"...All through my childhood in Portobello Road, Minky was struggling to keep his head above water and raise three small children - my older brother Kenny, my sister Lyn and me. He worked hard, drank hard and fought hard. He was a volatile mixture of generosity, fun and violence that could erupt without warning, and which often left men laying on the ground. Reputations in Notting Hill were made by being tough, not gentle. Money was made the same way, and no quarter was given in their dealings.
John Christie wasn't the only madman to come from the local area. Although the identity of another local serial killer was never really proved, the leading suspect knew Minky and used to come into our shop. The murders stopped when he committed suicide. Another murder that took place in Notting Hill involved somebody I personally knew, and yet another involved a person who was known to my girlfriend of the time. Charles Dickens called the area 'a plague spot’, and he may have had a point.
These days Portobello Road is renowned the world over for its Saturday antiques and collectables market, but when my family moved into No. 121, and Minky opened his junk and scrap business at N o. 86, there was only one actual antique shop in the street. It was just three doors up the road from Minky, and was owned by Mr and Mrs Mitchell. He was rather taciturn, spending his days waxing furniture or sitting outside his shop. She never seemed to speak to anybody. In fact, I knew the Mitchells for almost thirty years, and never once spoke with her and only occasionally with him. They were the reticent forerunners of a street that would come alive with colour and drama, amazing characters, dirty deeds and enormous fun, and a place in time that can never be repeated..."
NOTTING HILL'S PORTOBELLO ROAD can be now be ordered online. You can also order Alan Carter price Guide to Antiques & Collectables - 2012 - The Final Chapter online. Both books make will make an ideal Christmas present.