spotting anti-social activities, came bac k from an area around Picadilly with fairly detailed descriptions of a campaign by the metropolitan police to clean the place up by closing down various properties in use by the sex trade.  They had in fact been so successful that the girls had transferred their trade to the bac k seats of London taxis.

It was this that resulted in me finding myself, at 2 a.m. one cold winter morning, hanging out of ther back window of a cab owned by one of Sammy’s dubious acquaintances, Sammy’s faulty camera in my hands as we sped down the Mall at what must have been approaching 60 mp.  I  have explained elsewhere that the flash on Sammy’s camera could only function if the lead to the flash touched the body of the camera.  Even with Sammy holding my legs to prevent me beign ejected through the back window it was an impossible task.

Its objective was to obtain a picture of a prominent British celebrity engaged in an act which, apart from being life threatening was obviously illegal.  Narrowly evading the statue of Queen Victoria, who would certainly not have been amused, the other cabby  outdistanced us.  Words which could only have emanated from the tip of the Italian peninsula were ejected from Sammy, while our cabby managed to hold back a traditional British expression.

 

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