SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024


Blond bomber Billy’s steamy 4am dash to The Albion in bare feet

Blond Bomber boxer Billy Walker reveals his nights entertaining young ladies at The Albion pub in Ludgate Circus while Fleet Street’s drinkers boozed after hours in the bar below in this extract from his autobiography ghost written by Expressman ROBIN McGIBBON 

I got to know Mickey Barnett’s son, Melvyn, in the Sixties when I was invited to his 21st birthday party. He was tall, good-looking and so successful with the ladies I thought: I’ll have to and knock him out in a minute – who is he?

I always fancied myself as a ladies’ man, but Melvyn was different class. He was very laid back, with an air of sophistication and effortless charm. He never failed to light a lady’s cigarette or stand up when a female arrived or left our little group. I’d never given those gestures a thought and was amazed at the effect they had.

Nothing ever fazed Melvyn. He wore a cravat and a proper dressing gown, and when we made fun of him he took not the slightest notice. Birds and booze – not necessarily in that order – were his priorities. And they were mine, too. We were the perfect match.

More often than not, he’d arrange for me to kip at The Albion in one of the rooms above the restaurant, which was closed at night. If we got lucky, we’d take our conquests back for some games – unknown, so we thought, to Melvyn’s mum and dad, who’d be in the bar, serving after-hours drinks.

We thought we were discreet, letting ourselves in through the restaurant, then creeping upstairs without anyone knowing. Of course, Mickey and  Rona knew all the time: they would peep through the curtains in the pub and giggle as they watched us tip-toeing about.

Melvyn’s grandmother was aware of our shenanigans, too. She was a lovely lady – and very fastidious: if she spotted any underwear laying around she’d put it in the wash. Once, a young lady, who hadn’t gone home, went downstairs, looking for her knickers, only to find them hanging in the kitchen!       

It was a wonderful bolt-hole for me, The Albion, and never more so than when I found myself locked out of a girl’s flat in the early hours – in my bare feet. I’d met the young lady in a West End bar and she’d taken me back to her bedsit, one of a maze of little rooms on the fourth or fifth floor of an old building off Earl’s Court Road. We had a few drinks and she ravished me – as they often did, the rascals.


I dropped off to sleep and woke at 3 am, busting to go to the loo. The girl told me the toilet was a communal one on the floor below and I slipped on my shirt and trousers and went down. I found the toilet all right, but when I came out I couldn’t remember where her room was. I wandered along the corridor and tapped lightly on a door I thought was hers, but a male voice growled: “Fuck off.”

I got similar reactions from three other tenants and when a fourth – a woman – told me to go away, or she’d call the police, I panicked: the last thing I wanted, as a famous face, was to be arrested. Thankfully, I’d kept my money in a trouser pocket, so I decided, late as it was, I had no alternative but to get a cab to The Albion.

I crept down four flights of stairs, feeling a complete prat, and stepped out into driving rain, praying I’d find a cab driver willing to take a young man in bare feet to Blackfriars. Fortunately, I did. And, fortunately, Melvyn was awake to let me in.

Don’t ask me how I found my back to that maze of bedsits the next day, and discovered where the girl lived, but I did. She accused me of walking out on her, but why she thought that, I don’t know, because I couldn’t walk very far with no shoes!

Anyway, the bizarre experience killed any desire I might have had to see the girl again, so I picked up my shoes and jacket and went off in search of pastures new.

11 September 2023