Crime, manhunts and classic pop on Portobello Radio

It was fascinating to chat with Portobello Radio host Aidan McManus last night. He’s a walking encyclopaedia of rock music, local history and unsolved crimes.

He is also a guide for the highly rated FlipsideLondon Tours, which explore London as home to David Bowie, Joe Strummer and the Clash, the punk scene and gangsters. His enthusiasm for music and local history is absolutely infectious.

The 1960s Nude Murders case, which occurred on his Notting Hill manor, is one of his interests. Which was why he got me on his show to talk about the case and how London has changed – check out the broadcast here.

I popped into the Castle on Portobello Road before heading over to meet Aidan. This was formerly the Warwick Castle, which was used a lot by a couple of the killer’s victims at the time, Mary Fleming and Frances Brown.

Prince Buster and The Beatles

In a grim show of gallows humour, no doubt fuelled by a few drinks, several women involved in the sex trade even had a sweepstake in the pub one night on who would be the killer’s next victim.

Being interviewed by Aidan McManus, left, on Portobello Radio

Wandering around Portobello Road now, it takes quite a leap of imagination to get a feel for the crumbling streets, the kerb crawling and overcrowded housing of the 1960s.

Aidan asked me to choose a Flipside Five selection of records, so we did get to lighten all the talk about murder and abusive men.

I chose Al Capone by Prince Buster, I Can’t Explain by The Who, My Boy Lollipop by Millie, She’s a Woman by The Beatles and Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding.

They all had some connection with west London circa 1964-65 or offer a decent soundtrack to that time and place.

I should like to thank Aidan for having me on. The two hours flew by and I learned a lot – not least what that Bobby Gentry song was all about. Still trying to get my head around that…

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